This might come as a shock to some of you, as I've never really brought it up on this site (well, maybe once or twice), but I am in deep, romantic, personal, epic, carnal, intellectual, visceral, homo/hetero/bi-sexual love with Ronald Bronstein's FROWNLAND. FROWNLAND is a work of 100% direct personal expression that throbs with breathtaking, staggering purity. It also hugs my soul for it manages to combine my own favorite cinematic influences (namely Frederick Wiseman, Mike Leigh, and John Cassavetes) and rebirth them into something distinct and original. That is what makes FROWNLAND such a miracle. Not to be solipsistic, but an artist like Ronnie Bronstein makes me question my own ability to express myself. Compared to FROWNLAND... well, let's just leave it at that. But don't worry, I'll keep trying.
In fairness to the other nominees in the Gotham Awards "Best Film Not Playing At A Theater" category, I haven't seen any of your films. They are, as follows: OFF THE GRID: LIFE ON THE MESA, AUGUST THE FIRST, MISSISSIPPI CHICKEN, and LOREN CASS. Go to the MOMA website for details on this weekend's screenings. I have spoken to many folks in the industry who have seen and like all of those films. But pardon my unabashed Bronsteinian patriotism, for a moment, please. If FROWNLAND doesn't win this award, I'll eat my iPod. And I'll film it for your viewing pleasure.
Speaking of striking personal expressions, I caught Richard Kelly's SOUTHLAND TALES last night. I don't know, man. When you walk out of a theater championing everything about the movie except the movie itself, that isn't necessarily a good thing, right? I applaud Kelly's ambition, and I also hope he continues to make movies on a grand scale. But for me, at least 60% of this thing played like an unfunny IDIOCRACY. The first ninety minutes were pretty excruciating. But after Justin Timberlake's amazing Killers lip-synch moment, it numbed me into some weird state of submission. So while I kept saying to myself, "This really isn't working," I also couldn't deny the fact that my brain felt like it was in some alternate universe. I actually think SOUTHLAND TALES might be one of those freakish movies that you don't enjoy or take seriously when you watch it, yet as it settles in the back of your brain it does work. Like something along the lines of DON'T BE A MENACE TO SOUTH CENTRAL WHILE DRINKING YOUR JUICE IN THE HOOD. Sitting through it is pretty boring, but when you talk about it days later it somehow becomes laugh-out-loud funny. Am I making any sense here? I definitely wouldn't tell anyone not to see SOUTHLAND TALES--on the contrary, perhaps--I just worry that Kelly was swayed by the DONNIE DARKO hype and tried to do to wayyyy too much with the bat this time around. As usual, I appreciate Manohla Dargis's take on the situation--yes, it is nice to see someone swinging for the fence--but to these disbelieving eyes, the ball only made it to shallow left (if that). Oh yeah, I should also say that aside from the Timberlake lip-synch, the only other moment that I thought was an official keeper was the improv fight between Amy Poehler and Avon Barskdale (I mean, Wood Harris). Avon is funny!
I'll end with a completely random thought. If and when Gus Vant Sant makes the official Elliott Smith biopic, he should definitely cast Paul Dano in the lead role. Ever since I saw Paul Dano my lookalike call for him was right on the edge of my brain, but after seeing the THERE WILL BE BLOOD trailer the other night it hit me. If anyone ever does make that movie--and I pray with all of my veins that nobody does--Paul Dano is the guy for the job.
Speaking of lookalikes, get ready to meet my very own doppelganger on this site next week. People always tell me I look like this person or that person, but as President and Founder of The Lookalike Game, I can firmly say that they're always wrong. The person I actually look like is such an insane carbon copy that I have to question if I actually am him. And, no, it's not a compliment. Or maybe it is? You'll see what I mean.
Speaking of see, I'll see y'all at FROWNLAND tomorrow at 4:30.