This week:
Igby Goes Down

Filthy says:
"Somebody kill J.D. Salinger so he can turn in his grave."

J. D. Salinger must be one really fat fucker because there seems to be plenty of him for young writers to feast on. It's a certain type of writer, the kind who fancies himself some sort of artistic hot shit with big things to say, but who can't come up with his own masterpiece when he's got paper in front of himself. Igby Goes Down is a blatant ripoff of not only "Catcher in the Rye," but also any of the Glass Family stories that Salinger wrote before he holed himself up in Connecticut with enough royalties for all the pay-per-view porn an old man could ever want. Kieran Culkin's Igby is supposed to Holden Caulfield, kicked out of school, on the lam in New York City and bitching about hypocrisy. And while he has a few good lines, and there are some good scenes, it's still an imitation without any sincere emotions.

Director-writer Burr Steers has a really fucking cool name. I don't know if it's his real name, if his parents were some sort of cattle-raising hippies or if he concatenated it himself Midwestern billboards. If it's real, I wish I was born into his family. If it's fake, well, then what a cheater. A name isn't cool if you give it to yourself. Except maybe, like Candy Bottoms or Wally Bigpenis. Anyway, Steers has a cool name but he doesn't have a lot of self-restraint. Igby Goes Down rambles and meanders around so many characters and subplots that it ruins what could have been an effective and touching ending.

Culkin is Igby (not his real name), the seriously pissed off and "brilliant" youngest son of a wealthy drunkard mother and an institutionalized father. He's been kicked out of every protestant school on the East Coast, and rather than head to military school, he runs away and hides out in New York with "colorful" downbeat characters. He shacks up at his godfather's mistress's apartment. She is played by the increasingly unappealing Amanda Peet, an actress who is more than happy to flash her tits, but also wants to be Meryl Streep. See, she's a heroin addict here, and tries real hard to look all doped up and dramatic.

Culkin's mom is dying of breast cancer, and rather than confront his estrangement from her he stays on the lam. He has sex and falls in love with Claire Danes, bones Peet, becomes a drug-runner, gets mixed up in his godfather's personal life and ultimately helps his brother kill their mother, per her request. It should build to this mercy killing as an act of love with Culkin slowly coming to terms with his fucked up parents, and realizing that his mother is a mess but she did what she could for him. Instead, it's just the conclusion of a series of scenes that don't add up to much other than a series of events that Steers thought up.

Culkin's character is supposed to be smart, too smart for his own good. We're supposed to feel sorry for him because of the weight on his shoulders, and see the parallel between him and his loony father. We're supposed to see that he is afraid to acknowledge that he is genetically tied to his family and can never escape them. But, every other scene undermines this premise. There is just too much extraneous crap slopped into the movie because Steers can't control himself. There are too many characters that he tries to make "characters" for the basic story to have the impact intended. Rather than build to a deep understanding of this kid and feel sorry for him, the movie just wanders all over New York looking like a drunk whose about to wet his pants because there are no public toilets.

Really, the final scenes of Culkin finally facinghis mother could be plenty powerful, and should be. But Steers is too busy throughout the story trying to be really dark. He undermines any impact with irrelevant scenes that are bitter for the sake of being bitter. Oh, they're nice scenes, but they don't add to the total. And it's not like I have any place to complain. I know all about bitter for the sake of bitter. It's a great way to be left alone in bars. But for fuck's sake, I give it away for free. For eight bucks, it'd be nice if the bitterness either had lots of nudity or a point.

The worst thing in the movie is Peet's story. She's a shitty actress who got pretty far on her tomboyish good looks, but now she thinks she's gonna turn herself into an "actor" by taking "gritty" roles. Her character is dull and wears notably ugly clothes and way too much time is spent with her when she means nothing. Similarly, Steers seems to want to say something about Jeff Goldblum's rich, land-developing philanderer, but I couldn't figure out what. Maybe it's the tired and true Hollywood adage that rich people aren't really happy or some other artifically flavored shit on a sugar cone. Danes doesn't add much either. It's nice to see her back in movies, but she sort of lost her innocent look. Now she looks like a former teen star who had some run-ins with the law. And her part of the story is loaded with scenes that are there just so Steers could get some witty bon mots into the story.

Steers also blares the Goddamn soundtrack as though it were the Allman Brothers and he drove a Camaro. Every so often, the movie is drowned out by retro-rock that sounds like the selections of a poor-man's Wes Anderson. The songs are a bit too loud and a bit too obvious, making it seem like the flick is trying to get its "cool" credentials.

Overall, it's just another Salinger ripoff. It's better than most, but as unfocused as those pictures I took of the squirrels that were humping in the tree by my window in the middle of the night. Three Fingers for Igby Goes Down.

Want to tell Filthy Something?

Filthy's Reading
Robert Louis Stevenson - Kidnapped

Listening to
Ted Hawkins- Songs From Venice Beach


We have a newly Christened Whore!
Clay Smith of Access Hollywood

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Swimfan is "A scary, suspenseful end-of-the-summer surprise!"


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