If you've had your fill of the formulaic Hollywood films that populate theaters in January and February, listen up. Benten Films, the distribution company run by film writers, has released a double-DVD set of Aaron Katz films for you: Quiet City and Dance Party, USA. Quiet City, which premiered at SXSW last year and helped trigger the whole "mumblecore" dialogue, is the standout film of the two, but Dance Party, USA also has some lovely moments.
Quiet City is an exquisitely filmed fairytale of New York, centering around a pair of twentysomethings. Jamie (Erin Fisher) arrives in NYC from Atlanta to spend the weekend with a flaky friend who never shows up to meet her. She asks directions from a stranger on the street, Charlie (Cris Lankenau), and they end up having dinner together, discovering they get along very well. They spend a day having fun around the city. You can't watch a man and woman who become fast friends like this without wondering whether they'll hook up, which provides a small amount of suspense. But you get so caught up watching these people and their friends that the romantic potential hardly seems to matter most of the time.