Wednesday, February 14, 2007

February 14th Log

2006, Andrew Bujalski, United States
1st Viewing, DVD

I would like to say whatever I want. I mean I would like to talk about real things with you… Reality would be nice to talk about, its just that we never get to that point really.” This is a revealing moment of dialogue in writer-director Andrew Bujalski’s sophomore feature film Mutual Appreciation. It is dialogue tat seems to embody the spirit of Bujalski’s filmmaking and most important the spirit of this film and its characters. Characters who endlessly talk about seemingly meaningful conversation that is ultimately dancing around the root of its intentions (with the only exception coming from the source of truth, which is getting drunk). As in his previous gem (Funny Ha Ha), Bujalski’s features an improvisational and plotless style which through characters and dialogue examines how we express (or do not express) ourselves. There is a pitch-perfect combination of humor and charm, but there is also an awkward and even frustrating feeling as we observe these characters hide or disguise there feelings from one another. There is always something lurking or hanging in the background which creates a mood of suspenseful tension and chemistry with the characters. Also like Bujalski debut Mutual Appreciation evokes a sense of reality yet is also distance and very understanding that it is a film. These characters are both like and very unlike us and this gives the film its charm as well as a timelessness. Bujalski’s again features a cast of what seems to be his close friends (including Funny Ha Ha’s lovely Kate Dollenmayer, who makes a brief but memorable scene-stealing appearance here). The film is full of highlights (of course the Dollenmayer scene is especially wonderful) right up to its abrupt and open-ended conclusion. Mutual Appreciation is a genuinely sweet and awkward romantic comedy from a filmmaker who has emerged as a contemporary John Cassavetes of filmmaking. Funny Ha Ha is a masterpiece, and Bujalski’s has followed it up with an equally brilliant feature. Maybe it is an acquired taste for some, but I love his work and will continually revisit and cherish these films! “Group hug!”

2006, Jamie Babbit, United States
1st Viewing, DVD

The Quiet is a film that strives to be something it is not: an in-depth psychological character drama. The film is doomed from the opening narration which seem to set the tone for a film that has something meaningful or complex to say. Ultimately the film is full of dismal characters and a phony script disguised as art. I really hate to be cruel, but this film became embarrassingly laughable for the actors who give decent performances. Really Camilla Belle is the reason I wanted to see this as I really believe she has potential to be a great actress. I think she belongs mention among the very best of her generation, but hopefully she’ll be given better scripts to work with then this. Belle seems to be well casted as a deaf mute who parents died and has been adopted into a dysfunctional family. She posses an physical and facial expression that works for the character but this script diminishes any value from the performances. The Quiet intercuts poorly written narration (by Belle) throughout the film, which seems to embody the film artificial insight (as we hear random facts about Beethoven and the progression of his career).

>> Go here for complete list of FILMS OF 2006


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