IFC's January '14 Releases
Blue Caprice (January 20/14)
Based on true events, Blue Caprice follows Tequan Richmond's Lee, a young man essentially abandoned by his mother, as he falls under the spell of an increasingly dangerous father figure (Isaiah Washington's John) - with the film detailing the pair's relationship and their eventual murder spree through the Washington, D.C. area. First-time director Alexandre Moors has infused Blue Caprice with a pervasively, perpetually low-key vibe that proves an effective complement to R.F.I. Porto's spare screenplay, and it's clear almost immediately that Moors isn't terribly concerned with exploring or covering the various true-life details of this notorious case - with the filmmaker instead focused on the intense dynamic between the two central figures. The ensuing character-study atmosphere paves the way for a midsection that's often as underwhelming as it is intriguing, as Moors' subdued modus operandi prevents the viewer from wholeheartedly connecting to the material - although, by that same token, it's difficult to downplay the effectiveness of a few admittedly chilling sequences (eg John explains his plans to Lee during a routine shopping trip). By the time the almost unreasonably oblique final stretch rolls around, which leaves too many important questions left unanswered (eg how do John and Lee feel about what they're doing? does Lee feel any remorse? etc, etc), Blue Caprice has established itself as a half-baked endeavor that's unable to entirely live up to the promise of its setup and stellar performances.
+1 (January 20/14)
A seriously weird little movie, +1 follows three friends (Rhys Wakefield's David, Logan Miller's Teddy, and Suzanne McCloskey's Allison) as they arrive at a massive house party shortly after a mysterious phenomenon strikes nearby - with the film detailing the mind-bending chaos that ensues in its aftermath. Before the weirdness dominates, however, +1 comes off as a fairly standard college-party movie that revolves mostly around David's efforts at winning back his estranged girlfriend (Ashley Hinshaw's Jill) - with the familiar atmosphere alleviated by Dennis Iliadis' steady directorial hand and a sporadic emphasis on elements of a decidedly inexplicable nature. The film's sharp turn for the strange initially holds a great deal of promise, as Iliadis does a nice job of weaving the oddball attributes within Bill Gullo's screenplay into the fast-paced narrative - with the puzzle-like vibe playing a key role in the movie's early success (ie the viewer can't help but attempt to stay one step ahead of the characters in terms of figuring out just what's going on). And although many of the plot's twists and turns are undeniably quite thrilling (and unexpected), +1 does begin to fizzle out once it passes a certain point - as it becomes more and more difficult to swallow the actions and behavior of the various characters (ie their approach to the oddball situation seems dictated more by plot than by plausibility). It's all quite watchable, certainly, and yet it's hard to envision the narrative standing up to close scrutiny, which, when coupled with a palpably unsatisfying conclusion, confirms +1's place as an intriguing effort that can't quite sustain a consistent tone throughout.