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Virginia Minnesota (still)

Virginia Minnesota

Among the 100+ films at this year's Indy Film Fest are multiple features and shorts under the heading of American Spectrum. We had a chance to preview several of the films ahead of the festival, and start with these recommendations. Visit indyfilmfest.org for additional information and screening times.

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Capt Black (poster)

Captain Black

This film starts off as a day in the life of a restaurant manager and the employees that he supervises. This particular restaurant is the kind of run-of-the-mill place where the servers will sing you “Happy Birthday” on your B-day with an enthusiasm that you might find disconcerting, considering that the employees probably don’t even know you.

Mike, the manager, lives alone. In his off time, he discovers, by accident, the Captain Black series of comic books. In the series, Captain Black has a female accomplice by the name of Kitt Vixen, but it seems they spend as much time exchanging bodily fluids as fighting crime.

On Halloween, Mike goes to a costume party dressed as Captain Black, and he falls for a young woman dressed as Kitt Vixen. And per the comic books Mike/Captain Black and his partner get it on like cats during mating season. Both are clearly attracted by the fantasy and anonymity that their masked costumes provide.

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person,” goes the quote by Oscar Wilde. “Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” And given the way this movie turns out, you might wonder if this is really true.

You might also develop the expectation early in this film that nothing much is going to happen given the deliberate pacing, the bare-bones production values, and the geeky comic book subject matter. But the film’s laser-like sense of focus pays off big time in an excruciatingly uncomfortable scene involving one of the aforementioned restaurant birthday celebrations. Afterward, the film spins off in a direction that’s nearly impossible to predict.

Jeffrey Johnson gives a fine, many-layered performance as Mike in this uncompromising film that he both wrote and directed.  

I don’t want to give away any more about Captain Black. Suffice to say, it might make you think about the unwieldy nature of the justice system and the dangers—as well as the heroic possibilities—of getting caught up in a secret fantasy life.

Screening // Captain Black at the Indy Film Fest

When // Friday, April 27, 5:15 p.m.

Where // Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Tickets // $10


In the Wake of Ire

This is a story of hard-earned redemption centering on the relationship between Benjamin and his estranged daughter Rosemary. They meet again 20 years after a violent incident that led to their separation. Due in part to a brain injury, she cannot remember him. The naturalistic performances by the leads, Whitney Morgan Cox and Gregory Sporleder—as well as the nearly seamless interweaving of past and present in the form of flashbacks—bring this story to life.

Screening // In the Wake of Ire at the Indy Film Fest

When // Friday, April 27, 3 p.m.

Where // Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Tickets // $10


Virginia Minnesota

Addison and Lyle have disturbing memories of the girls’ home along the Lake Superior shore where they grew up. In terms of subject matter, this film kind of meanders, just like the journey the main characters take in this film. Asking for a neat conclusion might be too much to ask for from this convincingly acted film. But there’s some great scenery and interesting characters met along the way.

Screening // Virginia Minnesota at the Indy Film Fest

When // Tuesday, May 1, 9 p.m.

Where // Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Tickets // $10


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Diminuendo (Poster)

Diminuendo

This film stars the late Richard Hatch—Commander Apollo in the original Battlestar Galactica —as Haskell Edwards. He’s a washed up director, haunted by the memory of his starlet girlfriend Cello who committed suicide nine years earlier. Enter an artificial intelligence firm with an attitude. The firm pitches a new movie based on the relationship of Haskell and Cello, with Haskell directing, as a way to market their new “Life Doll,” an exact replica of Cello. Diminuendo manages to cross the uncanny valley by employing a real actor (Chloe Dykstra) as both Chloe and the AI unit that is a dead ringer for her. But this movie nonetheless rates in Battlestar Galactica territory in terms of believability.

Screening // Diminuendo at the Indy Film Fest

When // Saturday, April 28, 5:45 p.m.

Where // Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Tickets // $10


 Bullies (short)

What if a bunch of boys who were bullied in middle school found an escape hatch from the world and lived their lives in a bully refuge, playing Monopoly and eating chocolate for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? That’s the premise of this surprisingly touching short film and the world that a young comic book love, Eugene, stumbles into.  

Screening // Bullies at the Indy Film Fest

When // Saturday, April 28, 1 p.m.

Where // Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields

Tickets // $10

For the full schedule and ticket information, visit indyfilmfest.org.

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Arts Editor

Dan Grossman is NUVO's arts editor.