Friday, 24 February 2012

Guesty's Cult/Arthouse Movie Club

Hey you guys!!

This week in Guesty's Cult/Arthouse Movie Club we take a look at the perennial outsiders, those social misfits trying so desperately just to fit in. 

Characters like Seymour the archetypal social outsider played in 2001's Ghost World by the wonderful Steve Buscemi. Seymour a nerdy downbeat record collector is the epitome of a regular guy who, if not exactly content with his life, accepts it and has no delusions as to who and what he is. There's a touch of Donnie from `'The Big Lebowski' in him, but with much more depth. This is a guy who doesn't expect much, because he knows he'll never get it anyway. However even though he accepts who he is Seymour still struggles to maintain any kind of meaningful relationship, he even states 'I can't relate to 99% of humanity', that is until he befriends Thora Birch's character Enid who is in her own way also an outsider. 

This film which is based on the Graphic Novel by Daniel Clowes basically examines the methods people employ in their continual attempts to connect with the world in which they live, and how they negotiate their specific time, place and environment. A comedy/drama directed by Terry Zwigoff, it explores what it means to be on the outside looking in, without necessarily wanting to be on the inside, but unsure of what the next move should be or to whom or what we should reach out and embrace. And, as the story unfolds, we discover that the elusive answers have much to do with our own preferences and perceptions of a world in a constant state of flux that refuses to slow down or wait for us to make our decisions. 

Me and You and Everyone we Know (2005) is an observation of how people struggle to connect with one another in an isolating and contemporary world. Christine Jesperson (Miranda July) is a lonely artist and "Eldercab" driver who uses her fantastical artistic visions to draw her aspirations and objects of desire closer to her. Richard Swersey (John Hawkes), a newly single shoe salesman and father of two boys, is prepared for amazing things to happen. But when he meets the captivating Christine, he panics. Life is not so oblique for Richard's six-year-old Robby, who is having a risqué Internet romance with a stranger, and his fourteen-year-old brother Peter who becomes the guinea pig for neighbourhood girls -- practising for their future of romance and marriage. 

I had the good fortune to see this wonderful film at the San Sebastian Film Festival  Miranda July plays the lead character in what turns out to be an ensemble of people, each with his/her own quirks, who are somehow linked together. This movie is made up of what could be described as a collection of short films. Each scene builds on the previous scene, adding one more enticing facet to a personality; one more little twist to a story. By the final scene, each character has as much depth and complexity as some of the real people we know. Indeed, one might wish that everyone was as interesting as the characters in this film.

The film was well received by both audience and critics, movie database imdb users rate the movie 7.4, while rotten tomatoes gives it 84%. It also won, special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, the won the Caméra d'Or award at the Cannes Film Festival and numerous other prizes at other international Film Festivals.

The most recent example of outsiders being portrayed in a film is Submarine the debut film from Richard Ayoade star of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace (2004) which tells the tale of Oliver Tate a 15 year-old Swansea boy in 1986 who is convinced that he is an unrivalled genius who is widely loved by his classmates, when in fact he is pretentious and socially alienated. He is also in love with a mischievous but straight-talking girl named Jordana. Adapted from the 2008 novel of the same name by Joe Dunthorne it's basically a coming of age tale following Oliver at a stage in his life when he is caught at the junction between childhood and adulthood as he struggles with his first feelings of love, desire, heartbreak and must choose what path he wishes to take that will define who he is for the rest of his life  

This film is both quirky and humorous with the occasional slightly dark twist, Oliver could come across as pretentious nosey and self-absorbed teenager,  however his intelligence and amusing voice-over detract from this and frequently keep the pace moving with witty dialogue such as 'my mother is worried I have mental problems. I found a book about teenage paranoid delusions during a routine search of my parents' bedroom'.

Craig Roberts who plays Oliver in this film is brilliant. His character is self-important and self-absorb but he still has heart. Roberts really manages to portray a character who generally prefers his own company to others and who's strangeness makes him different from other teenagers. This film is packed with original moments, quotable lines and memorable little quirks, overall it is a highly enjoyable look at the awkwardness of being a teenager capturing how intensely adolescents feel about their experiences and thoughts.

Joshua Ross

Finally we have the fantastic The Squid and the Whale (2006)The Squid and the Whale tells the story of two young teenagers dealing with their parents' divorce in Brooklyn in the 1980s. The language and situations are tough but very believable, both teenagers feel messed-up and insecure and both are affected with abnormal behaviors. Most people will be able to relate to what the teen characters in this film go through, taking their side against their self-involved and self-indulgent parents. This film has a  great script written by Noah Baumbach and even better acting which all add together to highlight the tale of a family on the skids. Every member of the family is brilliantly brought to life and even though they are acting in their own flawed, selfish and self-annihilating ways you won't be able to help but get attached to all of the characters.

All in all for those of you who are enamored with films that feature 'quirky'  socially awkward characters, I say this, there is very little wrong with these charming and complex films which attempt to effectively communicate the emotional state and personality of our aforementioned protagonists, a group of people who all see the world in a unique way to everyone else. These protagonists live submerged between two worlds, disconnecting from reality. We identify with them as characters, not because they are without flaws, but because we can see in them, our own halting steps towards maturity. 
It is sad to say as always that these films, like so many others that are superior to the over publicised so called 'blockbusters', will probably not reach the audiences that they deserve. 

Ultimately there's nothing wrong with being different from the norm but there's no need to take the piss. 

Until next time its well plastic yeah!! keep it foolish!



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