This year’s Provincetown International Film Festival is winding down, but there’s good news:
Thanks to this year’s hybrid format, combining in-person screenings (there are only two left) with films available online, you can still watch most of the fest flicks at home through Friday, June 25.
Among those available online are two films I’ve previously written about: “Language Lessons,” about a Spanish teacher (Natalie Morales) and her student (Mark Duplass) who draw closer via Zoom, and “The Most Beautiful Boy in the World,” a documentary about a young actor from “Death in Venice” and how his life turned out. Both are excellent. (You can find my mini-reviews on the Cape Cod Wave website.)
Two other films I’ve seen that are still available for online viewing: “Red River Road” and “The Catch.”
“Red River Road” (90 minutes) certainly can be viewed as a case of art reflecting real life. Shot on the Cape during the pandemic, this chiller features the Schuyler family — Paul (the film’s writer-director) and Jade; their two sons, Quinn and Shaw; and, yes, even their dog, Brody — playing a family enduring isolation, fear and worse during a pandemic! In the film, though, it’s a different kind of pandemic, one that might cause memory loss, or insanity, or … well, who knows what.
Long separated from the rest of humanity, the family members start to question whether the Cape has been left in the dark (the bridges have been closed down) and the rest of humanity has resumed normal life. Or whether it’s all some kind of government hoax.
Despite this variation on the COVID-19 crisis, “Red River Road” never seems heavy-handed in a ripped-from-the-headlines way. It stands on its own as an offbeat, thought-provoking thriller, with strong performances, particularly by Jade and Paul Schuyler.
At one point a family member talks about how the isolation has left one “feeling adrift,” which might be the best description I’ve heard yet of how the past year has felt. *** (out of four)
“The Catch” (97 minutes) also was shot in Massachusetts — on the North Shore, though it’s filling in for the story’s setting, coastal Maine. Written and directed by Matthew Ya-Hsiung Balzer, it’s a family drama/crime thriller about a wild-child adult daughter, Beth (Katia Winter), who escapes to her fishing-village hometown after running into problems in the big city. She reluctantly moves back in with her estranged, no-nonsense lobsterman dad (Bill Sage) and her stepmother (Emy Coligado), hangs out with her amiable lobsterman brother (Kyle Gollner) and resumes a romance with a greasy ex-boyfriend (Jamie McMenamin) who’s involved in drug smuggling.
Not only is a lot going on in terms of Beth’s relationships, but a lobster-poacher situation and a drug heist unfold, pretty much simultaneously. The story would be more convincing with fewer coincidences and stronger with a more streamlined plot. That said, Balzer builds intense suspense as everything comes to a head. Plus there’s the brief, but welcome presence of Jere Burns, so good as a villain on TV’s “Justified,” playing a shady character who wants to go into business with Beth’s dad. Another movie well worth a look. ***
Festival information and tickets are available at provincetownfilm.org/festival.
** Click here for Tim Miller’s previous movie columns for Cape Cod Wave **
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Tim Miller is a Cape-based member of the Boston Society of Film Critics. He and Tony Raine host “Tim ’n’ Tony’s Rock ’n’ Pop Show” from midnight to 3 a.m. Sunday nights/Monday mornings on WOMR (92.1-FM), WFMR (91.3-FM) and womr.org (archived shows at https://womr.org/schedule/broadcast-archive/). He also teaches film at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or follow him onTwitter @TimMillerCritic. Or you can ignore him completely.