How shitty was music
a decade ago? I was pretty drunk at that time, sort of like
now, so I don't have total recall but it must have been pretty
fucking awful with all that Blink 182, Limp Bizkit, Green Day
and Slipknot. Perhaps t raised a generation that sought to find
a message in someone else's music. After all, those bands are
all shitty facsimiles of what came directly before them. The
reason I believe this is because, in movies, the kids have skipped
over that crap and use the sound of the 80s and early 90s: Pixies,
Replacements, The Smiths and so on. Why couldn't they find their
own voice? Didn't they get the notice that pop music is disposable?
I ask this question
because the fucking dreadful and faux sweet (500) Days of
Summer, about contemporary people in their twenties, relies
heavily on a soundtrack from a decade before the characters'
youths. Yes, the title has parentheses in it, just like (and
as pretentious as) a self-important pop song. The movie was
co-written by the folks responsible for the floater in the tank
Pink Panther 2, a clinical example of bile regurgitation.
I am sad to say that in (Summer) a character struts around
Los Angeles to a Hall & Oates tune with a flank of Solid Gold
rejects, and that an animated bluebird of happiness also appears.
The movie's guts are not only shaped by the makers' belief in
the twee drivel of "Belle and Sebastian", it directly quotes
the band and then tells us doing so is irresistible.
plays a greeting card writer--yes, seriously, the screenwriters
are that fucking lame--who once wanted to be an architect. It
cracks me up that the smug hacks behind this shit look down
on greeting cards without realizing they write above that level
of schmaltz and corniness but using hipper locales and wardrobes.
Levitt-Gordon is a droopy dullard friends with a couple of lame-ass
boiler-plate movie "guy" friends who play tabletop Donkey Kong
with him and say preposterous shit like, "You're the best guy
I know" when not taking a weak stab at playfully calling each
other gay. Oh, those guys! Because movie cliches aren't heavy
enough, the story also inexplicably gives Gordon-Levitt a sassy
younger sister who gives him romantic advice that is wise beyond
her years (and that has no impact on the story other than its
another cutesy bullshit touchstone).
office and his life comes Zooey Deschanel, a girl who, we're
told, is irresistibly adorable but apparently has no friends,
no history and little in her repertoire besides Mona Lisa smiles
and the sort of outsized confidence lonely male writers assign
to girls they never speak to.
of personality or presence is, I guess, the point because Levitt-Gordon
falls madly in love with her, or at least decides he has, regardless
of who she is and despite her telling him they are only fuck
friends and that she doesn't believe in love. He is left to
build her into something enormous in his mind, something that
he can't live without. The movie then goes through the (500)
days of joy and sadness the couple endures before breaking up
for good and going different directions. Their joys are the
sort of fake cutesy bullshit that might be in International
Coffee commercials if they were dreamed up by someone who hung
out in a record shop for a day. They pretend to live in the
model rooms of an Ikea (and crack each other up), they watch
porn all cute-like, as though part of the joy isn't getting
turned on, feeling a little dirty and a little grossed out,
and they talk about how much they love the Smiths.
(50)0 Days (of)
Summer is the most solipsistic movies I've seen since Andy
Warhol's fourteen-hour Super-8 film of his navel. The amount
of gravity put on a paper-thin romance is far more painful than
anything the characters do or supposedly feel. That's because
director Marc Webb never places the romance in any larger context.
It's like a hermetic bubble in which only these two people live,
and only the writer and director's experience matters. It makes
the story shallow and suffocating. Webb assumes this is a universal
story that the audience immediately relates to and secondary
characters and subplots aren't worth developing. Late in the
movie, Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel reunite at a wedding, but
the movie never even bothers to introduce us to the couple marrying.
He also uses the Smiths, Replacements and Clash because they
are the music of his youth, not that of his characters. Similarly,
shots of these lovers as kids are on Super 8, which looks cool,
but since they were little kids in the early 90s, where the
hell did their parents get that film developed? The local art
school? It's this total disregard for period detail that inform
you Webb really has a limited understanding of the generation
Webb and his writers
lard the flick with tired gimmickry: characters address the
camera directly with a smirk or speeches about what love means
to them (in black and white! What the fuck is this, first year
film school?). There are two drunken karaoke sessions. There
is ironic voiceover telling us this movie is not a love story
(wink, wink). There is the aforementioned Hall & Oates dancing-in-the-streets
sequence that's so fucking long and so God damn precious it
made me take off one of my shoes and vomit in it. And I would
have liked that better, except I had puked some bad carnitas
into the bushes before I entered the theater so the well was
dry. I want to warn you away from Gordon-Levitt's big speech
at a company meeting about how greeting cards are insincere
and prevent people from really expressing themselves. He then
quits his job and mopes around in his bathrobe like an old curmudgeon.
Add in the unbearable scene where Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel
go to a modern art exhibit and stare at stuff they don't understand
until finally saying, "Want to go to a movie?" It's like a compendium
of cute scenes that never happen in real life but are still
trite because the sentiment behind them are so fucking dimestore
cheap. To think Webb and his screenwriters have the balls to
fling that shit at the screen and still put down greeting cards.
(500 Days) of
(Summer) was made by people who are really impressed with
themselves, and so self-absorbed they have no idea how uninteresting
they are. It looks like a director's first attempt, before he
learns restrain, and it treats its lightweight sentimentality
with way too much regard. I found it damn near unwatchable,
like seeing a sort-of-attractive girl at a coffee shop holding
a Deepak Chopra book and hoping someone notices how deep and
intellectual she's being. She has no clue, and neither do the
makers of 5(0)0 D(a)ys of Sum(me)r. (One) Fucking
to tell Filthy Something?