Profiling Nathan Silver in the New York Times last week, Nicolas Rapold noted that the 30-year-old Brooklyn filmmaker “has already made lively attempts at capturing the flickering, uncertain energies among people in a room—pushing boundaries or just sharing space—with his freely made yet nuanced movies…. In his 2010 film Exit Elena, a young live-in nursing aide is hired by a middle-aged suburbanite to look after her mother-in-law, but her employer turns out to be a constantly hovering storm of neuroticism. The movie’s improvised scenes and dialogue have an organic quality: running on, trailing off, rising and falling. It’s queasily effective, not to mention funny.”
As Sarah Salovaara notes at Filmmaker, Exit Elena screens at New York’s Anthology Film Archives on April 27 and 28. “His latest, Uncertain Terms, which is set at a group home for pregnant teens, and stars Gina Piersanti, Hannah Gross and Tallie Medel, has yet to see the light of day on the circuit. Of course, Silver is hardly twiddling his thumbs: he is now in pre-production on his fifth feature, Stinking Heaven, which will star Keith Poulson, and reunite Gross with her I Used to Be Darker co-star, Deragh Campbell. Set in 1990, Stinking Heaven unfolds at a commune for recovering addicts, where harmony is tenuous at best—if you’re already sensing a trend in Silver’s work (a cacophonous confluence of unholy souls), that’s because he knows his wheelhouse.”
And today, Soft in the Head (2013) opens at the Cinema Village in NYC. The film couldn’t score better at Critics Round Up; its current CRU rating is 100, based on four reviews: Ela Bittencourt (Slant, 3.5/4), Richard Brody (New Yorker), Calum Marsh (Voice) and—there he is again—Nicolas Rapold (Film Comment). CRU editor James Kang has pulled a terrific quote from Calum Marsh: “Silver’s latest finds the sweetness of its predecessor curdled, its warmth set ablaze, the result altogether possessed of a fiercer sensibility. Silver has gravitated away from Cassavetes, it seems, and toward the influence of another Hollywood maverick: Samuel Fuller, whose idiosyncratic riff on the hooker with the heart of gold, The Naked Kiss, Silver cites in Head‘s hair-pulling opening scene.”
The latest reviews come from the Hollywood Reporter‘s John DeFore and Ben Umstead at Twitch, where he also urges us to support Silver’s Kickstarter campaign for Stinking Heaven: “His films are rough and raw in the best sense, exploring a multitude of non-traditional families. Real life pulses through them, cloaked in the garb of fiction. The results are funny and frightening, and usually within the same moment.”
The photo at the top, by the way, comes via desistfilm, where you can read Mónica Delgado and José Sarmiento Hinojosa‘s interview with Silver.
Update: Back for a moment to Filmmaker and to Sarah Salovaara, who’s “asked Nathan Silver to write a guest post on directing improvisation, largely because a spur of the moment slipup—in which one of his actors mistakenly entered a scene and decided to stay put—ended up reshaping the narrative of Soft in the Head.”
Update, 4/20: Mark Lukenbill interviews Silver for Slant.