Putty Hill (2011)
A beautifully realized portrait of a close-knit community on the outskirts of Baltimore, PUTTY HILL is the second feature from celebrated young filmmaker Matt Porterfield (HAMILTON). At a neighborhood karaoke bar, friends and family gather to remember a young man who passed away. Knowing little about his final days, they attempt to reconstruct his life. In the process, they offer a window onto their own lives, an evocative picture of working-class America, dislocated from the progress and mobility around them, but united in pursuit of a shared dream. Exquisitely shot and employing surprising documentary techniques, PUTTY HILL is one of the most exciting American indie films in years. -- (C) Cinema Guild … More
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Critics Consensus: Unknown's Plot Twists Too Much
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Critic Reviews for Putty Hill
This curious blend of documentary and narrative, held together less by any plot device than by a rigorous aesthetic, proves all the more effective for being in service of casual naturalism.
Points must be awarded for nerve, but virtually every aspect of this misbegotten film misfires.
Porterfield's rejection of obvious irony makes this not only a warm film, but one which shows the real face of America's poor, young and disenfranchised.
With "Putty Hill," Porterfield joins the company of American indie directors Ramin Bahrani and Kelly Reichardt, filmmakers often compelled to seek out everyday souls in their textured, oh-so quotidian environs.
It looks closely, burrows deep, considers the way in which lives have become pointless and death therefore less meaningful.
"Putty Hill" transcends the usual docudrama hybrid to occupy a thrilling third place, dreamlike and scruffy, opaque and pellucid.
While this film could win some kind of award for getting the most out of a limited budget, the low budget of the film is a handicap that isn't fully overcome. It is an experimental film that works part of the time and fails part of the time.
Porterfield's ingenious structural choices and the film's exemplary sense of place... [are] only enough to make the film tolerable.
We are given a realistic impression of America's disenfranchised young.
There are moments of lyrical beauty and Porterfield never patronises his subjects, but a sense of tranquilised resignation dominates.
American indie film has been lost in the murk of the mumblecore student scene recently but with Putty Hill, I felt a real thrill that something new is stirring.
The originality here lies in the fact that the unseen director, Matt Porterfield, armed with his camera, asks them about their feelings.
Matt Porterfield's docu-realist indie drama is a tough, demanding watch - but also a rewarding one.
The fatal misstep, I think, is his decision to ask the characters questions from off camera, documentary style, so characters look directly into the camera to answer.
It's a film for patient moviegoers. But for those moviegoers, it stands to be a rewarding experience.
A creative and risky blend of a character-driven drama and a documentary about some alienated working-class people in a slummy suburb of Baltimore.
Audience Reviews for Putty Hill
"Putty Hill" is a low key and naturalistic movie that takes place after Cory has overdosed at the age of 24. As we find out through interviews conducted with various characters(by director Matthew Porterfield which are reminiscent of Peter Watkins' historicals), there is a lengthy history of violence and early deaths in this Baltimore neighborhood, not to mention prison sentences.(Even the play is violent in the early paint ball scene.) Violence is so commonplace that a group of high school girls are merely inconvenienced when they have to vacate a park after an armed robbery in the area. So, it is ironic that the one thing to bring everybody back together is a funeral, including Zoe(Zoe Vance) who is uneasy in her return from Delaware. And the final sequence serves to bring events full circle, just as the characters simply go round and round in their lives.More
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