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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 10.13.10] movie review drama mystery

Year: 2010
Director: Aaron Katz
Writer: Aaron Katz
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 7 out of 10

Portland director Aaron Katz’s work has been flying under the radar for a few years but Quiet City suggested that the director was working himself up to the big bang, the film that would put his name on the lips of critics and mark him as one to watch in the new breed of American indie filmmakers. Well, look out world. Aaron Katz has arrived.

Cold Weather opens with a dinner. Four people sitting around a table talking as if they’re friends who haven’t seen each other for a while. We’re introduced to Doug and Gail and our first thought is that the two are dating (we don’t learn the truth about their relationship until later). Unemployed Doug is mooching, a carefree 20 something with no job and no prospects who spends his days reading and sleeping. He eventually gets a job at an ice factory where he meets Carlos who moonlights as a DJ. When Doug gets a call from his ex-girlfriend Rachel who is in town training for her new job, the two meet for coffee and later, Rachel is introduced to Carlos who she strikes up a friendship with. Then Rachel disappears and Carlos, with the help of a very reluctant Doug set off to investigate and when they discover that there really is something strange going on, the pair, with the help of Gail, turn into sleuths in search of a missing girl and later, a missing package.

Now don’t go thinking that this is some Hollywood mystery with twists at every turn. Katz’s story is intimate and personal and never gets too far out of hand and really feels like the sort of thing that could very possibly happen in “the real world.” The exchanges between the characters are casual and rather than feeling improvised they simply feel nonchalant, sort of like the characters themselves who at first seem only mildly curious about the situation until they open a can of worms into a real mystery worth their time and energy.

What first starts off feeling like another entry into the mumblecore movement is quickly dashed. Katz’s actors aren’t amateurs (for the most part) and the inadequacy of the characters is part of their charm and builds them as individuals who are out of touch with the world of mystery they’re entering and as events begin to unravel, one can’t help but think that this is going to end in disaster. However, as the story builds, we see that each individual brings their own small skill to uncovering the mystery, even if they’re way to go about it often leads to moments of hilarity (like Doug shopping for a pipe because it helped Sherlock Holmes think and hence may help him) and dead ends.

A charming, honest-to-goodness mystery with a real payoff, Katz’s film is exactly the sort of thing one would hope for: a personal, intimate film which explores people, their motivations and interactions while doing so amidst an interesting and enjoyable story. Though Cold Weather does occasionally stumble and miss the mark, some of the comedic moments are classics while other fall a little flat, Katz’s film is a little gem of a comedic drama full of hijinx and near misses.

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