Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Julia Hart Powers Up with ‘Fast Color’

by Greg Carlson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cinema | October 23rd, 2019

Screenshot of Fast Color

Julia Hart’s “Fast Color” moved quickly and too quietly from South by Southwest debut to skinny theatrical engagements via Lionsgate’s “Codeblack home” video. Several articles have already lamented the disappointing 77K box office take, wondering how such an intelligent spin on the indie superhero genre failed to make a bigger splash with viewers. Whatever the reason, the movie deserves a close look, especially from fans of kindred spirit Jeff Nichols, whose “Take Shelter” and “Midnight Special” operate in some of the same thematic territory as “Fast Color.” A series based on the film is currently being developed for Amazon.

Despite the frequently-appended superhero tag, the movie, which Hart co-wrote with spouse and “La La Land” producer Jordan Horowitz, is not a cape-and-tights adventure. Instead, it shares similarities with other realistically-grounded “what if?” stories like “Chronicle” and “Brightburn,” exploring a world in which people with supernatural abilities attempt to cope with the ramifications of their often terrifying powers. But “Fast Color” is also a heartfelt family saga, a melodrama about mothers and daughters, and an essay on race, class and the environmental state of the planet.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays Ruth, a young woman on the run from federal authorities and scientists who seek to contain and study -- and possibly harness -- her extraordinary but frighteningly hard-to-control resources. Afraid of her own strength, Ruth secures herself with rope to minimize the impact of frequent seizures that manifest as earthquakes. Hart carefully parcels out information to the curious viewer. Are these miraculous capacities somehow linked to the crippling, 8-year-long drought that has disrupted life as we currently know it? Soon, Ruth will make her way home to her mother Bo (Lorraine Toussaint) and her daughter Lila (Saniyya Sidney).

The dystopian milieu is less convincingly communicated than the sticky family ties. The scarcity of freshwater, with echoes of everything from “Chinatown” to “Tank Girl,” has propelled many tales of present and future nightmares. Hart uses this element to set up a key moment of high drama as well as to comment on the fragility that accompanies real-life food insecurity. The breadth of the X-Men-esque command of physical objects is visually striking, and Hart alludes to “The Day the Earth Stood Still” in a smooth homage. The computer-generated effects -- as promised by the title -- are imaginative, inventive and chromatically dazzling.

Cast members bring warmth and empathy to their roles. David Strathairn is a welcome presence in a key supporting part. Christopher Denham, playing a researcher pursuing Ruth, starts stronger than he finishes, but that is a function of the script’s agenda more than any fault of the actor. The modest production budget turns out to be a real asset, as the rural settings (the film was shot in New Mexico) ground the action in dusty, recognizable reality. X-Ray Spex lovers will appreciate the prominent use of the title track from the legendary punk landmark “Germfree Adolescents.” That song and Nina Simone’s “New World Coming” resonate with feminist affirmation and Black pride, and the lyrics to both adroitly comment on the unfolding story.

Recently in:

by Rob Hannahistory@nd.govAs I write this, the beautiful Stutsman County Courthouse State Historic Site in Jamestown is only partially furnished. But this photo, taken by my one-time colleague Guinn Hinman, caused me to see the…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comTwo teenagers rescued around 20 Koalas from the horrific bushfires in Australia, fitting them in their car.An anonymous donor pays off back taxes for several mobile home residents. Neighbors with…

Thursday, February 6, 6-8 pmFront Street Taproom, 614 Main Ave, FargoThe ND Hemp Association is committed to lending education and advocacy to propel the hemp economy for the state, serving as a medium of resources, news, advocacy…

by Gary Olsonolsong@moravian.eduOn New Year’s Day, I was sporadically listening to Sirius Radio Channel 5 as they did their annual countdown of top songs from the 1950s and cringing at my fading aural memories. This prompted me…

Our Great Leader of the Zombies Is Tilting at Windmills AgainA few days after he was impeached by the House, King Donald admitted to a group of young conservatives attending a Turning Point USA annual summit in Florida he never has…

To say that this year’s Bartenders Battle was the best display of talent in the six years since its creation would be an understatement and a disservice to not only the bartenders who made it into the competition, but also the…

I am a voracious reader of anything culinary and a subscriber to several culinary periodicals. I like to hang onto them as I find it hard to throw away these culinary nuggets of information with their adventures to distant lands. …

Music

Here’s to the ladies

by HPR Contributor

by Jill Finkelsonjsfinkelson99@gmail.comDeb Jenkins returns for a 23rd year of celebrating Fargo’s Women- and their music. The story is old news now, Deb tells me over the phone as I ask her- how did this start? 23 years ago, she…

The death on March 29, 2019 of Agnes Varda concluded a career perpetually in bloom. The legendary artist and filmmaker, unmistakable in later years under her wonderfully cartoonish yet delightfully chic two-tone coiffure, was 90…

“Surrealism permeates--there’s a legacy there with contemporary art where they’re still trying to capture or convey something that can’t quite be fully understood without the existence of that thing that you can’t fully…

by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comHigh Plains Reader spoke to Act Up Theatre board member Jackie Shaw, about the fundraiser "Kabaret for Kaleidoscope" at the TAK Music Venue.High Plains Reader: How did the idea for this show come…

Stand-up comedy is traditionally a one-way exchange. Outside of the odd question addressed to a random audience member, the limit of the spectators’ contribution to the conversation is their laughter at the comedy stylings being…

Perched along the banks of the Allegheny, Ohio and Monongahela Rivers and tucked up into the surrounding hills, Pittsburgh’s 90 distinct neighborhoods are connected by more bridges than Venice. Commuters and travelers enjoy…

Wellness

Yoga on the Farm

by Ryan Janke

Every Thursday evening during the month of June, Mara Solberg is inviting people to come out and try Yoga on the Farm. It is a unique yoga experience that was born from an idea that was proposed to Solberg.“I’ve been with Red…

by Devin Joubertdevinlillianjoubert@gmail.comIt’s that beautiful time of the year that’s filled with seasonal decorations, sparkly lights, warm family gatherings, and delicious feasts. I love everything about this time of the…

by Karen Andersonkartcone@gmail.comCongratulations to the Fargo School District for opening up a discussion regarding today’s students as covered in the January 7, Barry Amundson article “Social, emotional learning a forefront…