Marnie just graduated from college, drinks likes she's still in school, and is looking for a temporary job but a permanent boyfriend. She loves a guy who doesn't love her (?), ping-pongs ... See full summary »
Based on the true childhood experiences of Noah Baumbach and his brother, The Squid and the Whale tells the touching story of two young boys dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s.
Presents a day in the life in Austin, Texas among its social outcasts and misfits, predominantly the twenty-something set, using a series of linear vignettes. These characters, who in some ... See full summary »
Two bumbling store clerks inadvertently erase the footage from all of the tapes in their video rental store. In order to keep the business running, they re-shoot every film in the store with their own camera, with a budget of zero dollars.
Marnie just graduated from college, drinks likes she's still in school, and is looking for a temporary job but a permanent boyfriend. She loves a guy who doesn't love her (?), ping-pongs between awkward romantic alternatives and even less suitable jobs. Written by
Hey, if you could move anywhere, if you were moving out of here, just anywhere in the country, or anywhere I guess, where would you move?
I dunno. I guess a better question is: if you were thirteen feet tall, would you rather be that or have eyes on the stalks on top of your head?
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It took me a couple of hours after I finished watching "Funny Ha Ha" to realize that I'd seen a terrific movie. It raises so many little questions and offers so many quiet insights that one sitting isn't enough. While its title might fit one of those saccharine studio "youth" pictures where Reese Witherspoon lands her dream job/dream guy by being relentlessly spunky and charming, it's actually the perfect antidote to that sort of thing.
This film examines the awkward period after college and before reality pounces. It isn't neatly plotted, but feels as gawky and half-formed as its post-adolescent characters. It doesn't quite know what to say next, and when it does latch on to an idea it usually evaporates before reaching a conclusion. It looks thrift-shoppy, with grainy photography and a lighting scheme that owes more to Home Depot than the American Society of Cinematographers. It's shot in cruddy apartments and tacky offices.
Writer/director Andrew Bujalski films his shaggy-dog story in a stammering, hesitant style that fits perfectly with his protagonists. It's a wonderfully accurate portrait of aimless youth, which movies love to celebrate as freedom and adventure, but which is actually pretty boring most of the time.
Marnie, the 23-year-old central character -- let's be charitable and call her the heroine -- doesn't have a firm idea of who she is, where she's going or what she hopes for from life. She keeps a notebook full of self-improvement initiatives such as "Go to museum" and "Spend more time outside." She's a slacker's slacker stuck in a quarter-life crisis, and one of the best-rendered characters I've seen in an American movie since "Sideways." The lanky Kate Dollenmayer is wonderful as Marnie, giving her inarticulate dialogue the ring of everyday speech. A nonprofessional actress, she was one of the animators on Richard Linklater's "Waking Life," and she fits perfectly into that appealing, eccentric universe. Marnie can't express a thought without backing up and approaching it several times. Observing her conversations is like watching someone learn to parallel-park.
Marnie is at loose ends, temping and hanging out with old school chums, but unable to commit to any decision that would move her life forward. When she's buzzed, she visits a tattoo parlor, but can't decide whether she wants a geometrical design or a cow. The patient owner eases her out the door.
In a twisted come-on line, she tells an available fellow at a party that she thought about becoming a nun, but hasn't been "completely chaste." Her romantic sights are mainly set on Alex (Christian Rudder), who continually half-flirts with her before dancing away. Still, she claims to have a boyfriend when a drab co-worker (Bujalski) asks her out. They have a series of non-dates, cringe-inducing affairs in which polite chat can't disguise the lack of a spark between them.
Alex has a couple of coffee dates with Marnie, too, and she comes alive in his presence, revealing a goofy sense of humor and confidence she can't tap into under other circumstances. Unfortunately, he's just stringing her along. The film builds to a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment when Marnie sees him in a new light.
"Funny Ha Ha" will exasperate mainstream moviegoers, but patient viewers will find it insightful and funny and sad. It's destined to have a long life in many a video store's "cult-classics" section.
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