Obselidia (the movie)

“Only one [movie at Sundance 2010], it seemed to me, is so far off the grid of what is expected from a modern independent movie that it can truly be said to "rebel."

That would be "Obselidia," directed and written by a Scottish-born Santa Monica resident named Diane Bell. The film caught my eye from the catalogue due to the description of the female lead as "a beautiful cinema projectionist who works at a silent movie theater." (Well, if it worked for "Inglourious Basterds," why not?) I'm not saying that this utterly eccentric, movie-loving quasi-romance between two intellectual misfits living vastly out of their proper eras is necessarily the best film in its category.

But this one was my guilty pleasure, a film out of step with current fashion, a gorgeous work in which every frame has the appearance of having been hand-crafted in an art studio. It centers on a man whose mindset is much older than his years, a fellow who, convinced the world is going to end sooner rather than later, devotes himself to collecting obsolete things and writing a compendium about them. Although he'll use a computer in the library where he works, he won't own one; he prefers a manual typewriter, uses a rotary phone, doesn't drive (although he lives in Los Angeles, albeit a wonderfully unrecognizable and car-deprived version of it) and fills his home with all manner of faded or useless objects. While more of this world than he, the lady projectionist approves of his sympathies and takes him on an eventful road trip to Death Valley, a place that potentially resembles what the rest of the world will look like in future.

It's yet another film about the coming environmental apocalypse, but without a single special effect, collapsed building or zombie-like cretin roaming the landscape. It's all in a man's mind, in a film temperamentally indebted to the French New Wave, Woody Allen and Robert Bresson, among others. It's a total oddity and indisputably a rebel in its utter defiance of and, perhaps, obliviousness to, "independent cinema" as a concept and unified front.”


– Todd McCarthy, Variety

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