BEST OF THE FEST (RUNNERS-UP)
Far From Men
There’s something fascinating — and giddily devil-may-care — about the severity with which Viggo Mortensen has dispensed with the notion of mainstream stardom and gone way off the grid; other actors might slum it in a medium-budget indie or two, but this guy’s going off and making foreign films. In fact, his latest, a Camus adaptation for French director David Oelhoffen, bears a passing resemblance to this spring’s Spanish-language Juaja: a contemplative frontier journey of complicated morality, with Mortensen acting entirely in a convincing (to these ears, at least) foreign tongue. Not that the language matters all that much anyway; Oelhoffen has a wonderfully simple sense of visual storytelling, punctuating his protagonists’ arduous journey through a rubble-littered landscape with flashes of absurdist humor and scarily visceral shoot-outs where every bullet makes you duck. It’s a moody, masterful movie.
Men Go to Battle
The hipster comedy of awkwardness meets the Civil War drama (yes, you read that right) in this shambling, impressionistic, and absurdly funny film from director Zachary Treitz. It’s almost off-putting in its obliqueness, and eschews a conventional narrative build for something looser and more vignette-based, frequently switching gears and focus but never its specific, peculiar tone. The result is an odd but invigorating movie, and an intoxicatingly gutsy and personal take on historical fiction.