Quiet City

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600 West

NEW YORK -- One can only hope that there is a middle ground between the soulless blockbusters periodically cranked out by Hollywood and the burgeoning "mumblecore" movement of low-budget independent films. Although the latter have an admirable spunkiness in their minimalist aesthetics, they also display a self-absorption and fascination with the mundane that is disquieting in this socially turbulent era.

The latest example of the genre is "Quiet City," a formally impressive but tedious effort by Aaron Katz that depicts 24 hours in the lives of two characters: Jamie (Erin Fisher), a sweet but vacuous Atlanta waitress newly arrived in New York, and Charlie (Cris Lankenau), the unemployed man who takes her under his wing after an encounter.

Not having anything better to do, the pair hangs out at Charlie's apartment. Then, they engage in various activities. That's about it for the plot.

The young actors, who apparently improvised much of their dialogue (it shows), are appealing, and the filmmaker has a strong feel for visual compositions and editing. Indeed, the elegantly photographed shots of many little exposed areas of Brooklyn provide the film with a sense of urban poetry that partially compensates for its nonexistent narrative. But considering the great effort involved with the making of a feature, it's hard not to wish that this burgeoning crop of filmmakers would set their thematic sights a little higher.
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