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There's Always Woodstock (2014)
Well, I found something to like.
Reading the other reviews for this, I have to smile ruefully. Saying a film has absolutely zero merit is completely understandable - expected - with soulless box office cash cows. I mean, it isn't really - considering people have toiled tirelessly and put in insane hours to create it, and at least one person in the cast is probably insanely invested in it and will cry their little heart out when they read the reviews - but it's understandable. Because it's just a product.
When it comes to little hopeful offerings like this one - an idea some budding director has probably had for years, worked so hard to get made, and probably never expected it to - it's not only a little cruel but stupid.
Because you can tell the director of this little film, Rita Merson, cared a lot about making it. "I watched 'Pretty Woman' and it was all over," says Merson. "I became a connoisseur of the romcom."
She made this with a recently broken heart. That went into the making of this film. As cliché as it is, getting your heart broken is still one of the most intense, multi-layered and transformative experiences of grief and longing in existence. So, no. I have a heart, and that automatically makes this film something to me.
That doesn't mean it's a very good film. It doesn't pretend to be. It's warm, strange, neurotic and often desperate, but it doesn't try to make any great Statement about love and music and self-discovery. It does what you want a little romcom to do - tell a story and make you laugh and feel things. And it does that just fine.
I was sometimes frustrated watching it. It was light. Sometimes frothy. The subject matter, under the hand of a more indie director who takes themselves a little too seriously, could have given something a little more raw and meaningful.
But this was sweet. The lead actress was wonderful to watch, very different. Her neuroticism, meant to make you fall a bit in love with her, worked. She wasn't too adorable. I liked her, and her voice, if it's hers, and forgave her for seeming to know absolutely nothing about music or authenticity.
Sometimes the dialogue was hilarious. Never inspired, never Nora Ephron, but original and laugh-out-loud. Almost every encounter with the doctor, who wasn't bad himself.
I'm just saying. It had a heart. It made me feel things. It was fun. It was warm and sparky. It cheered me up. And her voice is very good.
So thanks, Rita Merson.
I say Profound, you say Pretentious
The instant I saw the boy from Glee on the screen with his college sweater, against a score of staccato claps, I knew this film and the word 'Pretentious' were already entwined till the credits with the muted plucking music.
So as the Backlash B-tch I am, I decided to watch the whole film just to spite that particular stereotype.
God, I'm glad I did! I was born in a religious cult...called C.O.G. So it's kind of unsurprising that I resonated with it. But this film has so much that is human, and raw, and true about it that it has to have some impact on the rest of you. Groff's performance goes from cocky and superior in the most honest portrayal of the usual American postgrad I've seen, to so vulnerable and naive and yearning that my heart felt like it was being crushed. He's as lost, disenfranchised and confused as every other 20-something I know - but it seeps out of his pores and swims in his eyes in a way that's very hard to watch. I guess that's the Millenial Generation, stripped bare and made fun of, yet not looked down on. David is just a boy, not a polarising symbol of a Lost Generation, and the film knows this.
Just a boy. That's why it hurt to see him be taken advantage of, time and again. It hurt even more, for me, to watch him try to find himself and cure his sexual 'sickness' in religion. I have known people like John. They exist. Everyone in this film exists.
I'm not being coherent. This film impacted me that much.
I think you should watch it.
What was that?
Whatever it was, it nearly made me suffocate with holding my breath.
You know that feeling you get, that almost nausea, that exhilarating terror when you take the plunge over a roller-coaster loop, that feeling of stretching out a finger to barely touch something transcendental, that white blank feeling you get when you've hit ground zero and the truth is there, almost there...
I've had that feeling before. I almost can't quite remember when, just that the enormity of feeling something like that couldn't possibly be contained in a memory.
This makes no sense, does it?
I don't know - but tell me you didn't feel something rare when you watched Bing nearly commit cultural, political and physical suicide on that stage. I've never seen anything that's managed to depress and stimulate me at once. I've never seen anything that raw and human. Not for a long time.
And transcribe the end speech. I would have that tattOOED.
There are two kinds of series.
Type 1: Straightforward dialog anybody over 12 and with the concentration span of a 13 year old can follow. Character's lines are typically drawn up from a list of 100 words and 10 melodramatic quotes to convey the maximum 3 types of emotions allowed. To compensate, the performances are either ridiculously over the top in an attempt to be original, or the kind of performance that takes itself WAY too seriously, as if humans are all walking tragedies. Plot lines are equally as simple so as to not cause even a flicker of confusion, enabling you to watch in a semi-conscious state where you use about 3 brain processes.
Type 2: Characters that surprise and intrigue you from the first episode, who you may like one second and dislike the next (much like real people). Characters that don't do everything but look straight into the camera and say LOVE ME, REPEAT MY QUOTES or HATE ME, BUT ALSO REPEAT MY QUOTES BECAUSE I AM HARD. Dialogue that is rapid-fire and unique to a particular kind of people (because nobody speaks sitcom in real life), that makes you feel like you're eavesdropping on real people. Characters who aren't defined by their looks but by their, wait for it, CHARACTERS. No glamour injected into lifestyles that are actually ordinary. Plots that reveal fresh and sometimes uncomfortable truths about life. Or paramedics.
Sirens is Type 2. It's excellent, gritty comedy with a bit of world weary wisdom thrown in. The comedy ranges from witty banter between the three main characters, to some brilliant caricature from Fonejacker virtuoso Kayvan Novak, to black fatalistic medical humor which never strays into the melodramatic. If this were a Type 1 series, the pretty Madden would be held up for female consumption as the good-enough-to-eat male lead; instead he opens a frank door onto the gay lifestyle without glamming it up. The best material, however, comes from Rhys Thomas. A character who is hardened to the point of being a sociopath, his cynical, sterilised insights into human nature are pure gold.
These characters aren't people you'd sell your soul to be; they're just people you'd like to know.