Thursday, July 21, 2005

Funny Ha Ha (Andrew Bujalski) and Me and You and Everyone We Know (Miranda July)

Funny Ha Ha

Me and You and Everyone We Know

It was exciting for me this week to see two new films by two young American filmmakers and to be excited, engaged, upset, and energized by their films. It doesn't seem fair to compare the two, but I'm going to do it because both filmmakers are close to my age, both films are honest about loneliness, and I like these movies. Of the two, I think Funny Ha Ha is the better work, but it's not like they're both throwing the shot put at a track meet. Both films are playing in Austin right now, both will be on video soon, no either/or choice has to be made unless you have one day to live, and in that case, you shouldn't be wasting your time watching a couple of movies anyway. Bujalski's film is a minor masterpiece of unease, inarticulateness, awkward pauses, ellipses, and shifting meanings. Bujalski has mentioned being hugely influenced by John Cassavetes and Mike Leigh (coincidentally, two of my favorites), but he's invented a cinematic language of his own. This film is painfully awkward and true, and my life is better for having seen it. I also loved July's film, though it's a lot more conventional, albeit an indie hipster conventionality. There are more flaws in July's film. A few scenes are generically indie, a few others tip dangerously over into sentimentality, but the majority of this debut feature is human, funny, and curiously uplifting. While Bujalski's dialogue is full of silences, pauses, losses for words, and aversions of meaning, July's characters can't help but blurt out exactly what they mean. In both films, these speech patterns leave the characters frustrated and lonely. July seems more interested in searching for happy endings, but she's equally adept at getting honest performances from her actors. July's film also offers the bonus of one of the funniest scenes I've ever seen. It involves two kids, a computer, and the word "poop." I won't spoil it by revealing anything else.

No comments:

Blog Archive