Saturday, March 29, 2014

Gathr Previews: Hide Your Smiling Faces

I must admit... I was kind of surprised to be greeted at the screening for Hide Your Smiling Faces with a comment about how I was there for the last hurrah, if only because they had charged my credit card for another three months of membership just the week before. Apparently, the decision to shut the series down happened quickly - there's still a page for it on Gathr's website, and TBD listings for four screenings, including one tomorrow. A representative was still coming to screenings and offering memberships just a few weeks ago.

It's not surprising, though - I have been the only person at some of these screenings, and only a few times has the crowd been able to pack the Underground, much less the actual Regent Theatre. I can only guess why it didn't work out in Arlington - for one, it's in Arlington, and for many in the Boston area, that's the wrong direction to ask many people to travel for an evening's entertainment after work; for another, there seemed to be very little attempt to reach out to the various groups that might be interested in seeing independent movies early (or, in many cases, in the only theatrical screening they'd get) in the Boston area. I presume that the other twelve or thirteen venues had similar situations and turnouts, which is a shame. There were some duds among the movies shown, but some very good ones as well.

Supposedly, they are looking at reviving the series in the fall, possibly on a different schedule than weekly. I'll miss it, but I'm kind of shocked it survived this long.

Hide Your Smiling Faces

* * * ½ (out of four)
Seen 23 March 2014 in the Regent Theatre (Gathr Previews, digital)

Dead things appear early on in Hide Your Smiling Faces, as three kids poking around an abandoned building find a dead bird and do not exactly treat it with respect. It's a good starting point for writer/director Daniel Patrick Carbone's first feature, a fine look at rural kids confronting mortality.

Those three kids are Eric (Nathan Varnson), his younger brother Tommy (Ryan Jones), and Tommy's best friend Ian (Ivan Tomic). It's summer vacation, they're old enough not to need a whole lot of parental supervision, although you can argue whether that's a good or bad thing when Ian shows the brothers his father's pistol. The man chases Tommy and Eric away, and a few days later, Eric and his friend Tristan (Thomas Cruz) find Ian's body.

This could be the start of a mystery story, and maybe something like that is going on behind the scenes, but Carbone keeps the focus clearly on the kids' perspective, so if there's talk of an investigation, it's not filtering down to that level. Instead, the fact of Ian's absence takes the focus rather than the circumstances, and in some ways it seems to be affecting Eric more than Tommy. Part of that may just be the fact that Eric has Tristan to play off, and a story that goes in an interesting direction there. For the most part, summer goes on, but there's a pall, and added significance to everything from learning to swim to the mean neighbor threatening their dog.

Full review at EFC

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