This one’s a quick one, as I am at work, but felt there were some omissions in my last post (read: movies I didn’t talk about).
I recnetly had a discussion with Ro-trying-a-little-bit-with-his-Beardo Malone about what exactly constitutes a “B-movie”. Normally, I would usually defer to Rob for his vast wealth of expertise on the subject (He recently watched Steven Seagal’s “On Deadly Ground” to reexamine it for its environmental message), versus my extreme paucity of experience (I suggested to my girlfriend, Eva, my wonderful girlfriend, that we watch “Con Air” last night, since I had never seen it). However, in this situation, we differed because I thought Ninja Assassin was obviously a B-movie, while Rob referred to it as “blockbuster schlock” produced by “those Matrix guys”. For me, seeing it with my best friend from high school, the increasingly frighteningly fit Frank Orio, was a perfect balance of a movie we could share: a fun, ridiculous action movie that was as winking as it was entertainingly made. The production value wasn’t super-high and there were no stars (other than Colbert favorite, Korean pop star Rain). It went quick and had a good number of laughs with an equal number of “Oh shit!”s paid to its gore. Rob argued that it wasn’t a true B-movie, but for me it was, as I later told people, “refreshingly ninja-y”.
It was a Sunday afternoon, in the awkward time between when Eva had left to do homework and when I was supposed to see a play in the evening. I figured I had time to see a movie, but many of the people who I would normally see a film with had abandoned ship, since I had repudiated the group of my friends who had gone to see “Brothers” the night previous, based on the fact that it looked “totally over the top and awful” (Rob sent me a text message indicating his extreme disappointment in me). I ended up with Chadd, not a bad thing, but when we were trying to pick movies he told me that he wanted to see something “Malicky”, a term that caused me to sigh in both a text and audible form. We ended up having to choose, due to time restrictions, between the 3pm “Armored” and the 2:30 “Up in the Air”. When Chadd originally asked me if I would see “Armored”, I asked if he was joking.
I wish I would have listened to him then.
While I, like many others, at least mildly enjoyed Jason Reitman’s “Thank You For Smoking”, I very visibly hated “Juno” for its smarminess and knowing hipster pretensions. I attributed that mostly to D. Cody’s script and her “Cinderella” story, which seemed risible in its in-authenticity. It turns out though that Mr. Reitman, working on his own can’t do much better. Up in the Air is a film only the worse for its mild successes. It takes some very good actors (George Clooney, Vera Farmiga), some very good comedians (Danny McBride, Zach Galifinakis) and some real-life laid-off personnel and totally trivializes them all. What Mr. Reitman has attempted with this film is the full monty: a film that both jokes and cartoons its way through its airy, incidental plot, while demanding to be taken with the sort of austerity of the seriousness of the economic collapse. In short, it pretends to greatness while degradating the humans it “tries” to exhort. Performances are coaxed out as caricatures, which suits Mr. Clooney fine, an actor whose made his living off a good surface, but makes other actors, like newcomer Anna Kendrick, look foolish as their meltdowns unfold in unbelievable fashion. Described as a friend of mine, freshly-returned semi-Montanan Dave “Packer” Broad, as “a series of music videos held together by bad dialogue”, “Up in the Air” relies too heavily on montage and Tony Gilroy-style barbs to get across its story, which is predicatable and inconsequential anyway. We know that Clooney’s corporate downsizer is deluding himself, much as we know Vera Farmiga’s female equivalent is deluding everyone. But rather than relish the slickness of it all, like Clooney had the opportunity to do in “Michael Clayton”, Reitman feels fit to judge everyone in his loopy world and thus, transitively, our own.
The economic crisis is real, as is the so-called “jobless recovery”.
I should know. I don’t have a job.
What Reitman does here is only to look at his characters facetiously, while attempting the self-seriousness of the pseudo-documentary interviews of “real people”. In the end, he ends up mocking everyone involve, wasting good performances and genuine feeling, leaving the audience, if they’ve been watching, properly disgusted.
If this gets the Oscar, I might call this year a worse one then the year that “Crash” won.
At least that film knew when not to laugh.
I got the official email from Sundance rejecting me, approximately 5 minutes after they announced what films got in to the rest of the world, but not soon enough for me to complain over Twitter to the programmer that he had “revealed the films without even giving the rest of the dignity of a rejection letter”.
I received my rejection letter shortly after.
He replied generically over Twitter that “Decisions are hard and so is making a film”.
I still felt like I had at least deserved for my money’s worth, the ability to let my friends know not to look out at the public announcement before they would find out for themselves.
It was pointless really, but I moved on.
Moved on, that is, to obsessing about other festivals.
A call to Slamdance made sure that they had my film. A look at Santa Barbara’s website made me decide to call them to make sure they had my email.
A call to SXSW went something like this:
LADY: South by Southwest.
ME: So uh, sorry to bother, but I submitted this short and uh, I wanted to know when, yeah, I’d like, um, find out about it.
LADY: Yes, we are letting applicants know about acceptances sometime between now and mid-January.
ME: Oh, ok. Good. So, uh, what if we don’t get in.
ME: When would we hear if we don’t get in?
LADY: You would hear between now and Mid-January.
ME: Oh. Like you said. Wow, sorry.
LADY: No problem.
ME: So, uh, yeahthankyoubye.
A conspicuous non-rejection also resulted in a call to Cannes (my second), where the woman, sadly on my behalf, is beginning to know me.
I had learned from a couple of my friends that they had received rejection notices from Cannes’ student section, The Cinefondation, while I had heard nothing at all. Naturally, rather then beting satisfyed by this, I decided to drive myself insane.
Finally, I talked to the woman who told me, very helpfully (I think she’s currently on the side of being amused by me) that it might mean that they were keeping my film to compare it to others for a “second round” of screening, which would be very exciting.
It could also mean, as she said in the same happy-Francophone tone, that they just haven’t all watched it yet, in which case I would receive a rejection “very soon”.
I thanked her and took away some happiness from this.
After all, in some deranged way, the only way for me to get over my obsession with one festival is, really, to find another.
Expect blogging to occur.
Finally, I should note that after the film, in a guilty pre-home-cooked-dinner fling, Chadd and I tried out a new taqueria that had been recommended to me over on 4th Ave near the movie theater. The taqueria, Dos Toros, has a sleek, Chipotle-like veneer in a much smaller venue. But it delivered on crunchiness and quality in a way that equalled and perhaps surpassed the fast-food chain though the value (4 bucks for a taco?) was somewhat in question.
Whatever though, even wtih the price tag, it’s the best “cheap” food in an otherwise blighted area.
DOS TOROS TAQUERIA
Crispy Taco w/Pollo Asada, Cheese, Guac, Pico–$3.67
4th Avenue at 13th Street
NQRW456L to Union Square