The only limit of what CGI can do on screen these day is imagination, but often the best imaginations don't need CGI. Take A Ghost Story for example. It is, as promised, a story about a ghost, but the ghost is portrayed in the most lo-fi way possible: It's literally just Casey Affleck in a bed sheet with two, sad-looking black eyes cut out.
Yet, despite taking its wardrobe cues from elementary school plays, A Ghost Story emerged out of the Sundance Film Festival as one of the buzziest and best reviewed films. __A24, the young but ascendent indie film company (that was also behind Moonlight), picked up the film for distribution before it even premiered, and has released the first trailer today.
The result sort of looks like if Terrence Malick directed a summer camp scare sketch. (Mara also stars in a Malick summer romp, of a kind, the Austin-set Song to Song.)
David Lowery, the director most recently behind Pete's Dragon and tapped to give the live action treatment to Disney's version of Peter Pan, reunited with his Ain't Them Bodies Saints star, Affleck and Rooney Mara (who has so many, many, many films coming out this year) for the film.
Mara and Affleck play a newlywed young couple who has achieved the American dream of home ownership by buying their own little abode out in the suburbs when Affleck's character up and dies. Of course, the character returns in the after life in the form of the bed sheet ghost and watches how his wife's life and those of other tenants of the house play out with out him.
Despite the silly seeming concept, it's wowed the critics who've seen it so far.
"It’s a strange, sad, fragile little thing that should make us snicker," writes Steve Pond at The Wrap. "But instead it fills the screen with grace and beauty." Variety calls it a "quiet art-film curio," while Indiewire's Eric Kohn says the director "channels the absurdity of this setup into an extraordinary mood piece that amounts to his best movie yet."
In other words, it's that odd sort of little film that, if it hits you in the right spot, should delight. Maybe it's this year's Swiss Army Man.
It is also, despite being about ghost, not necessarily the latest entry in the recent artsy renascence of horror movies. Unless, of course, the idea of thinking about the very nature of time and our own fleeting impermanence on this planet frightens you.
The film is set to premiere on July 7th.
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