Monday, August 17, 2009

So Happy Together

Me And You And Everyone We Know(2005) Directed By Miranda July
This movie walks a razor thin line between, cute, disturbing, and annoying, but all with the grace of a ballerina.Ive heard mixed reviews of Miranda July's fiction, but there is no denying her prowess as a film maker. This romantic comedy and ensemble piece, is one of those unexpectedly funny, moving, awkward, human, and complex indie films that comes around once every years, and gets imitated to death ever after. Fortunately "Me And You And Everyone We Know" has not begun to loose it's freshness just yet. July, uses her characters as vessels for musings on love, death, technology, sexuality, and loneliness. None of the characters in the story are one dimensional, everyone is entangled, and everyone is leading lives of quiet desperation. Through chance encounters, diverse yet familiar characters are brought together. In some of the, indeed, most adorable, and at times extremely discomforting scenes your likely to see(if your touchy about children and sexuality you might want to steer clear), but all are treated with the same sense of honesty that keeps the film from feeling cheap or melodramatic. A man in the midst of a divorce sets his hand on fire, a failed "magic trick" he meant to delight his children with. Two girls are propositioned by a series of sexual signs posted by this man's co-worker, spurning on a sudden sexual awakening/curiosity. Meanwhile the man's sons are courting sex talk in online chat rooms, "pretending to be men". Their next door neighbor collects furniture and appliances for the dowry she will one day give her husband, so that her family will already be fully equipped when she is ready to tie the knot, and take(at least to her naivete) her own step into women hood. July herself plays a performance artist, who runs a cab service for the elderly, and she has a growing infatuation with the father who burnt his hand in the magic act. Richard Swersey: "I don't want to have to do this living. I just walk around. I want to be swept off my feet, you know? I want my children to have magical powers. I am prepared for amazing things to happen. I can handle it." Me And You is a movie about the things which hold us together in the modern world, and those things which keep us apart, childhood mysteries, and adult magic. Despite it's veneer of incessant quirkiness, it shows adolescent sexuality as it is, a matter of pretense, performance, and awkwardness. For one it's got a teen three way doesn't appear like Larry Clark dark cautionary self-flagellation. Young people do really have moments of sexual experimentation, but there's very little market for non-Porky's /American Pie or Kids style examinations of teen sexuality, so that all depictions between those two extremes vanish. The uneasy, but natural grace with which July transitions between these moments of clearly trying to out quirk/impress each other and the audience ("this walk down the street will be like our whole lives" and "Cody ChestnuTT is our favorite cd." ), she is able to connect with genuine feelings. A teen boy is the meat in an older teen girl three-way and becomes introverted, seeking out the company of younger neighbor and simpler more a-sexual times. The girls able to feel in control of their bodies with the boy, still falter before the threshold of giving in to all the signs and suggestions, that they should be older than they are, and "chicken out" in a scene that makes running in slow mo and smiling(a big no-no-no- for me in rom-com and dramadies) not nauseating.Ive heard criticisms of the film like "the art curator has an ironic tired, how hipster, etc", this is true she does have such a mug, but she has the mug as part of a greater gag involving an art exhibit that has become so nebulous she can't tell were the studio the artist works in and his work itself begin. In fact she insists he stole the mug. July's adult and elderly characters, aren't as mystified by sex itself, but struggle to maintain family relationships in the face of love's end and to maintain love itself at the end of life, as the seniors July cab's around do. The fact that by the end of the movie we are shown the Internet itself, as a bridge between the isolation of adulthood and the blind curiosity of children is not just a wonderfully pleasant and subversive way in our age of "To Catch A Predator"(a favorite program of mine), to show how technology has changed our lives, but also how the gap and divide between our-selves (who you are now to who you were way back then), is not as great we repeatedly tell ourselves, and all without resorting to a "13 going on 30"/"17 Again" fantasy.It's a romantic comedy, that doesn't feel in any way cliche (a very rare thing). Like Limits Of Control is uses modern style and aesthetics to touch on complex and genuine ideas and emotions, using a genre film frame. When I went to see it in a theater there were two old ladies sitting in front of me and one said to the other "what's this about" and the other said "I think it's about an interacial family dealing with race relations." I remember sitting there and thinking "shit did I just pay for this." and then being thoughrouly pleased that it fell into no such trap. Me And You given time to simmer and settle, is as good as "Punch Drunk Love", "High Fidelity","Before Sunsirse", "Welcome To The Dollhouse", "The Lovers On The Bridge" and all those literate hip rom-coms and dramedies whove have come before. Anyway Ive come to have allot of affection for it, its an easy film to love, which I know repulses some people right out, but it's a smart, funny and sensitive American independent film, in a time when countless other hollow "indie's" court "sleeper hit" cross-over success. Miranda July may have a short lived career in the literary world, but .

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