Increasingly, our mainstream cinema seems consumed with the act of storytelling itself. We can add American Animals to a list that already includes recent films as different as I, Tonya and Bisbee ‘17. This inward turn is nothing new for the avant-garde and the art-house, long characterized, from Bergman to Godard to Kiarostami, by the foregrounding of artifice.
Watching She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, director Mary Dore’s perfectly agreeable and accomplished 2014 documentary about the birth of the modern women’s movement in the U.S., it’s hard not to feel there’s something staid about the proceedings.
In The Nightmare (2015), Room 237 director Rodney Ascher updates his enjoyable 2012 portrait of a handful of people with some … colorful interpretations of Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, mapping similar themes onto an entirely different, much scarier vision.
The earlier film allowed ample, hilarious space for these Kubrick obsessives to present their wildly improbable visions of his true intent, but at the same time it served as an examination of the ways in which meaning is created.