The Next Guardian (2017, Arun Bhattarai & Dorottya Zurbó)

The first movie we saw at this year’s great True/False Fest was a pleasant enough way to begin, the fest’s first film from Bhutan, but it sounds like Lovers of the Night was the better monk film. Two siblings play soccer around the family monastery, where their monk father wants older brother Gyembo to attend monk training camp and follow in his footsteps, carrying on the forever-old family tradition. Gyembo is ambivalent about it, and about everything, feints vaguely in the direction of rebellion but will probably end up becoming a monk – we don’t know for sure, since he stops speaking entirely in the second half of the movie.

Gyembo and Tashi, crushing your head:

We first mistook his short-haired younger sister Tashi for a boy. She refuses the color pink, wants to swap clothes with her brother, talks with him about picking up girls, and even the parents say she has the soul of a boy, but when she doesn’t make the team at soccer camp, her future is left even more open-ended than her brother’s.

Dad is a goofball monk, doing traditional dances and blessing people (for money) with colorful phalluses. He tells Gyembo that he wants him to be happy, and his future is his own decision, and he doesn’t have to become a monk, but if he doesn’t, the tradition held by their family for untold generations will come to a crashing end and they’ll lose the monastery and all will be lost, but no pressure, make your own decisions. His repetitive lectures even become a joke within the movie as one scene shows Gyembo falling asleep while his dad rambles on, but the joke doesn’t make his nagging any easier to take. The mountainous scenery and colorful festivities are lovely.

Durango (2016, Matt Sukkar)

We liked the opening short even more than the feature, and they fit very well together. Two Colorado siblings: the younger a long-haired boy we first mistook for a girl (and a great skateboarder) and his older brother restless, threatening to leave town and move to Seattle, their mom crazy and father dead. More spoken venting and fighting and confessions and hopes/dreams than in The Next Guardian, which is content to watch quietly as everyone wrestles silently with their fates. The provocation by Aja Romano was about Harry Potter fandom and the author letting everyone down, which is a nonissue I’d already read too much about.