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|8:30pm||Live Music by Yellow Dogs|
Kid-Thing (David Zellner | USA | 83 min.)
Austin-based sibling filmmakers (and Rooftop Films alumnus) Nathan and David Zellner make movies in a loony vacuum in which the only constant is a fixation on the bizarre. While technically geared toward comedy, neither their feature-length Goliath nor innumerable offbeat short films commit themselves to punchline-driven humor. Instead, they allow the absurdity of individual moments to transform otherwise bleak scenarios into simultaneously funny and oddly perceptive observations. Kid-Thing, the brothers' latest feature-length effort (for which David takes solo directing credit), pushes that style in a less comic direction while remaining distinctly Zellnerian. The film conveys a mash-up of inspirations that suggest Harmony Korine meets Terrence Malick.
Kid-Thing follows angst-riddled prepubescent Annie (newcomer Sidney Aguirre). We first see her looking bored and it doesn't take long to see why: wasting her days in a drab landscape on the outskirts of Austin, the moody 10-year-old lives in a decrepit home with her goat-farmer dad (Nathan Zellner), a clueless sad sack whose free time involves such aimless tasks as shooting fireworks and scratching lotto cards with his equally unfocused friend (David Zellner). Annie finds an outlet in random acts of social rebellion, chucking flotsam at passing cars, wielding a paint gun at the food mart and hurtling through the forest with aimless energy.
And then she happens upon a mysterious hole in the ground near her home, where she hears an old woman's voice (Susan Tyrell) calling for help down below. Rather than share her discovery with her father, Annie keeps the secret to herself and cultivates a curious relationship with the trapped figure.
As the plot takes various unexpected turns, Kid-Thing maintains a hypnotic effect. Images of majestic nature pair up with consistently insightful framing strategies to reflect Annie's perspective of the world as a wondrous environment littered with events and scenery just beyond her comprehension.
- Eric Kohn