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Critics reviews
For the Plasma
Bingham Bryant, Kyle Molzan United States, 2014
It often evokes Rivette in its frisson between a hyperrealist surface tone and suggestions of far-reaching conspiracy. The 16mm cinematography and passages of narrative drift feel Rivettean too, as does the thematic focus on female friendship. Yet the film is clearly its own animal, trading in a deadpan performance style and elements of science fiction.
July 29, 2016
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Rarely does a film dig so deeply — and with such fresh, odd humor — into the simple act of seeing. The patterns are recorded, and they yield literal and figurative profit, but their meanings always slip. The film ends more or less where it begins, with few questions answered but the promise of more play. Always, more play.
July 29, 2016
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Elusive doesn’t begin to describe For the Plasma. Just when you think you grasp this feature debut by Kyle Molzan and Bingham Bryant, it mutates. Over the course of its ninety-odd minutes, For the Plasma comes across as sci-fi, horror, and an essay film. The shifts from one generic mode to the next are ever so subtle, and the cumulative effect all the more perplexing. For the Plasma is sweetly paranoid, cerebral and lush, cold and gentle.
July 22, 2016
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The resultant heap of non-sequiturs (the acting itself, stylized but differently by each actor; an interminable football game borrowed, a friend suggested, from The Room) leads not to sublimity/absurdity, but to exhaustion/frustration. Watching might feel like being wrapped in barbed wire while listening to birdsong. But if that sensation isn’t yours, suggest another; if your movie fails, make one more; in the words of an exemplary American, if failing to fetch at first, keep encouraged.
July 21, 2016
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Mr. Bryant, who wrote the screenplay, puts a lot of pseudo-heady ideas in Helen’s mouth. But despite ample references to art and literature, “For the Plasma” is perhaps more concerned with the secrets the women keep from each other than it is with photography or the subjective nature of interpretation… It’s a film with no shortage of ambition, taste (Maine looks great in 16-millimeter) or ideas. It’s a shame those ideas are so incoherent.
July 20, 2016
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The setup echoes Alex Garland’s recent Ex Machina, but where Garland’s movie is the kind of foreboding pop thriller that disguises its seriousness with outrageous set pieces, For the Plasma finds genuine, almost innocent-seeming delight in its own swerves in style and rhythm.
July 20, 2016
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Skirting genre conventions to develop its own allusive (and elusive) tone, For the Plasma has the kind of highly specific, confident direction that inspires viewers to sit back and let their brains be scrambled. As I looked at a digital projection of Bryant and Molzan’s 16 mm footage of CCTV images of a forest in Maine, I found myself acutely aware of the act of watching and by extension of myself, inside and outside the film.
July 19, 2016
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Independent filmmakers who strive to make challenging, idiosyncratic, blatantly uncommercial features should be applauded and encouraged, no matter how abysmally they fail. Three cheers, then, for Bingham Bryant and Kyle Molzan, whose joint first effort, For The Plasma, ranks among the year’s most singular movies, even as it also ranks among the year’s most painful movies to endure.
July 19, 2016
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Rivette’s virtues as an artist lie in the ineffable, so any wholesale mimicry of his style is bound to leave a film worse for wear. And in the case of the awkward and muddled For the Plasma, all these surface-level pillages amount to little more than a feeble attempt to import another filmmaker’s unique aura.
July 19, 2016
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There are lovely touches of the Rivettian here: a mood of low-key but constant paranoia; strange or fantastical moments that erupt in the midst of a firmly “documentary” context and setting; the predominantly female presence (the actresses Anabelle LeMieux and Rosalie Lowe); the warm and inimitable feel of celluloid (it was shot on Super 16mm); the verdant images (this is a memorable landscape film); and the fact that it never succumbs to demystifying its enigmas.
April 08, 2016
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The movie’s visual prose, aided by simple but fanciful camera work, has an original, giddy spin; Bryant and Molzan’s smooth and floaty direction sublimates the rocky landscape into something disturbingly ethereal.
October 06, 2015
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it pursues its own off-kilter trajectory with a tone that feels relentlessly casual, if occasionally foreboding (ditto the electronic score and eccentric lighthouse attendant character). It seems like the film could go off in any direction at any given moment, but it leaves most of its enigmas vague, allowing the intermingling of nature, surveillance, and capitalism to hum in the background of what is for the most part a leisurely tale of filling up downtime on an easy job.
May 15, 2015
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Certain shots, the 1.37:1 framing, all very beautiful. Maine is not the summer of the rest of the country, it’s much more civilized, as with the summers in Rohmer. Nothing of this film speaks or feels of the plague-humidity since global warming crept in, and so hopefully that means Maine is still immune. Like in Rohmer, dialogue zings: the women are articulate, and can enunciate words, and do not come off stooge-like or wishy-washy as in the majority of independent American films of this era.
September 18, 2014
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Shot on Super 16, Bingham Bryant and Kyle Molzan’s For the Plasma has the distinction of being the festival’s lone world premiere and its most beguiling, unclassifiable entry… For the Plasma is a modest project of big ideas: about solitude, collaboration, conspiracy, magical thinking.
June 18, 2014
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The dialogue features abrupt references to Proust and other existential musings that emphasize the movie’s otherworldly quality, but it never loses the overarching serenity of its environment. Sort through the pieces or just glide through its dreamlike state: “For the Plasma” offers many pleasures, but no single interpretation, and that open-ended state is a liberating alternative to anything else in recent American cinema.
June 17, 2014
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