“He has to climb two flights of stairs. And all that just to throw a head in a fish tank.”
I’m from Boston. This film is one of the better examples to predominantly feature the city. It doesn’t pander to the predetermined zones, landmarks, etc that, while beautiful, lean toward condescension or worse, tourism. Night School instead allows the landscape to speak for itself.
And it literally does that, as the film puts aside musicial accompaniment for a soundtrack of pedestrian ambiance. Instead of musical cues to focus and capture our ear we are instead surrounded by the normal world with its sounds of normalized space. The distinction is not at first noticeable; gradually I realize I am slowly being betrayed the safety of the fictional world with the familarity of what’s waiting for me after the film ends. The only other unmusical film i can think of at the moment to feature, not silence, but a focused ambience as it’s primary, distinctive quality is Jeff Lieberman’s Just Before Dawn.
It’s interesting what’s created when a film gives up one of its most basic rights. You are forced to hear limits (and who exactly do they belong to?).
Theres something intimate and characteristically Boston about the footsteps, quarter-heard passings, and striking voices banally searching the depths of the rooms for interest; they all seem to take their cold lack with them.
Boston lives in winter half of the year. Like a winter sun bright with no heat, it’s like living in a movie without music.
(original review appears on Letterboxd )