CAPSULE: There is a decent story at the center of COLD WEATHER. Unfortunately, it is only about a half-hour long. It is just long enough to make the center of a feature film if elsewhere the film is padded using the conventions of the mumblecore film style. Not every film has to have the pacing of THE MATRIX, but this is a film that conspicuously spends time and celluloid in some of the wrong places. Rating: low +1 (-4 to +4) or 5/10
Aaron Katz's film COLD WEATHER is made in the "mumblecore" style of filmmaking, a style with its own set of conventions in some ways similar to those of the Dogma 95 movement. These can be a little off-putting for the uninitiated. To give a realistic feel to a mumblecore film generally non-professional actors are used and the plot and pacing can best be called "unrushed." This can frustrate the viewer while watching with the film's lack of progress, but also it badly limits the complexity possible in the plot. Texture is more the goal than is storytelling. Long sequences do not advance the plot and merely create a background atmosphere, perhaps expanding on the characters. The characters in mumblecore films tend to be in their 20s. The films are frequently on video and budgets are generally miniscule. In this spirit COLD WEATHER ambles aimlessly toward its plot. When it finally arrives there is no longer time to give the story the complexity it deserves.
In school Doug (played by Cris Lankenau) studied forensic science, but never graduated. He has in the back of his mind that he eventually wants to be a detective, but for the time being he is just drifting. In his most optimistic and fanciful moments he wants to emulate Sherlock Holmes. Meanwhile he is stuck in ice cold Portland, Oregon where he works at an ice factory hauling heavy bags of yet more ice. His career and life are frozen. And there the film sits, itself seemingly frozen for nearly half of its 96-minute length. Too far into the film he introduces his co- worker Carlos to his ex-girlfriend Rachel (Robyn Rikoon). Carlos invites her on a date. The two become friends but then Rachel mysteriously disappears from her motel room. Doug thinks that there must be a simple explanation for Rachel's disappearance, but that does not seem to be the case. Doug and Carlos pair up to find her and they themselves find themselves in a mystery that goes beyond Rachel's strange behavior. There appears to be for-real foul play involved in Rachel's disappearance. Doug, who is reluctant at first to get involved, soon finds his forensic skills and his fund of knowledge from Sherlock Holmes books may be useful in the real world. Doug involves his sister (Trieste Kelly Dunn) in the mystery and the danger.
COLD WEATHER is written and directed by Aaron Katz who previously directed QUIET CITY, also featuring Cris Lankenau. Considering the terseness with which he handles the mystery part of the story, far to many scenes end with the viewer wondering what that scene added to the film. Then there are complete loose ends left at the end of the film. By then end of the film the viewer has some clues to what the mystery is about, but not at all a complete picture. And similarly we never seem to come to much understanding of Doug. But if all the mumblecore footage of the characters talking and interacting leaves us without much interest in the film's main character, one wonders why so much time is wasted in the film.
Perhaps writer-director Aaron Katz needed to try a more traditional style of filmmaking. Perhaps he just needed to deliver more substance sooner. As hard as I tried to like the film I still rate it a low +1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 5/10. COLD WEATHER has been playing at film festivals. It will be released theatrically via IFC Films on February 4, 2011, in New York and on February 11, 2011, in Los Angeles.
Film Credits: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1497874/
What others are saying: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/cold_weather/
Mark R. Leeper firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright 2011 Mark R. Leeper