Four Great Films at BAMcinemaFest, Week 2

collectiveunconscious

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collective:unconscious
Directed by Lily Baldwin, Frances Bodomo, Daniel Patrick Carbone, Josephine Decker, Lauren Wolkstein
The idea behind this five-part anthology is novel enough, with each filmmaker adapting another’s dreams, thus adding an extra interpretive layer atop another’s unconscious. Thankfully, the shorts themselves are just as richly imaginative as the overarching concept. Using dialogue sparingly and shooting in black-and-white, Daniel Patrick Carbone in “Black Soil, Green Grass” fashions from Lauren Wolkstein’s dream an entrancing fantasy of liberation through art, with a recording of a song combating the tyranny of an endless loop of counted sheep. Adapting Lily Baldwin’s dream, Josephine Decker in “First Day Out” uses the real testimonies of ex-cons as grist for interpretive dance; the physical movements are mesmerizing to behold, but one wonders if the cleverness of its physical spectacle doesn’t draw too much attention away from the anecdotes themselves. Less suspect but just as fascinating is Wolkstein’s adaptation of Frances Bodomo’s dream, “Beemus, It’ll End in Tears,” in which an apocalypse doubles as a reckoning of the titular macho gym teacher’s (Will Bromker) manhood, with one sexually ambiguous student (Ryan Cassata) coming to the rescue instead. In the macabre “Everybody Dies!,” Bodomo, adapting a dream of Decker’s, turns purgatory into a low-grade TV game show, with Tonya Pinkins playing a Grim Reaper who seems to especially target African-American kids. Interpretive dance returns in “Swallowed,” Baldwin’s adaptation of Carbone’s dream, in which a female artist’s anxiety about motherhood becomes a horror-tinged surreal, well, fever dream. At worst, collective:unconscious is merely conceptually provocative; here is the rare omnibus film that is remarkably consistent in quality segment to segment. Kenji Fujishima (Screens June 20, 9:45pm; June 26, 3pm, with filmmaker Q&As to follow; preceded by Janicza Bravo’s short Woman in Deep. Currently without distribution.)

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