I saw Jem Cohen's feature Chain, a few years ago, and the film has stayed with me. I keep finding myself describing it to people, trying to convey the queasy horror of being trapped in architectural hells like food courts and retail arcades. Sadly, the film still doesn't have distribution, so when I say "You should definitely watch Chain," you can't obey me.
Still, I stumbled across some of his short work on YouTube. Let's have a look at "Free", a commission by Renew Media.
I enjoy the music and the street photography - figuring out which people stand out to me as they walk by. If you like Elliott Smith, you can also watch Cohen's short film with live performances, Lucky Three. It's about 11 minutes long, well worth it.
In everything I've seen so far, a few words come consistently to mind: intimate, immediate, "gritty" - these feel like huge cliches, but the guy is not employing a team of makeup artists and stylists to manufacture a slick image. He is shooting ordinary people in ordinary light, and the way they interact with the rooms and streets and buildings around them in ordinary time. He makes you want to keep watching them, and feel something about them and the places they are in. The simplicity is deceptive.