a seemingly random journey through cinema's heart of darkness. so to speak.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

One more piece of validation for my unhealthy Kicking and Screaming obsession

Unless his essay in the film's upcoming (in August) Criterion release turns out to be, I dunno, a soapboax rant on miscreant youth or something, it looks like Chicago Reader great Jonathan Rosenbaum is a fan of Noah Baumbach's cultish yet still underrated portrait of post-collegiate inertia. Phew, right? As a low-budget poison pen letter to slackerdom made in the mid-'90s, featuring snappy one-liners (note: the box cover), and starring people like Chris Eigeman, Eric Stoltz and Parker Posey -- not to mention strictly-of-the-era names like Josh Hamilton, Jason Wiles, and the great Carlos Jacott -- it's easy, recently achieved acclaim aside, to lump K&S in with a certain group from a certain era. I myself have often wondered if my obsession with it -- and I can probably quote the thing from head to tail -- is chiefly due to it being roughly about people like myself, i.e., pseudo-verbose white twentysomethings who divide their time between brooding over girls and getting excited about nonsense. (And, oh, have I ever mentioned that I once co-founded a club dedicated to the film? We wrote haikus.)

But I'm probably wrong to be nebbishy. What always distinguished K&S was not only its relative visual confidence (dig the subtle, rectangular camera movements during flashbacks), but the potency of its milieu. Far from the wankerish posturing of, say, the Ben Affleck-starring Glory Daze, K&S nails the way self-deprecation becomes a prison, constant failure becomes a security blanket, and constant one-liners soon take on a menacing nature. Were you shocked by the awesomeness of The Squid and the Whale? (Let alone the more oblique kind proffered by The Life Aquatic?) I wasn't.

You may now litter my comments box with K&S quotes. I'll start: "There's also that dark side to the nosering."

By the way, if you haven't hung around Criterion's (newly spiffed-up) site recently, do. Their line-up, especially in August, is, how they say, to die for. Yi Yi and Eric Rohmer's entire "Moral Tales" cycle* are well worth the drool you'll wind up spilling, but I might be even more stoked for July's release of A Canterbury Tale, the low-key and increasingly magical film Powell & Pressburger made between Colonel Blimp and I Know Where I'm Going! The final section is something else.

And before I forget: Gratuitous Self-Promotion! This week's PW finds me being in the minority, it appears, on Richard E. Grant's autobiographical Wah-Wah, which I was an inch within fleeing when I caught it at the PFF. (My original, far less restrained take can be found here.) Also, as ever, (a measly) Rep.

* What's the dealio with Criterion going for Love in the Afternoon rather than the more prominent translation, Chloe in the Afternoon? Not hoping that Audrey Hepburn-aholics will get confused in your favor, are you?


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