Brandon Colvin’s excellent debut feature, "Frames," from 2012, takes off with two young late-high-schoolers, a boy (Holland Noël) and a girl (Maria Travis), who are friends but through the pretense of a camcorder-film project realize they’re probably in love. The girl is more sexual in body, poise, and desire and knows how to telegraph it better than the boy, who is timid but desirous, awkward and a little Aspergerian. He ineptly but nonetheless charmingly attempts a lateral tracking shot of a street-scene with a wheelchair à la Breathless or Une femme mariée and he says it’s in homage to Kubrick (The Killing?). He’s a teenage film buff. He sleeps with a quad-sheet of The Shining over his bed. The girl suggests he watch the Hitchcock films with Grace Kelly — To Catch a Thief, Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, She gives him a DVD of the last one; he puts it in early that evening and falls asleep till the next morning; matter-of-factly tells her as much. His lack of social awareness doesn’t mean his antennae aren’t extended: soon he’s using his camera to take up the voyeur role like Jimmy Stewart in Hitchcock’s film and express the sexual compulsion. Shortly afterward, the film enters a new and mysterious second-half, wherein the cinema vibes around the two characters pervade the actual Colvin film Frames itself: over the final forty minutes the storyline will pass through plot elements of Antonioni’s L’avventura (enigmatic second-half disappearance), Blowup (evidence in close-up and study of images), and L’eclisse (succession of locked-shots of a deserted environment, including streetlamp — one element of the brilliant climax from which no good can come in giving away here). Elsewhere there are evocations of Lynch-esque sound design (slow-burn sonic rumbles) and characterization (Twin Peaks and the character of the girl’s father Mr. Kanan), tableau-force of single objects like an iPhone in a drawer or damaged glasses as in, again, Lynch or Hitchcock (note: recall that what’s happening in Colvin’s film with the pervasion of Lynch/Hitchcock is precisely what occurs in Lynch’s Blue Velvet, with the pervasion of Hitchcock), mannerist model-performance style like in Bresson, etc. The movie-seepage isn’t entirely, diagrammatically, confined to the second half; it’s there in the first part as well, giving us the impression that some third-party “narrative voice” were keeping watch over the proceedings (which point-of-view expresses itself fully in the aforementioned final sequence) — see two pages prior, for example: the first image is like something out of ’90s Godard (say For Ever Mozart); the second like something out of ’60s Godard (say Made in U.S.A); the third like something out of ’90s or ’00s Godard (say Hélas pour moi or Notre musique). This young-adult art-film might have been titled The Outsiders were it not for the fact that the teen protagonists are so circumscribed by images, their fate predetermined by the perfunctory mystery genre: the frames of images, frames as pens of liberty and volition, frames of spectacles ultimately blood-spattered when seeing is too much and not enough. -Craig Keller.
Directed by Brandon Colvin.