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REVIEWS Jess + Moss REVIEWED BY DAVID D’ARCY


Bravura cinematography transforms a meander- ing tale of everyday boredom into a vivid collage of childhood and nature in Jess + Moss, a no-budget look at two cousins spending an aimless summer in rural Kentucky. Clay Jeter’s first feature, which premiered in a


section of Sundance exploring the overlap between film and art, will make the rounds of international festivals. The visual magic of Jess + Moss could give it a second life in museums and film schools. Filmmakers will study what Jeter achieved at minimal cost. The film’s title tells you almost everything. Jess


(Sarah Hagan, who had a role in Buffy The Vam- pire Slayer), a bored, blue-eyed, long-legged girl of 18, lives out in the Kentucky tobacco fields where her only company is her cousin Moss (Vickers), a boy who is 12. They wander around, talking about whatever comes to mind, exploring deserted houses, playing house and hinting vaguely at fam- ily events which left them in the middle of nowhere. The US independent film-maker David Gordon Green seems the main influence on the plotless ruminations. Four screenwriters, including Clay Jeter, are


credited, though the dialogue sounds mostly improvised. Conversation runs along familiar com-


GENERATION


US. 2011. 82mins Director Clay Jeter Production companies Blood River Pictures, Love Streams, agnes b. Productions International sales Visit Films, www.visitfilms.com Producers Clay Jeter, Brian Harstine, Will Basanta, Isaac Hagy Screenplay Clay Jeter, Debra Jeter, Will Basanta, Isaac Hagy Cinematography Will Basanta, Clay Jeter Editor Isaac Hagy Main cast Sarah Hagan, Austin Vickers


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ing-of-age lines: “Do you really want to live to be 120?” or “How did your granddaddy lose his finger again?” or “Some day I’m gonna get out of here.” If there is any tension here, it is Jess’s vacillation


between childhood and adulthood. She keeps a suitcase packed, and she puts on heavy makeup and a wig to smoke in front of a mirror. Moss, pre- dictably, can’t wait to be older than his age. Shot on multiple film stocks, Jess + Moss has a


texture ranging from crystalline HD to a 16mm softness in lush vegetation and monochrome inte- riors which make this experiment a lot more than watching the grass grow. Will Basanta and Jeter on the camera observe everything, whether it is blades of grass, forest moss or the seas of memory in the objects left in an


abandoned farmhouse. The camera lingers on the facade of a barn as if it were taking a still photo- graph and assembles elegant still-life ensembles from ephemera left at random on tabletops. The film would risk being a photo album, were


it not for the same lustrous care the cinematogra- phers pay to their characters. Given the rudimen- tary script, Jeter could have veered into voyeurism or sentimentality as he explored the bond between the two. Instead, we get a portrait of the freshness and vulnerability of youth. There are still moments when Jess + Moss looks like a photo shoot, with Hagan resembling a young Brooke Shields or Paulina Porizkova. And why not? One of the lessons of the film is that beauty is difficult to resist.


Wanda Visión presents


BASED ON A TRUE STORY


Enjoyable... visually sumptous. Solid piece of family entertainment,


Jonathan Holland -


MARKET SCREENINGS FEBRUARY 12TH AT


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directed by GERARDO OLIVARES “THE GREAT MATCH”, “14 KILOMETERS” SANCHO GRACIA


CARLOS BARDEM MANUEL CAMACHO


ALEX BRENDEMÜHL, DAFNE FERNÁNDEZ, EDUARDO GÓMEZ, ANTONIO DECHENT, LUISA MARTÍN, VICENTE ROMERO, JOSÉ MANUEL SOTO, AGUSTÍN RODRÍGUEZ, FRANCISCO CONDE


A production of WANDA VISION coproduced by ARAKAO FILMS CÓRDOBA y SOPHISTICATED FILMS BERLÍN Art Director ION ARRETXE Custome Designer LALA HUETE Boom operator CARLOS DE HITA Sound designer and Post Production JUAN FERRO Sound mixer NICOLÁS DE POULPIQUET Music KLAUS BADELT Director of Photography OSCAR DURÁN Editor IVÁN ALEDO Production Manager Wildlife Unit CARMEN RODRÍGUEZ Production Manager MARÍA JOSÉ DÍEZ Director and D.O.P Wildlife Unit JOAQUÍN GUTIERREZ ACHA Executive Producer MIGUEL MORALES Coproducer SOPHOKLES TASIOULIS Producer JOSÉ MARÍA MORALES


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n 24 Screen International in Berlin February 13, 2011


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