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Butter on the Latch2013

  • 3.3
  • passes the bechdel test
Former performance artist Josephine Decker's stunning debut feature is a deeply subjective and mysterious portrait of a frantic young woman, Sarah, who leaves the city for the apparent safety of a Balkan music camp hidden deep in the California woods. Once there she reconnects with a former friend, Isolde and does some hilariously foul-mouthed female bonding, until she finds herself growing attracted to a hunky male camper, Steph. Gradually her already-frayed grip on reality starts to unravel, as cinematographer Ashley Connor's superb, disorienting camerawork and the swirling Balkan music become darker and more disorienting. Her personality finally shatters in a moment of transcendent violence that causes us to question whether we too have become lost in the deep, impenetrable forest of fear and desire. Part Bergman's PERSONA, part early David Lynch, BUTTER ON THE LATCH is a tour-de-force of intensely visceral filmmaking intercut with moments of serene, startling poetry.

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3 members like this review

Richard Brody in The New Yorker announced that "A Star is Born" with Josephine Decker's "Butter on the Latch" and "Thou Wast Mild and Lovely." Absolutely - her direction and editing is (along with the cinematography of Ashley Connor) outstanding. What strikes me the most about their craft is the number of shots in these two films that create unease and aesthetic interest in equal measure - a combination that never ceases to fascinate and that makes irrelevant the lines between dream and reality, present and past, even horizontal and vertical. In this sense as star - cinema itself - is reborn. These films are nothing that could be imagined in any other form or medium - they are slices of cinema at its most engaging and essential.

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Member Reviews (22)

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Richard Brody in The New Yorker announced that "A Star is Born" with Josephine Decker's "Butter on the Latch" and "Thou Wast Mild and Lovely." Absolutely - her direction and editing is (along with the cinematography of Ashley Connor) outstanding. What strikes me the most about their craft is the number of shots in these two films that create unease and aesthetic interest in equal measure - a combination that never ceases to fascinate and that makes irrelevant the lines between dream and reality, present and past, even horizontal and vertical. In this sense as star - cinema itself - is reborn. These films are nothing that could be imagined in any other form or medium - they are slices of cinema at its most engaging and essential.

3 members like this review
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If you like a bunch of out-of-focus shots of nature and other weird things then this movie is for you! Personally, I thought it was meh. The characters weren't that great, and since all that really happens is talking, that kind of killed it.

2 members like this review

Great. I love out-of-focus shots of nature and other weird things! Thanks!

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The retreat they were on was a terrific visual. Really got the feel of it. I give the actors credit for managing the ad lib dialogue, but it got to be too reality show to keep me interested. I did some fast forward when the dialogue slowed it down for me, hung in there for the music and dancing scenes.

1 member likes this review

A joy to see a cinematographer get to roam as free as the actors in an improv-heavy one like this (Ashley Connor is a marvel!). Exhilarating momentum in the editing department by Decker. Left me on my toes and in a soft sweet spot.

TOP SHELF CINE-BLUR.

1 member likes this review

Thou Wast Mild and Lovely is a brilliant film. Butter and Latch is the breeding ground for that brilliance, but it is like a trial run.... glimmers of potential never fully realized.

1 member likes this review
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Josephine Decker's film is like walking into someone's dream (or nightmare) and gifted with Ashley Connor's disorienting cinematography -- creates a unique and highly intimate experimental film. It is not the plot that makes this film interesting. Instead it is the way she tell it. It is a sort of cinematic magic act. A highly visceral film experience that one will not easily forget.

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I had to take it in speed mode because I thought it bogged down right away. I did not feel it flowed well and I didn't feel it held together well. You can appreciate the instability of the main character intensify through the film, but I would not recommend this one.

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Smartly structured film full of surprise and experimentation which seems like a real rarity among contemporary independent films. ... only thing is... it's full of 30-somethings improv-ing nonsense and doing new age balkan stuff in the forest.

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Josephine Decker creates primal films. If you're looking for a neat story where the filmmaker ties up all of the loose ends for you, look elsewhere. If you're looking for intriguing, if sometimes banal characters, striking occasionally disorienting cinematography, and are prepared to be disturbed, the feral trajectories of the women in the lead roles of her films are worth following. As an aside, I'm acquainted with a couple of people who are part of the Balkan music and dance camp, one of whom I was delighted to see had a small speaking role in the film. The person I know danced in the same flamenco classes as my teen daughter (it's been some time so we haven't seen her for awhile), and has invited our family to come to the camp in Mendo county, especially as my daughter is eastern European. Life being as filled with other pursuits as it is, that never transpired but this makes it personally interesting to see this film. I find that ability to relate on a personal basis, in several other ways as well, a hallmark not of my own experiences, but of the artistry of the filmmaker.

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Artistically, and creatively this film was a stunner. With an open mind, the viewer can appreciate it on just that basis, but I did want to derive a deeper and clearer narrative on the relationship between the two, and their personal stories. It felt like an introduction to a fascinating portrayal of woman's psyche that rarely if ever gets portrayed on film.

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Plenty of little moments of brilliance in a film that's otherwise just sort of middling sort-of mumblecore. It's at its best when it's creepy - toying with cinematography, sound, and editing - but occasionally hard to get through when it's simply moving along. There's promise in this debut narrative feature, but I almost wish it was a short film that explored some of its unsettling scenes a little better.

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This was a very interesting movie. The protagonist was complex and the story was that stressful relationship dance that artists navigate through. Sometimes I thought She embraced herself, but more often She seemed more attracted to passion than love. I'm not sure if she ever embraced the Art in Herself**

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The hype behind "Butter on the Latch" does not really play out while watching this film. Since the dialogue was improvised, it feels like you are eavesdropping on two girls that aren't having the most interesting conversations. The first half of this made me want to quit watching more than once, but the second half made "Butter on the Latch" decent, but not amazingly fantastic. Josephine Decker might be a great young director, but this is not the film that will make believe it.

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intensely personal film_you feel like you are eaves dropping the whole way_every one is really on top_ the film is beautiful to watch_not happy with the climax seems too unreal but it's worth the trip

In a word, horrible. OR am I not in step with images with no purpose?

This really blew me away. I've been kind of afraid to watch another one of Decker's films, or rewatch this one, because I don't know if I will be affected in the same way.

I hope that these Josephine Decker features stay on Fandor forever and I have access to Fandor forever because I cannot deal with the idea that I can't watch them whenever I want.

Didn't watch much. Seemed pointless and all the out of focus shots of background were meaningless.

Incoherent.

Banana slugs. Slivovitz. Inexplicably long monologues about salt scrubs. Horror movie cliches that don't quite jive with the free-associational vibe. Quasi-tonal a cappella score that sounds like the love child of Björk and Stravinsky. If you're in the mood for an experimental improvised psychological thriller (and who ISN'T?) this is a frustrating but worthwhile little nugget.

chaos

A great film. I love how the ending really ties the entire film together.

Brilliant -absolutely the best film ever!!