Thursday, August 9, 2007

August 9th Log

2006, Andrew Bujalski, United States
Repeat Viewing, Sundance Channel

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!”


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