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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Sunday, January 04, 2015

entry arrow4:26 PM | Film #4: Chris Mason Johnson's Test (2013)

Chris Mason Johnson's Test (2013) feels tight and focused, like a chamber piece about dance and the early days of the AIDS epidemic. It shouldn't work, given the claustrophobic nature of its subjects -- there are the endless rehearsals on a small stage, and there are the endless bouts paranoia of a specific kind of hypochondria. But it does work, and I think it has much to do with Johnson's choices of framing this story about a young dancer (Kevin Clarke) who's trying to break into a major role for a small dance company in 1985 San Francisco, while navigating the harrowing realities of a community suffering from a largely unknown virus during a time when the first HIV test was becoming available. Charting the ways these two arcs intertwine with each other, the film feels expansive because of a certain gracefulness in style, helped much by David Marks' beautiful cinematography. Johnson is able to probe deep into his characters' skins so easily, often in lingering close-ups that feel not invasive but intimate and intoxicating; yet he also knows when to pull back -- this he does during the dance sequences -- to make us appreciate the confluence of colour, movement, shape, and composition. It's a rather simple tale, but that doesn't matter: this is a study of mood, and we get this in spades.

#NotAReview #Cinema2015Project

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