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Yes, Andrew Bujalski is in the film. Yes, it's shot with a hand-held
naturalistic camera. Yes, it has a true-to-life acting that feels
improvised. But this is not your average mumble-core movie (whatever
that is). This is something altogether different.
"I just like boning my sister. What can I say. She's hot."
This is the kind of humor that permeates throughout RSO, which I saw last night at sxsw. It's so modest in it's presentation that the fact you are laughing almost feels accidental. Nobody's trying to make you laugh, it's just funny.
It's so hard to describe this type of movie. It's scrappy. It's raw. The whole thing is shot on hand-held HD. It's hard to compare this to any other film, simply because most films made on this scale simply aren't as funny as this one. Take the dialog and wit from Welcome to the Dollhouse, the quickness of Waiting for Guffman, add a pinch of Heathers, and combine the aesthetic of Funny Ha Ha with The Office, and you almost have an idea of what this film is.
Here's a scene. A group of sex offenders are all gathered in a room. To finally learn the err of their ways. To figure out how to move on with their lives. To bond. You've got Kevin Corrigan playing the group counselor. Sounds pretty heavy-- turns out to be some of the most funny material in the whole film.
But there's more to it as well. As the humor unfolds at pretty rapid pace, there's something deeper going on as well. While watching a very ordinary-on-the-surface slice-of-life portrayal of one young sex offender, there's a whole F You aspect to the movie at the same time.
Nobody would ever think to take this character, and make him the main character of a movie. He's like that dude that crashed your party last summer, drank all your beer, and refused to leave. But he's not "the bad guy who you end up loving"... you pretty much remain mildly sympathetic to his condition. And yet -F YOU- you can't tear your eyes off him. The core relationship in this movie is impossible. This nameless sex offender is with the most smoking hot way-too-young-looking-girlfriend. The girl in this movie, by the way, is destined for the cover of Maxim. But you're watching an obvious train wreck, two people who should have NEVER even met in the first place. And as you're thinking "Why is she with this jackass", -F YOU- the film makes you remember the number of girls that you wish you could have dated, but didn't, because they were with this guy. It's more truthful than it could ever be.
The film throws traditional narrative in your face. Some scenes are comprised of reality TV show like "testimonials." Some scenes it feels like the characters are aware of the presence of the camera, and are hamming it up. And other scenes, they just play out naturally (some almost voyeuristically). The film doesn't care about the rules and doesn't concern itself with trying to make you like it. But -F YOU- because of this you can't help but be sucked in by it all. And at the same time, as low budget and scrappy as this is... and how the whole movie feels somewhat "accidental" in a way... You can tell a whole lot of thought went into it. That's what separates RSO from all mumble-core movies. I've seen a few of them, and they seem interested primarily just in capturing real emotions and simply stringing them together. With RSO, despite the limitations with budget, they are taking this way further. There are real ideas behind it, and it oddly enough does force you to think about what you're watching. But more importantly, unlike all those other films, it's actually got pacing. Despite a strong narrative, the film moves quickly, keeps you laughing, and simply entertains and delivers, without making you sit through a bunch of mopey crap.
I'd really love to track down this filmmakers previous films; he's got several on his IMDb, and I'd even more like to see what he'd do with a budget. At the same time, there's something kind of awesome about how raw this film is, and the fact that I was one of the 100 people that will probably see it. It's kind of like when you hear a band you really like, you almost don't want them to get famous. It's more special and it feels like that band is making music Just For You. Well with RSO, the filmmakers made this film Just For Me.
What are the negatives? If you like polished film-making, don't go see it. If you're looking to go to a movie with your mom, don't go see it. If you think that being a sex offender is something that you're morally opposed to laughing at, DEFINITELY don't see it. But if watching some dude talking to his therapist about "face boning" his giant teddy bear, if that sounds like a good night out the movies to you.... I think it's playing a few more times at the fest and it's worth seeing. If not, I hope it'll come out-- it's definitely a cult -get-together- with-your-friends-and-watch-it-on-a-Saturday-night- kind of film.
But again, writing this review, that's just me saying "I heard them first."
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Byington crashes out of the gate with his third feature and this time his Terrence Malick styled voice overs vanish in favor of expert interview documentary/reality show indirect monologue. The crux of understanding rests on the audience's ability to decode and dismiss first act admissions of atrocity by the lead as absurd. His true confession does not come til the third act(begin spoiler) when he reveals that his punishable offense is sending a naked greeting card without a proper address to his girlfriend on her birthday(end spoiler). So the film works better on a second viewing because then his struggle to perform a role he does not feel is fairly assigned makes a different sense. Life itself demands performativity of nonvoluntarily assigned roles, so Byington's film serves as a useful meditation on complications of the existentialist dilemma in light of postmodern sensibilities of the authenticity of the simulacra. Performances and personas have become more real to society than authentically candid personalities: Byington may be unique in his ability to expose and problematize this phenomenon. The third act of RSO where Damian Young (character is named Bob Byington) announces "we won't do this anymore" and taxonomically pulls responsibility out of the lead as if with a long hook up the nose brings resolution to all of the character journeys with impossibly well choreographed plot devices.
I loved it. Definitely not for some. Very esoteric. Still, Really funny
if you like dry humor over a subject that shouldn't be funny or just
poking fun at Texas. Great acting, Great dialogue. A couple of big
names in there Not that it needed it. Not something that would come on
in theaters. Watched it on netflix with some friends. We had a good
time. Re-watched it again recently. Love the pauses and staunch looks
at real life relationships. Too real for some, I bet.
My favorite parts were the scenes where main character has to go on interviews for jobs with a clearly no care attitude. Very real, Felt like many I have been in or seen happen. Seth rogan~esque in the sense that it shouldn't be funny to talk about real life, but sometimes is. Definitely worth a watch if you're into alternative humor.
I really wanted to like this movie, and - sporadically - I did. The
actors are good, the characters and conceit are basically funny, and
the camera-work was pro, but most of the (hopefully improvised) comedy
was grasping at straws and fails by relying on the obvious jokes.
It's like, you know when you're watching sketch comedy, and a skit may have a funny idea but the jokes are just basically "isn't this a funny idea?" over and over. i.e. most of Mad TV and SNL.
Now compare that to someone like Chevy Chase or Richard Pryor, or even Larry David, who are able to totally improvise with style and creativity and intelligence. They can be shocking and seriously funny.
It just felt like comically these film-makers were slightly out of their depth, as if the actors didn't have time to rehearse or get a read on each other before filming.
That said, the main character and a number of the supporting characters were likable, which is no small potatoes given the topic.
And there were several (probably less than 10) moments that were genuinely funny. For instance the scene that takes place in the church and afterward where he's like "do you think that shirt is appropriate for church?!" Still, the majority of the dialogue felt forced and straining for laughs. I'll watch anything Kevin Corrigan is in, but his group therapy scenes were kind of depressing and blunt, while trying to be shocking.
Neither terrible nor good overall; I could imagine this done much better. Nice effort for taking on an "unsellable" topic.
I love independent films. For the most part, you must take some with a
grain of salt to get through them. Sometimes they are so raw that you
must look deep for the message, or meaning. And some have a simple
provocative controversial thought they are trying to relay. You must
take into account that these films are made on a shoe string budget and
make allowances. Actually, I like the feel of the low budget
Independent movies. With all that said, this movie wasn't worth the $
500,000 they spent to make it.
I saw this recently at one of our Independent Film movie theatres, "The Roxie" for a modest ticket price of $3.00. I spend more on a sandwich than this, but I and many more in the theatre wanted our money back. What a waste of time. I think my time is worth more than that, but they all can't be winners.
Please remember that if you still decide to see it after you read my blurb and you agree that it sucked, "I told you so"
I don't see a lot of independent films, and only go to a handful when they are around or if a friend is going. I saw this one last night, and was really surprise that i liked it. It's really "indie" in that there's no celebrities, only a couple that i think i've seen in stuff. It also just feels "indie", not sure how to describe it other than it's not like a normal film. Your watching it and it feels indie. I was surprised that I liked it so much... a lot of films like this i don't quiet understand why people like 'em. they're indie, so what? But for this one it was just so funny i laughed a lot. the main guy who plays in it, he's not like a normal movie leading man, he's like the guy who would be the main guys friend. or the bad guy. but he was just really funny. i would hate to be the girl in this movie! why is she with him? anyhow, you should see it if you like to laugh. even though it was a weird indie film i laughed more than i do in normal films. we were laughing so much! it kind of reminded me of the 40 year old guy, but without Steve carrel or the waxing scene.
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