By Don Simpson | November 12, 2012
Director: Sebastian Sommer
Writer: Sebastian Sommer
Starring: Aris Longmore, Grant Lancaster, Jennifer Prediger, Dafna Gottesman, Michael Valinsky
If we have learned any life lessons from cinema, we should know to never let strangers into our home and never trust a man with an eye patch. That is precisely what a man (Grant Lancaster) does at the onset of writer-director Sebastian Sommer’s Melt the Wings, and he certainly suffers the consequences for his lapse in judgement. The stranger (Aris Longmore) with an eye patch is an escaped convict, who presumably felt the urge to visit his childhood apartment shortly after escaping from prison. Before we know it, the man is bound, gagged and thoroughly duct-taped, while the stranger goes about his business of dusting off the cobwebs of memories of the past. The stranger also experiences the current tenant’s past by watching DVD interviews with three subjects (Jennifer Prediger, Dafna Gottesman, Michael Valinsky) as they wax philosophical for the camera within the space of this very same apartment. It seems the tenant has either been working on a video project of some sort, or he uses these interviews as an excuse to lure strangers into his apartment.
Melt the Wings plays as a psychological analysis of routines, memories and sexual regressions, specifically in their relationships with a defined space. Sommer’s decision to limit the actions of this film to one apartment is not merely a cost-saving measure, instead he uses this apartment as a container for memories. This is where the stranger needs to be in order to dislodge the memories of his childhood, while the current tenant stores his memories on DVDs. Unable to deal with all of these memories, the stranger lapses into surreal states of consciousness, blurring past and present, truth and fiction. The stranger is obviously choosing which memories he wants to recall (just as he chooses to place a disc into the DVD player), and considering his seemingly deteriorating mental state, these are probably false or exaggerated recollections. Even the meaning(s) of the tenant’s archive of video interviews is uncertain, since we are obviously watching the footage totally out of context, and we are only aware of what we view.
Melt the Wings feels like a lost film from the No Wave Cinema and/or Cinema of Transgression movements. Sommer’s oblique manner of storytelling relies heavily upon mood and tone, rendering the narrative all but irrelevant. Melt the Wings is not about developing an arc or plot, it is about creating a situation to then theorize and philosophize about. This is an approach to cinema that we have rarely seen this side of the Atlantic since the heyday of experimental filmmaking in New York City. Sommer is currently submitting this film to festivals; so the question remains, will U.S. festivals be ready for a film like Melt the Wings or will it enjoy more success abroad?