Jan 31: Previewing Bingham Bryant and Kyle Molzan’s ‘For the Plasma’

Micro-Wave Cinema’s first 2016 selection has an uncanny sense of disquieting comedy

To audiences who gleefully responded to the explicitly scientific and yet abstractly absurdist inclinations of Andrew Buljalski’s fictitious period piece Computer Chess (WFF 2013), Bingham Bryant and Kyle Molzan’s For the Plasma might be its more upbeat cousin. Shot on 16mm in 4:3 ratio, the quintessentially micro-budget production, which had its world premiere at BAMcinemaFest in June 2014, kicks off the winter programming block for the Micro-Wave Cinema Series on Sunday, Jan 31, at 7:00p in 4070 Vilas Hall. Following the FREE screening, the filmmakers will join host and curator Brandon Colvin via video to discuss their film.

Essentially, Bryant and Molzan’s premise revolves around Helen (Rosalie Lowe), a forest fire safety officer in remote Maine, who ensnares her old friend Charlie (Anabelle LeMieux) in a strangely ambitious scheme that involves woodland patterns forecasting stock market shifts. In the film’s more technical moments, For the Plasma seems to satirize cosmic contemplations and the phenomenon known as pareidolia (dubiously perceiving metaphors or patterns where none exist), but its core is moodier and ethereal. This is further elevated by the synthesized sounds of world-famous video game composer, Keiichi Suzuki, who’s known for refining epic emotional content into unusually concise and/or minimalist themes (Hear: “Buzz Buzz’s Prophecy” in SNES cult classic EarthBound (1994)).

By effectively juxtaposing serene naturalistic imagery with shots from the perspective of CCTV surveillance monitors, the 90-minute film creates an uncanny sense of disquieting comedy. The tension between calculation and the vast unknown are uniquely heightened and shaped by the analog and digital tools, directly complementing its format of choice and digital presentation.

Co-directors Bryant and Molzan cite the influence of work like Raúl Ruiz’s The Territory (1981), particularly in terms of an evolving conspiracy plot. However, their far-reaching eclectic palate also finds inspiration in Eric Rohmer’s La Collectionneuse (1967), Susumu Hani/Simon Trevor’s A Tale of Africa (1980), Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Charisma (1999), and even an under-appreciated Italian television movie, The Scavengers (1970).

  • For the Plasma plays FREE on Sun, Jan 31, in 4070 Vilas Hall at 7:00p. For more information on the Micro-Wave Cinema Series, visit their Facebook community page. You can watch a one-minute teaser for the film below: