‘The Ocean & the Avenue’: an antidote to deadened Marvel cinema

May 25, 2018, 1:00 a.m.
A strong new short film by Bella Levaggi ’18 and Spencer Slovic ’18 debuted last night at Roble Arts Gym. “The Ocean & The Avenue,” quite subtly well done, is an imaginative and unflashy 20 minutes that uncovers a glimmer of life’s beauty — the reason for breathing. As a trigger warning, I should caution that it deals with suicide and suicidal ideation, as well as those equally important tough shards which, by the way society patronizingly treats them as “little” or “unimportant,” are often hand-waved away or ignored by less attentive artists. The shards: catcalls in the street, the Millennial malaise too often dismissed as laziness or precious sensitivity, hangups with dads and sisters and lovers where the hanger-uppers struggle to find the words to communicate their lostness. Slovic and Levaggi give us cause to pause and think in a non-cheap way, which is something that you won’t get in bigger hits like the cowardly irony of “Deadpool” or slick, odorless, do-gooder Oscar bait.
Bella Wilcox ’19 and Elias Mooring ’18 are two loose strands whose stories converge in an quietly exciting way. Much of the film is walking — to a diner, up a hill, down a bridge, from a bike. In these downbeat moments, Levaggi and Slovic show just exactly what the short-film form can do: bring attention to an everyday that otherwise gets glossed over in flashier, longer narrative works. I love that most of the film is just waiting to see where the story emerges, which is gravely different from having no story or no sense of direction. “The Ocean and the Avenue” meanders like the windy streets of “SanFran” it so obviously is in love with, is fascinated by. We delight in the fractured feelings of the characters — one low on money and out of love, the other suicidal — that cannot be shaped into a conventional narrative. To do so would be obscene.
I hope there is another chance soon to view this film on campus; it really deserves a big audience, and it deserves to be seen more than once.
Contact Carlos Valladares at cvall96 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Carlos Valladares is a senior double-majoring in Film and American Studies. He loves the Beatles and jazz, dogs and dance. Were he stranded on a desert island, he'd be sure to take some food— and also, copies of "A Hard Day's Night," "The Young Girls of Rochefort," "Nashville," "Killer of Sheep," and anything by Studio Ghibli. You can follow his film writings at http://letterboxd.com/cvall96/. He was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles.

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