(Screened at Fantastic Fest; release TBA)
We have Velvet Underground to thank for the title “Strike, Dear Mistress, and Cure His Heart,” but the movie of that name is from one Mickey Reece, an independent Oklahoma auteur who has made two dozen movies in the last 10 years that have been seen by almost no one. Plenty of obscure artists’ obscurity is merited, but “SDMACHH” shows a competent filmmaker with an experimental bent who takes inspiration from the Davids (Lynch and Cronenberg) and a couple of Andersons (Wes and Paul Thomas). And an Ingmar, too, I guess: This deadpan, perplexing oddity is inspired by Mr. Bergman’s “Autumn Sonata” (I know this only from the Fantastic Fest program blurb) and is the story of young married couple David (Jacob Snovel) and Madeline Middleston (Audrey Wagner), who have come to possess an old hotel near where Madeline’s estranged mother, famous concert pianist Dianne Herbert (Mary Buss), lives. Also present is Madeline’s vomiting, mostly brain-dead sister, Bailey (Elise Langer), who disgusts Mother. There are brief Lynchian dreams, a Cronenbergian bit of body horror, faux-eloquent conversations between carefully arranged actors a la Wes Anderson, and diversions and detours that put me in the mind of PTA’s “Magnolia.” (A young laborer renovating the hotel flirts with Madeline … and then we follow him home for a scene with his family.) Wryly narrated by Cate Jones with game performances by the eager cast, it’s the kind of unclassifiable movie that was never going to be a mainstream success but which might appeal to a certain breed of curiosity-seeker. I’ll say this: It’s short, dry, and beguiling, and I’m glad I saw it even if I’m unsure what I saw.
B- (1 hr., 11 min.; )