Saturday, October 25, 2008

Good Dick Better Movie

Good Dick
. That's right, it's a movie. And why yes it is referring to what you're thinking. And erotica and sex play large roles in the film, but it is actually a down to earth tale of a troubled, sensitive boy who courts a damaged, defensive girl. Written, directed, and starring Marianna Palka, the film is a gem of the indie world right now. Her co-star, Jason Ritter, performs the caring and needy guy to a tee. And different from many twenty-something movies recently, this doesn't feel contrived or desperate to seek attention.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Martin Starr, of such fame as the Apatow clan provides - most notably as Bill Haverchuck in Freaks and Geeks and Martin (the friend who doesn't shave) in Knocked Up. He can do no wrong in my book, and this film allows him an angsty character with great lines and a bit more screen time than some of Apatow's recent fare provided. I would love to see him star in a film soon. Perhaps one more along the lines of Good Dick than Superbad. Other co-stars include Tom Arnold and Mark Webber, aka 'Designated Dave' of the 90s classic, Drive Me Crazy.

(Not laugh out loud) Humorous and touching, Palka wrote a story that really captured the troubles of vulnerability and relationships many have. Her character frequently rents erotica from CineFile, the video store where Jason Ritter's character works. As he grows smitten, he tracks her down and begins stalkerly befriending her. After much hesitation, she finally gives in and he ends up crashing on her couch and trying to start a relationship based on their mutual appreciation for the video genre. However, for an undisclosed reason, Palka's character keeps her guard up, refusing to admit any attraction or even acceptance of him, even though her willingness to let him stay says otherwise. The film follows the two as he tries to break her shell and she tries desperately to keep it in tact.

Taking place in pretty much 3 locations - video store, apartment, and car - the gritty, extremely low-budget feel of the movie goes along very well with the acting and sensibility of the message. Honest, stylized, and realistic, I would recommend this over the mumblecore genre of films advertised as "so real its almost not a movie," such as the most recent, Nights and Weekends.

There are a few awkward moments and Ritter's character could have used more development, but all in all, the film unfolds very naturally, as though observing people in their typical daily routines, learning about their pasts from the first to last scene. No extreme events or atypical fantastical moments can be found here. Instead it is a frank, at times abrasive film about relationships post baggage, love post hurt, and how twenty-somethings learn to stand on their own two feet.

Unlike other movies I have seen recently, this is a film that spoke to me in my current twenty-something student soon-to-be unemployed, romantically frustrated state.

It was released in the U.S. October 17, 2008 in limited release. So check your nearest indie theater, and get yourself some Good Dick.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Good Character Study or Puritan Warning?

Hounddog, the film "where Dakota Fanning gets raped," is definitely deserving of more press than its controversy. But how much I can't quite feel out.

In 1950s South, Lewellen (Fanning) plays a young girl who, poor enough not to wear shoes in nearly every scene, is obsessed with Elvis and sings his songs to forget her troubles. And troubles she has plenty. As things gradually get worse and her religious grandmother's reprimands seep into her head, her childish antics begin to haunt where they used to free her.

Co-starring Robin Wright Penn and Daivd Morse, the narrative is quite heavy and left me wondering exactly what the message was. Bad things happen to "sexually" curious and liberated young girls? You need to suffer physical abuse and torment to properly sing the blues? Most men have the "evil snake" in them somewhere? (note: snakes are a heavily over-used motif - Biblical referent, yes; Freudian phallus symbol, yes)

Whether it is all or just one of these themes, the film ends on an unfortunately conservative, borderline regressive tone- the little red riding hood of our time, with race relations and white hegemony added in as a bonus.

These faults aside, director Deborah Kampmeier presents a beautifully shot film, full of rich yellows and greens and well paced, that depicts an interesting character study on a young girl who's forced to grow up in torturing ways. Fanning delivers an impressive performance, and while the narrative takes a bit of a nose dive towards the end, it has more to offer than the controversy leads on.

The film underwent a trial in North Carolina during shooting over the rape scene, which could have also attributed to the extreme delay in its theatrical release. Two years after filming and Dakota Fanning's numerous interviews on the subject, the film came out September 19th. But many of you may not have known it because AMC pulled it out of all its theaters due solely to the already infamous scene.
Plus side of this controversy, some people will see an independent film they may not have otherwise seen, which is always a good thing in my book. However, for me and those I went with, the knowledge of the scene coded our viewing experience. Clearly most people in the theater were waiting for the scene to occur, and each time a new male character appeared on screen, a tension came upon us all: is this the culprit? Thus, when the scene did occur, it was so anticipated that the horror of it was certainly subdued. Will the controversy then draw people to the theater but weaken their reception? Time will tell I suppose.

Those of you who have seen it, I would love to know what you think of the film's message and how the rape scene plays out to you in the context of the film as a whole.

BTW. Bryce discusses the film in his blog, I'm Feeling so Blahg, and as he ponders, "the real question is what do we think of the dad?" Discuss.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Tina Fey is My Homegirl

I can't wait to vote for Barack Obama in November, but I will be severly disappointed to lose Tina Fey as Sarah Palin on SNL when she is not voted for VP. Did John McCain select a candidate that looked like Fey's doppleganger on purpose?

As tragic as that would (and seems to) be, I will hold back political rantings in exchange for some Tina Fey lovin'. McCain's running mate makes for great comedy for all us liberals in support of that 'gotcha media' that likes to interview our candidates.

Thus, in honor of my fav political satirist, all you hockey moms and Joe Six-packs, sit back, relax, and enjoy repeated entertainment of the SNL skits in all their glory. *Pew Pew! Wink!*

The best and saddest part of all these skits? That not much original material had to be written. Thank you Tina Fey for being so amazing, returning to your stomping ground, and providing a few more people with perspective.

P.S. 'cause i can't hold back all my rantin'... WTF GOP? And to people who think she is legit, for shame. it's a terrifying and embarassing time when a person so inexperienced and unprepared can be presented as a solid candidate for VP.