"45365 is the area code of Sidney, Ohio, population 20,211, about 40 miles north of Dayton on the Miami River," writes Nick Pinkerton in the Voice. "The seat of Shelby County, its turn-of-the-last-century boomtown ambition (evidenced in its grand courthouse) long since mellowed, Sidney was the hometown of Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross, who came back to shoot it in 2007. The result is a poetic documentary of quiet American surfaces and intimately eavesdropped people, a modern city symphony performed in the Midwestern sounds of classic rock FM, church choirs, porch guitar noodling, and Southern Ohio twang."
The Rosses are "natural filmmakers," finds Jeannette Catsoulis in the New York Times. "Alighting on county fair and high school football game, retirement home and voting booth, their detached, glancing gaze requires neither narration nor intertitles: the images — and the chatter of local radio — say it all."
"45365, which won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the 2009 SXSW Film Festival, is not a quirky doc," insists Lauren Wissot in Slant, "but an exhaustively detailed, entrancing journey, crafted with love for everything from raindrops on a windshield to a cheesy Elvis impersonator."
"Unlike Harmony Korine's Gummo — another tale set in the Buckeye State's backwoods — there aren't any picturesque weirdos here, just ordinary folks going about their business," notes Andrew Schenker in Time Out New York. "The ongoing ritual of small-town American life is all."
"The film's most obvious forerunner is Frederick Wiseman's Belfast, Maine (1999)," suggests Darrell Hartman (Artforum). "As in that elegiac portrait of a small town, the system works. A new bridge gets built, the cops do their job, a local judge's successful election campaign goes off without a hitch. And everyone behaves decently, even when they're in handcuffs. Kids aren't smoking, getting pregnant, or even texting — they're talking about relationships and cruising through parking lots, presumably the way their parents did."
Viewing (16'32"). At Hammer to Nail, Michael Tully has a high-spirited chat with the Ross brothers.
45365 opens this evening at Anthology Film Archives in New York and plays through Wednesday.
Update, 6/19: Stephen Saito interviews the brothers for IFC.
FESTS AND EVENTS
Besides, of course, Edinburgh, Frameline and Los Angeles.
Kimberley Jones's primer on Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger in the Austin Chronicle is occasioned by screenings of Black Narcissus tonight, The Edge of the World on Saturday and The Red Shoes in August.
Chicago's doc films has posted its summer schedule.
Twitch's Todd Brown takes a moment "to say a very public well done to Shinsedai Festival organizers Chris MaGee and Jasper Sharp. The complete festival lineup and schedule have been announced today and it's a stellar, diverse lineup of titles." The "New Generation Japanese Film Festival" happens in Toronto from July 22 through 25.
Austin's Fantastic Fest (September 23 through 30) launches Fantastic Arcade (September 23 through 26).