The Ultimate Road Movie (in 13 Minutes): Myriah Rose Marquez’s UNCOMFORTABLY COMFORTABLE

“Your Story is Valid.  Your Story is Who You Are.  You are the Writer of Your Story.”

–Myriah Rose Marquez, writer, editor and director of UNCOMFORTABLY COMFORTABLE

UNCOMFORTABLY COMFORTABLE

By James Kenney Originally Published at Whatchareading.comSince its publication Marquez has been awarded Best First-Time Director by The Venice Fine Arts Film Festival and “Best Skate Short” at the Paris Surf & Skateboard Film Festival for “The Diary of Being Uncomfortably Comfortable”– but I talked it up First!

Despite being all of 13 minutes, Myriah Rose Marquez’s debut film, UNCOMFORTABLY COMFORTABLE (now available online for viewing at the Doc Weekly website), might just be the Ultimate Road Movie.  Detailing Marquez’s severe childhood illnesses, living out of her car, Going West, young girl, to California, cofounding the sister skaterhood GRLSWIRL, heading to Mexico to teach skateboarding tricks to a migrant camp, tricking out an awesome van, and finding peace in simple living, it proves an awfully expansive and determined 13 minutes.  Marquez’s deadpan narration, and a soundtrack featuring repetitive Yo-La-Tango-like riffs married to a DEEP RED-era Goblin bassline, are married to a collage of striking images that threaten to but never do enter trance-out territory.

Starting out like a cute skater girl’s Instagram story, I feared COMFORTABLE would prove some synthetic accumulation of empowerment truisms over slickly shot skate tricks, as some might “Do I know…?” Marquez due to her charming Levi’s campaign. However, COMFORTABLE swiftly develops into an enticing succession of visual dreamlines and altered landscapes, uncomplicated images of skateboarding or a ride to Mexico coming off like pieces of an existential science-fiction romantic road trip mystery. Arguably the highlight is Marquez  standing nude at night, wrapped in a quivering sheet detailing her childhood ailments and operations; it play like a BLUE VELVET dream sequence, both erotic and troubling.

Much of the film’s imagery is presented in some kind of pixelated techno fugue, imagistic and puzzling, with appealingly lo-fi footage of Marquez showing off her van or her self at work or at play incorporated.

UNCOMFORTABLY COMFORTABLE, produced by Neil Cohen, director of the cult-classic CHIEF ZABU, has an odd, colorful energy despite its shadowy subject matter and not-always representational moving canvas cinematography. The journey Marquez details in UNCOMFORTABLY COMFORTABLE leads to heightened self-knowledge and her good-natured appreciation of simple existence as a treasure.  “If I could get everyone’s attention,” Marquez says, poker-faced, early in the film, only to disarmingly throw away the punchline “…I have a really small microphone.” Attempting to capture the diminutive nature of any one existence in the larger scheme, while gently reminding viewers that that existence is nevertheless theirs to “write,” Marquez creates a curiously affecting, evocative short film that you’ll continually reappraise as it unfolds.

Marquez’s lack of inhibition, juxtaposed with her philosophical, quiet manner (she’s open, but she’s no exhibitionist) leads to a style that could be termed hallucinatory level-headedness– you always know what exactly is going on even when you don’t quite know what is going on.  UNCOMFORTABLY COMFORTABLE was accepted into the Fine Arts Film Festival, an offshoot of the Venice Institute of Contemporary Art, where it won Best First Time Director; it can be seen at Doc Weekly (where it became their most watched film); it won Best Short at the Paris Surf and Skate Film Festival, and it’s an official selection at this month’s Milan Skate and Surf Film Festival.

UNCOMFORTABLY COMFORTABLE
UNCOMFORTABLY COMFORTABLE

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