Thursday, October 18, 2007
You and Me and Nothing I Wanna See
Whenever I read critics of Wes Anderson's films describe them as "precious" and "twee," I have to wonder precisely what adjectives they would then use to describe the oeuvre of Miranda July? Having just caught on DVD her hideous breakout indie, Me and You and Everyone We Know, I would characterize her as a second-rate performance artist masquerading as a writer-director-actor were it not for the fact that that's exactly what she plays in the film. Here's to typecasting, I suppose. Her character is an eccentric lonelyheart who falls for a masochistic shoe salesman (John Hawkes) who likes to set his hands on fire--because, hey, who doesn't?--who in turn has an adolescent son propositioned by a pair of sexually competitive teenage girls and a younger boy who unwittingly discovers internet sex (it's played for laughs that he doesn't grasp the concept), and so on and so forth. Bouncing with faux-sensitivity from one character to the next, it's sort of like an Altman film directed by a mime.
Lord knows female filmmakers don't get nearly the credit they deserve. The talented Lisa Cholodenko has made only two films released theatrically in the last decade--the acclaimed High Art and the underrated Laurel Canyon. (Cholodenko's movies, while trafficking thematically in circles similar to July's, ultimately celebrate the artistic process and understand the difference between depicting pretention and being injected with it.) Eight years ago Kimberly Peirce wrote and directed Boys Don't Cry, one of the most audacious and visually poetic debuts I've ever seen, and dropped off the map (at least until Stop Loss, her Iraq war movie coming out next year). In every genre, movies desperately need more of a feminine sensibility behind the camera. The last thing they need are smug quirkpeddlers named Miranda July.