Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Terence Nance turns an old movie new in AN OVERSIMPLIFICATION OF HER BEAUTY

Evidently there's another Nance around town, in addition to the Broadway show that recently opened to much acclaim. This Nance's name is Terence and he's got a new/old movie making its theatrical debut this week. AN OVERSIMPLIFICA-TION OF HER BEAUTY is its name, although right up front Mr. Nance tells us that it was formerly titled How Would You Feel? Sure enough, checking out Nance's IMDB page, you'll find that How Would You Feel? is indeed a film made a couple of years earlier that was not, evidently, much seen. This one, I think, will be -- at least by the cognoscenti who appreciate something new and a little different that explores the male ego's reaction when confronted with the female's failure to give over.

As the filmmaker (shown at left) explains early on, he's taken that older film, How Would You Feel? and spliced parts (many, from the looks of it) into his new work, which moves back and forth between old work and new. (The whole thing is divided into sections marked by both title cards and a blue screen that says "Eject" when it's time to troll between one and the other.) All this makes watching An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (from here on to be noted as AOOHB) both effortful and fun. Plus, Nance's movie is nearly nonstop full of questioning and philosophizing, lots of narration but little dialog, and, as it moves along, more and more animation at the expense of live action.

This is not your usual love story, character study, action/adventure, or most anything else you will have seen up to now. It demands a certain level of intelligence and the ability for self-examination on the part of the male viewer. This will cut down immensely on the number of today's youth able to sit through the film without wondering when the explosions and car chases will begin, but it should find a niche among film buffs and young people looking for a little intelligence with their visuals.

Nance's ideas, it must be said, are nothing new -- but, hey, neither is romance and disappointment -- and he does grow repetitive in ways that both help and hinder his film. Yet the narration is often clever enough to speed you by these small roadblocks. Initially, it looks like Nance, who also handled the film editing, will give over some of his film and its narration to the viewpoint of the woman in question, the very lovely Namik Minter (above). But then he reneges on this and sticks mostly to himself and his own thoughts and ideas. While these are often charming and funny, they are also, it must be said, sometimes juvenile and lacking in depth, so after a time they begin to pall.

The animation, below and at bottom, which is quite good and often varies in style from line-drawn to claymation, keeps us watching, as does the beauty of both Mr. Nance (above) and his several young women. The camera (and we) love watching these faces, along with Nance's wild, wooly and quite wonderful hair. Plus, whenever things get a little draggy, there's a smart/funny moment, as when the narration suggests taking a good look in the mirror "to see the unfiltered you." Or when one of the gals notes, "This is too much from one point of view." Amen.

AOOHB/How Would You Feel? -- from Variance Films and running a slightly overlong 93 minutes (Nance's earlier film lasted only 80) -- opens this Friday, April 26, in Manhattan at the Cinema Village and the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center, and in Los Angeles on Friday, May 17, at the Downtown Independent.  After playing these two cities, the film will expand to others around the USA, and should find its way eventually to DVD and VOD, as well.

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