Sunday, April 13, 2008

So, I'm finishing up college, working on this short film as a final project. I was going to do it anyway, I'm pretty sure, I begun it not expecting to get any credit and then worked out a way to get credit so I could graduate this June. Last year, I made a little movie that I liked that has its problems- there's a lot of plot points that get depicted as abstractions. For instance, the climax of the movie is a guy being eaten alive by rats, I'm not sure how that reads. I was glad to not be graduating with my peers, glad that there'd been enough times where tuition never got paid to allow me another year to get my skill-set in order.

Now I'm working on this thing that was designed in my mind as a final project, and which I now realize is going to be completely tonally inconsistent and impossible to parse for any sort of emotional undercurrent. It's the sort of movie that, if someone had paid to produce it, there would be no return on investment upon its release, and whoever made it would never be allowed to make a movie again. Reviewing the audio I recorded today, I laughed a lot, and realized that, despite having seen so many movies, I'd somehow ended up an outsider artist anyway. My liberal arts education now amounts essentially to having grown up in a shack. I feel like I just found out I'm actually retarded.

I asked someone a couple weeks ago, "Do you think someone could puzzle together what a normal movie was, if they had seen a bunch of movies that were crazy in different ways, for instance Crank and Last Year At Marienbad?" The answer was no. The answer is no. Oh man. I'm really excited to finish it up and show it to people. I think it'll be really funny. I'm exhilarated.

The climax that I thought would be David Lynch a la Mulholland Drive is actually more David Lynch a la On The Air. (With puppets.) Oh man.

In other, perhaps related news: So the issue with the movie Juno is that, while all of the actors are fine, in the way that a big chunk of acting is the ability of an audience to project their own emotions onto them, every line of dialogue is completely atrocious and should not be allowed to be said by people in a movie, and the soundtrack frequently plays in such a way where it really seems not meant to supply emotion or a counterpoint to a scene, but just to show off the hipness of the movie.

Meanwhile, An American Werewolf In London is great, containing both Griffin Dunne's finest hour and a ridiculously gratuitous scene of car crashes. I saw it this morning and wanted to recommend it to someone in an unhealthy relationship this afternoon. Because of the part where the girl is with a dude that becomes a werewolf on the full moon, at her apartment, when she's not around. Yeah. Thought it was a potent metaphor for the times we live in. Unlike the movie Juno, which is really dismissive of abortions.

If YOU are not dismissive of abortions, you might want a copy of this movie I'm making. DVDs should be burned by the end of June, tell me if you want one.


Jog said...

I haven't seen Juno, but Rick Santorum liked it, so you know it's edgy as fuck!

Unknown said...

Dear Brian,

I decried Juno during a conversation with a friend of ours. I felt a lurch of regret upon doing so, as I worried that our friend may have already let juno into her heart, enshrouded it with tinsel and assorted precious articles (crumbly maple leaves, bus tickets, used band-aids removed during the day of viewing), and make an interior shrine in honor. Our friend isn't necessarily the sort of person who does this, but other people seem really fond of the fiesty and eponymous little preg-o, and I'm making a concerted effort not to piss all over people's interior shrines. Luckily, our friend hadn't seen the movie, and I hope, for her sake, she still hasn't.

Juno is awful, and you're right about the dialogue being the chief problem. I know plenty of referential punsters, but I've never met anybody who talked like the people in that movie--and I shall go to my grave treasuring this deficieny. Plausible dialogue isn't essential for good comedy; good, well-paced dialogue is. I've never met anyone who talks like the folks in Screwball comedies, but they entertain me, and they make wish I'd end up at a party where people did wield such witticisms before chasing escaped leopards. Not only are most of the lines in Juno terrible, all the jokes are horribly compressed together, so that if any of the jokes had elicted a chuckle, I'd have missed the following five.

But laughter doesn't even seem like something the people who made this movie were concerned with. Juno was made for grins, half-chuckles, and, yes, money. I doubt even the most appreciative viewers really laughed that hard. They probably left the theater with chests unshook by the pangs of hilarity, and this dearth of feeling allowed them to feel smugly aware that they had caught and understood every one of the heroine's allusions Diana Ross, irreverent displays of spanish ("Silencio!"), and various unconscionable acts of name-checking. Perhaps they even had a fun car ride home talking about how much they too would like to own a phone that looked a hamburger. That's certainly the only potentially positive thought the film planted in me.

I imagine this movie courted a lot of fans for the peculiar way in which it seems hip. 46 and over movie critics, and the 46 and over moviegoers who read said critics, probably tread toward a movie about smart young people with a quietly kept fear that they will feel excluded by what they see. Juno seems as entrenched in cultural savvy as the latest Hal Hartley, but it is bubbly, fun, and it ends nicely. As an index of how safely Juno plays its cards before our elders, the teary-eyed heroine denounces Sonic Youth, the one band on its soundtrack responsible for genuinely abrasive music. But still, it's nice to feel included in a cool thing, and I'm sure the critics left Juno felt nice about watching the movie that seemed smart in a year yet again notable for its paucity of smart movies. Further, Juno, by nature of its subject, is still edgy enough to prohibit visits from the less cool Right-leaning 46 and over crowd who prefer their movies about pregnant teens to end in gin-drenched, God-affirming, moralistic misery. So critics and their readers saw the movie with a feeling of relief and felt invited into idyllic, sitcom-like version of Vancouver.

I don't know what hip is, but if it has anything do with Juno I'm joining the French Foreign Legion and filling my napsack with John Tesh Bootlegs and Tom Clancy's lesser known works. Juno manages to raid the collective messenger bags of America and leave only the few good parts. The movie confronts with Wes Anderson's preciousness without any of the style, Arrested Development's affinity for puns without A.D.'s affinty for good puns, and a lot of hummable filler culled from I-pods(I like Kimya Dawson alright, and I hope this movie makes her a lot of money). I was going to talk about how it tries to be literary, but I like books and I'll leave them out of it.

But Juno is new in its way, and I guess new and hip go hand in hand, or they used to, pardoxically enough (think about it). Whatever. I'm going to call it something new, and as someone posting a gratuitously long and unprofessional movie review on my friend's blog, it should be obvious to the six people who read this that I wield a lot of clout.

So, on with the new. Juno is the first comedy expertly designed for people on anti-depressants. It has no ambition to make you laugh at length, and it even rewards you for not laughing hard with other jokes that don't make you laugh very hard. It also doesn't make you feel very sad, as it manages to tell a potentially emotional story in an emotionally restrained way. And finallly, through the vapidity of it references, it applauds you for spening too much time on the internet.

Because of its restrained and I guess unconventional way of dealing with a pregnancy, it's the sort of movie that would make you want to use the word "deft" to describe it, assuming you had no idea what that word meant. The characters are decent, they act confused about confusing issues, and they do let handle a few conversations well. Really, though, if you make a movie about a pregnant 16-year-old in which the girl avoids methamphetamines, the Father(s) merely uses his potentially harmful belt to keep his pants up, and the baby doesn't enter a garbage can as soon as it's born, it really wouldn't be that hard to tell a low-key tale about teens making babies, so all hype to contrary is unwarranted. I personally wished somebody in the film would have handed Juno a P-lo and a gun, but my mind wanders when confronted with dull things (my friend felt the same way, and his mind is generally a cleaner place to be). As far as narratives go, neither of these would be as radical as movie that ends with the girl still pregnant.

I watched Juno at a hostel so it didn't cost me a dime, and I can't fault it on that account. I drank Champange while I watched it, so I felt okay through the film and had an excuse to pee during the boring parts. It didn't make me want to drink more than I should, or less than I would've anyway. However, my buddy and I were surrounded by (sexy) Portugese fans of the movie, so our shit-talking skills were denied us, thus compromising our ability to properly engage a bad film. I guess what you're reading is what happens when the toilet unclogs itself a month after the deed.

Anyway, Brian keeps a good blog and he's a good person so read him and send him your money.

much love to Brian and others,

Samuel J Adams