In a piece that considers the meaning of Hollywood recently pulling the plug on some of the “dependents” (Paramount Vantage, Warner Independent, Picturehouse), N.Y. Times critic Manohla Dargis basically says all this implosion isn’t such a bad thing because it’ll give films like Ballast a better shot at reaching audiences. Here’s how she puts it:
“If all the studios followed the lead of Time Warner and got out of the indie film business, it might help a film like Lance Hammer‘s Ballast find its way into the larger world, though that’s no guarantee. And perhaps that’s the wrong way to look at it.
“Guarantees are for washing machines, after all, not art, and films like Ballast and Wendy and Lucy don’t need big distributors, a mass audience or a Spirit Award to prove their worth. Like the finest independents, they aren’t trying to emulate Hollywood, and while Michelle Williams has the lead role in Wendy and Lucy, it isn’t the kind of film that can be sold on a starlet’s smile. Like Ballast it will make its way into theaters, where it will be much loved and remembered long after it leaves.”
Ballast, which Hammer will be self-distributing, is no “audience film,” trust me. It’s a Robert Koehler-Manohla Dargis-Jim Hoberman-Scott Foundas film. I can’t imagine any viewer not feeling a good amount of respect for the earnest and unaffected acting, the pared-down austerity and authentic Tobacco Road vibe, but it moves very, very slowly — the word is actually “glacially” — and is not, by my standards, a film that wins you over as much as one that convinces you to speak well of it lest you be thought unhip by Robert Koehler, Manohla Dargis, Jim Hoberman or Scott Foundas.