Quiet City and Dance Party USA (tbc)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner23/07/2008

Three out of Five stars
Running times: 78 mins and 66 mins

Watchable indie dramas that mark director Aaron Katz out as a talent to watch, though neither of the films are quite as good as you want them to be.

What are they all about?
Quiet City and Dance Party USA are a double-bill of micro-budget dramas by indie director Aaron Katz. The first, Quiet City (actually Katz's second film) stars Erin Fisher as Jamie, a 20-something woman who arrives in Brooklyn late at night, only to discover that her friend has stood her up. Luckily, she meets amiable slacker Charlie (Cris Lankenau) at a deserted subway station and they spend the next 24 hours just hanging out, talking, visiting an art gallery and going to a party.

The second film, Dance Party USA (Katz's debut feature) stars Cole Pensinger as Portland teenager Gus, who routinely exaggerates the details of his sexual exploits. However, when he meets Jessica (Anna Kavan) at a party, he's compelled to share a secret with her, which seems to change things for the better.

The Good
Katz is clearly a talented writer-director, in that he has an obvious ear for conversation - the dialogue sounds entirely natural (if occasionally boring) throughout. However, he needs to stop casting his friends – Erin Fisher is excellent as Jamie, but it's hard to see what she sees in Charlie, who really puts the mumble into mumblecore (a genre of low budget, improvised indie films).

Quiet City also benefits from strong location work in and around Brooklyn, while Dance Party USA deliberately shares some of its Portland locations with Gus Van Sant's Elephant, an obvious influence on Katz.

The Bad
Of the two films, Quiet City is the more assured, although it pales in comparison with the recent In Search of a Midnight Kiss, which has the same basic premise. The main problem is that we don't really root for the relationship between Jamie and Charlie – frankly, she could do better. Similarly, Gus is a largely unlikeable character, so we don't really care about him either.

Worth seeing?
Both films are entirely watchable and it'll be interesting to see what Katz does next.

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Content updated: 19/08/2018 06:37

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