The Little Death (2010, Bret Wood)

Nerdy Cyril, with his Dante Hicks-looking friend and his vampire-looking other friend, visit a somewhat classy whorehouse. Cyril is cheap (or poor) and socially awkward and ends up sitting by himself railing against society until he meets an intriguing girl named Lisiska.

Meanwhile, Eleanor Malchus talks with the owner of the establishment, trying to locate her housekeeper’s daughter Lisiska, whom Eleanor suspects is working here. The owner (Casti-Piani) dodges the issue of the young girl, wants to engage Eleanor in philosophical debate instead, each relishing the idea of presenting his/her own moral values in a way that makes the other seem worthless.

The two threads turn violent then collide, or at least get to watch each other through a small window. Cyril loses his shit when Lisiska turns out to be not the woman he expected, but then he turns out to be not the man he expected, either, beating her half to death. I’m not sure exactly why the owner shoots himself to death – he’d earlier threatened to kill himself if he ever lost his convictions or pleasure in his job or something like that, but he doesn’t seem to have been overly affected by Eleanor’s arguments or the fight next door when he pulls the trigger.

Lisiska and the brothel owner appeared in Wood’s Psychopathia Sexualis. I think the lead actors were found in the local theater community, and they were all super. Movie was shot on a low budget in a remarkable eight days – everyone involved thinks it came out much better than Psychopathia Sexualis, which I have yet to watch. Based (loosely?) on a couple short stories by Frank Wedekind (“an elegant story of temptation and accusation in life … pessimistic about sex”) and Anton Chekov (original ending: “His friends, among whom is a medical student, are concerned only with his health; they take him to a psychiatrist who cures Vasilyev with bromide and morphine”). The director calls it a “Victorian sex tragedy.”

played with a short:

The Strange Ones (2011, Christopher Radcliff & Lauren Wolkstein)

I can’t comment whether it deserved its best-short prize at the Atlanta Film Festival since it’s the only one I saw this year, but I sure liked it. Two guys (maybe college age and middle school) have car problems, hike up the highway, stop at a motel pool to cool off. Older guy talks to the young woman on duty, she offers them a ride after her shift. The kid tells her in private that his so-called older brother is a dangerous kidnapper. The boys walk off, their true identity remaining ambiguous. Very nice looking, except for the ill-advised unsteady-cam walking shots. “Man” David Call and “Girl” Merritt Wever also worked together in Tiny Furniture, and “Boy” Tobias Campbell played Sam Rockwell’s younger self in Conviction.