Monday, October 29, 2007

Wristcutters (a FREE story!)

Sam, Max, and I went to see Wristcutters last night in Union square, and when we got there, some promotion was going on and we got free tickets to that exact film! "If you like it, add us as your myspace friend!" said the over gregarious lady signing our first (but not last names) up on a sheet for the "VIP screening". It was a little ambiguous whether that meant I should track her down on myspace (or maybe the company she repped for) and friend her for being so nice, or whether Wristcutters has its own page (duh).
Plus! Haneke is remaking Funny Games with Tim Roth, Naomi Watts, Michael Pitt, and some guy that looks EXACTLY like Michael Pitt! Hurrah!

Wristcutters itself needs to be pre-empted by acknowledging that article from the Atlantic Monthly that basically claimed that quirk was ruining America's television, books, movies, and radio (so basically all form of media except the new kind, which is interesting. What, no quirky blogs?!)

"As an aesthetic principle, quirk is an embrace of the odd against the blandly mainstream. It features mannered ingenuousness, an embrace of small moments, narrative randomness, situationally amusing but not hilarious character juxtapositions...and unexplainable but nonetheless charming character traits. Quirk takes not mattering very seriously."

Michael Hirshorn raises some good points in his article (mainly that Flight of the Conchords is working on pure quirk fumes) but how does he put David Byrne at the beginning an epicenter of quirk? As I see it, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin embody this embracing of oddball-ness against a mechanical meat-machine of every day existence. Modern Times, right? They could have named that film, This American Life. It seems a little weird though, that a lot of quirk/kitsch (another debate- are these two things interchangeable?) factor comes from foreignness or the idea of the "other"- Hiro in the early episodes of Heroes is a good example, he is the comedic relief because of his fish-out-of-water routine in what otherwise would be dark and desperate situations, and his siren-call of "Yahooooo!" sounds like something Mario says at the end of a level. Anyone Russian or Kiwi is also a good bet. A lot of quirk films come from those countries, but I guess they have already ruined their own nations and now have to come over and destroy ours. Terrorists!
Anyway this is sort of off-point of the film, except that Wristcutters is severely too quirky- its Little Miss Sunshine written by a Russian, if the LMS had been only about Steve Carrell's and the son's road-trip. In the film, Patrick Fugit (you may remember him from the slightly less quirky Almost Famous, and the definitely as quirky Saved). The film features him, Tom Waits, Will Arnett, and the dad from Miranda July's Me, You, and Everyone we know. So yea, already its drowning in its own precociousness and alt-celebrity cameos. However, its the plot that really cements it as the kind of movie that strikes "a self-satisfied pose that stands for nothing and doesn’t require you to take creative responsibility." Because its a movie that starts out with a young man killing himself, only to find himself in a type of purgatory that doesn't seem so bad, just a little....oddball. Like, the color filters become more reminiscent of Vincent Gallo or Jarmusch film than a Judd Apatow one. Plus, every other person in this film turns out to be some sort of Eastern Europe immigrant....quirky! Tom Waits' does a multi-media slideshow presentation where the stills dont synch up to what he's talking about! Also he is sort of an angel! Weird! Somebody throat-sings instead of break-dances, so I its not totally a snake eating its own quirk but still.... Sometimes, things can fly....but only when you DON'T care about them!
Its like the Hirschorn said, "Quirk culture..... throws up its hands, gives a little chuckle, and says, “quirk is everywhere because quirkiness is so easy to achieve: Just be odd …but endearing” Let's not even talk about the deux-et-machina that involves the guy finding his true love courtesy of a black hole under the passenger seat of his friend's car.


Sam said...

Well put. On reflection I think my essential problem with the film was that the main characters were unsympathetic all around: an emo sad-sack who stupidly killed himself over a vapid bitch that anyone could tell wasn't worth it from a mile away (and who doesn't, in fact, really mind the tumbleweeds drudgery of quirky purgatory because he is actually kind of boring himself), an ice-queen with a heart of... entitlement? (I mean really, S.S. spends the whole movie whining about how she should become undead on a technicality, as if ODing on heroin in your car doesn't count) and a Russian immigrant whose only purpose is to provide "funny"-but-not-funny comedic quirk relief to take the edge off the other two self-obsessed, whiny, ennui-laden narcissists that we're supposed to care about for some reason. Those people can stay in Ohio I mean purgatory for all I care. Jeez.

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