Three Art-House Movies That Might Erase Your Memory of High School Musical 3

After HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3: SENIOR YEAR tickled our cerebral cortex with its realistic depiction of an inflatable beefcake’s heartwarming journey through the public-school system, we fell into a deep funk.

What sort of visual stimuli would we consume as we awaited the release of HSM4: Community College?

The answer: better movies.

Although current multiplex lineups aren’t exactly chockablock with mid-career Bergmans, salvation lies ahead for those willing to have a little patience. Three art-house flicks from filmmakers we hold dear are in production right this minute, all guaranteed to earn cryptically worded acclaim from film snobs the world over.

Put on your most pretentious spectacles and see what you have to look forward to after the jump.

EL CANT DELS OCELLS (Birdsong)
In 2006, cinema nerds fawned over ALBERT SERRA’s HONOR DE CAVALLERIA (Honor of the Knights), a Don Quixote-inspired film that’s likely one of the quietest, least action-packed buddy pictures ever made. Now Serra drops Birdsong, which should test audiences’ attention spans to an even greater degree.

Serra revels in plotlessness, often shoots during the evening while using only natural light, and typically prefers that his cast members sit silently before the lens instead of acting in any traditional sense. Birdsong reportedly features a nine-minute shot of characters walking down one side of a valley, through the bottom, and up the other side, finally recognizable only as specks in the distance. The film is now playing in limited release — ornithologists can whet their appetites here.

UNTITLED SOLONDZ PROJECT
TODD SOLONDZ has made brilliantly disturbing movies (WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE, STORYTELLING, PALINDROMES) that we recommend watching with your parents out of the room. In 2009, he returns after a five-year hiatus with a part sequel, part variation on 1998’s HAPPINESS.

We don’t know a whole lot about this nameless film, but with a cast that includes PAUL DANO, HOPE DAVIS, FAYE DUNAWAY, PARIS HILTON, DEMI MOORE, and Mr. Pee-wee Herman himself (PAUL REUBENS), we’re ready to camp out in front of the theater days in advance. Expect awkward silences, mean-spirited dialogue, and an uncomfortable look at the pitch-black side of suburbia.

THE TURIN HORSE
Bleak, slow-moving cinema is the specialty of BELA TARR, the Hungarian filmmaker behind WERCKMEISTER HARMONIAK (Werckmeister Harmonies) and the epic, 7.5-hour SATANTANGO. Scheduled for release in April 2009, Tarr’s new project, The Turin Horse, charts the relationship between a farmer and his dying equine.

The horse reportedly is based on the creature that FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE encountered in the street right before losing his marbles. According to the press release, “The film speaks about death, and the deep pain that comes with it, felt by all of us as a universal law.” Should be a real mood-lifter. Starring ZAC EFRON as Nietzsche*.

What films (either artsty-fartsy or mainstreamy-fartstreamy) are you excited about?

*Zac Efron does not star in this film.

– Chris Diken

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