Heat and Sunlight (1987) Poster

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6/10
Certainly Worthy Of Viewer Attention, But Drenched With Director's Self-Absorption.
rsoonsa25 June 2006
If writer/director Rob Nilsson were able to suppress his somewhat tedious sense of self, this film would probably have lacked that intense personal edge that gained for him the Grand Prize at the Sundance Festival but it also may have become more palatable fare for those fortunate souls to whom his personal devils hold minimal charm. Action begins with photographer Mel Hurley (Nilsson) and his close friend Mitch deplaning in San Francisco after a brief picture taking junket, Mel being eager to rejoin his former lover Carmen (Consuelo Faust), due to her personal involvement with him being in a state of uncertainty following his decision that they should see less of each other, a choice that he now rues making because he has learned that absence from her is something less than tolerable. In what is apparently a semi-autobiographical storyline, Carmen, a professional dancer, has taken up with her performing partner Adam, and after Mel confronts her with a demand that she decide between the two men, his emotional pain-preoccupation is plainly less appealing to her than is the younger and less complicated Adam. We are told that the film is only patchily scripted and that the cast improvises for all scenes during a 16 hour plot span as Mel's distressed and erratic behaviour, representative of a jilted lover, is saturated with essence of self-pity, while Mitch and another friend try but fail at lifting his spirits. An attempt is made to indicate that Mel is bearing emotional scars from a photographic essay that he made in Biafra and many stills, in addition to some moving footage, is seen during that war-ravaged republic's brief existence; however, Hurley's visceral and often overwrought actions are generally related to his failed relationship with Carmen and stills of her, credited to Steve and Hildy Burns, are happily prevalent, and quite inventive as well. "You know how I love your passion" avers Carmen to an importunate Mel, but her overall disinterest toward him tells us another tale in this highly energetic and episodic film within which a lack of structural coherence obviously suits any artistic goal that Nilsson might wish to have achieved. An admirer of John Cassavetes and his cinematic methods, Nilsson has borrowed from that auteur's style book during the creation of this free style affair that is essentially a study of sexual jealousy, with possibly the most meritable element of the film contributed by the music of David Byrne and Brian Eno that strongly shadows Hurley's torment. Interestingly produced and not without aesthetic value, this piece, shot in black and white, brings with it a conundrum respecting the significance of naturalism and realism in cinema; if a viewer's life experience is such that concerns for a narrative's characters want for a frame of reference, will not an audience reaction be one composed in the main of mere emotive voyeurism?
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9/10
An important, overlooked piece of truly independent American film-making
bastard wisher1 September 2006
Symbolically this film represents the last hurrah of truly underground American film-making before it crossed over into the "indie" cottage industry we know today, as it won the grand prize at the Sundance Film Festival (then still known as the US Film Festival) a year before the levee broke, so to speak, with "Sex, Lies and Videotape". Artistically, it presents a kind of forgotten missing link between Cassavetes and Harmony Korine. The director and star Rob Nilsson (who's performance and double duty here both strike me as a bit of a precursor to Vincent Gallo as well), heavily inspired by Cassavetes, created his own filmic method he calls "direct action cinema" which basically just means complete spontaneous improvisation from the mostly non-professional actors, mostly hand-held camera and minimal lights etc. Nothing too revolutionary by today's standards, but considering this was 1987 not many people were doing this, let alone in America. He also injects a very innovative editing style strikingly reminiscent of what Harmony Korine would do some ten years later, particularly similar to "Julien Donkey-Boy" with it's ultra-grainy visual quality (Black and white 16mm? Analogue video?) and extensive use of still-frame snapshot images. Despite all this remarkable innovation, the film is not without it's flaws and is in some ways actually very dated. A few unfortunate sequences have a glaringly cheesy "80s"ness to them (leg warmers?), and also the overall production quality, while admirable in it's embodiment of true independent spirit, is also a bit rough to say the least. Still, the actual storyline itself is really very good and the acting, for the most part, is engaging (although I may have considered someone else for the lead role besides Nilsson himself, a choice which strikes of a certain egoism). As a kind of forgotten building block in the independent filmic language it is well worth seeing (and I'm pretty sure Harmony Korine must have seen this since it contains the idea of "jokes without punchlines" in a very amusing sequence).
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3/10
a major chore to watch
MartinHafer11 July 2006
This Independent movie was filmed in black and white and has the look of a videotaped movie. The director, Nilsson, also stars as Mel Hurley, a once-respected photo journalist. Apparently during the Biafra crisis of the late 60s, Hurley was a brave man--staying until the last possible minute to be able to chronicle to the world all the suffering. The film quickly skips 15 years later and we find him a lot older and more timid in his job. Instead of the investigative photographer, he is now totally wrapped up in himself and his crumbling relationship with his lover.

However, despite this all being VERY interesting stuff, however, it just went no where. Hurley spent all the time in the film whining and being a jerk. After about 45 minutes of listening to this guy, I was fed up and pretty much tuned the film out of my mind. Too bad, as there WAS a kernel of good buried under the self-indulgence and boredom.
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7/10
a journalist coming home for his birthday finds out that his lover has become involved with a younger and less complicated person and he finds it very difficult to accept
manenasilvarojas4 August 2012
Interesting and rather disturbing, the main character is too self absorbed and far too egotistical to appear capable of really loving someone, his passion is mainly jealousy and possessiveness...the photography is excellent and his friends believable. Carmen is not beautiful but very attractive and talented, her character lives and seems very real. On the whole the, movie is worth seeing, it is a bit frustrating not to see some more footage of Ruanda, it might make a difference toward understanding the violent behaviour of the journalist The music is very appropriate and an asset to the movie. seems to be more actual than 1987, the Sundance Festival prize is a bit surprising because of the content and sexual content, however the film is original and deserves a lot of recognition
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