When Baltimore's own Matt Porterfield becomes a big star—and we have no doubt it's going to happen—you want to say that you were with him from the start. So, first check out his wistful and unforgettable debut, Hamilton. (If you haven't seen it already, what are you waiting for?) And next, go see his latest, Putty Hill, which begins its Baltimore run on March 4 at The Charles Theater. After the critical success of Hamilton, Porterfield set his sights on the more ambitious Metal Gods. Lack of funds stalled that project, but from its workshops and notes came the mostly improvised Putty Hill. In some ways, it's a transition film, a cross between Porterfield's first work and the more ambitious projects that will surely follow. But, oh, what a transition. Putty Hill deals with the aftermath of a young man's overdose death and is suffused with a kind of inchoate melancholy. Porterfield is great at juxtaposing the most mundane of settings—a makeshift tattoo parlor, a scuzzy family room, a generic stretch of highway—with moments of genuine grief or grace. The cast—a few professional actors (including budding pop star/fashion icon Sky Ferreira) combined with a lot of skate punks, local legends, and bar crawlers—makes you believe. It's no wonder that Roger Ebert gave Putty Hill four stars.
Indie director's latest ode to Baltimore opens this month.
Issue date: March, 2011