independent movies are like vegetables, or a trip to the salad
bar. Something with a lot of fiber and vitamins in it. It's
something healthy, like having your Lucky Charms with milk instead
of Bailey's Irish Cream so you don't hate yourself so much after
gorging on pure carnival crap: corn dogs, deep fried turkey
legs, Ironman, batter-dipped french fries, funnel cakes,
jumbo onion rings, snow cones, nachos, cotton candy, Speed
Racer, Indian fry bread, deep-fried Snickers, frozen lemonade
and chocolate-covered frozen bananas.
If I consumed
another sugary blockbuster this week, I knew I would puke. And
there is too much valuable hooch in my belly to let that happen.
It's been too long since I bellied up to the veggie tray and
had something good for me, something to clean out the ten pounds
of undigested cinematic crap rotting in my intestines. Something
not overly-colored, overly-produced and overly-inane.
past couple of weeks, I felt bloated and disgusting. I wanted
something good for me, so I went for the movie equivalent of
a trip to the hippie co-op. I headed downtown on transit route
52 and caught an arthouse flick, Son of Rambow at the
Landmark Esquire, my least favorite movie theater. Rambow
is supposedly a quirky comedy about two young boys from different
backgrounds who decide to make a movie together.
is, arthouse movies are a crapshoot. There is a hell of a lot
of shitty stuff, like you'd find in the bargain grain bins of
a co-op, that gets passed off as good just because it was made
on a small budget. Son of Rambow isn't another big Hollywood
clusterfuck, but it's candy-coated, just more exotic. Like,
chocolate-covered, freeze-fried tamarinds from Costa Rica, or
honey-dipped grasshopper wings from Africa. It's different enough
that it takes a little while to figure out that even though
it's different, it's still crap. And not enjoyable, either.
I say it
is supposedly quirky because nopthing that tries to be quirky
can be. You know, it's like banana-flavored candy. People might
say it tastes like bananas, but they know it isn't really because
it leaves a funny taste in your mouth. Quirky is when someone's
worldview and way of expression is genuinely askew. Fake quirky,
like Son of Rambow, is when perfectly normal people pretend
to be odd, but are too damn normal to make it believable.
have known the movie would suck when I saw all the bullshit
about how Sundance loved it. I doubt there is any more self-congratulatory
bullshit factory in the world than that wintery week where Hollywood
grassfuckers and assgrazers congregate to pretend they give
a fuck about movies. The smaller, homelier, sappier and more
bathetic you are, the more Hollywood will trip over itself to
be seen loving you. Fuck, I wish teen girls were like that.
I would have gotten laid so much in high school.
Rabow takes place in the mid-80s, and the movie constantly
reminds us of that with shitty new-wave songs by Depeche Mode
and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Bill Milner plays a sheltered
kid, about twelve, whose mother is involved in a nearly cultish
religion that doesn't allow television, movies or radios. He
apparently has a fecund imagination and covers his copy of the
bible with flipbooks and drawings of flying dogs. Strangely,
he is allowed to go to a regular school. Will Poulter plays
a wild, rich kid with no parents around. He has a video camera
and wants to win a national British competition called Screentest
for amateur filmmakers. Through a meet-cute setup, Milner ends
up at Poulter's house and sees his first movie, Rambo.
It has a profound influence on Milner, and soon the two have
the inspiration to make their own flick, Son of Rambow.
In the process, of course, the two kids from different backgrounds
become fast friends. Milner is dragged back into the cultish
religion, only to convince his mother that it was wrong all
along; kids should see Rambo.
an unnecessary and unfunny subplot about French kids coming
to Milner and Poulter's school, including one (Jules Sitruk)
who is supposed to be so cool that everyone swoons in his path.
He gets wrapped up in the moviemaking and becomes a completely
lame and unbelievable plot device to tear the boys apart. Of
course, that's only so they can see how much they need each
other in the end. The mian problem here is that Sitruk isn't
cool. And the way everyone falls all over himself isn't funny,
it's just a lame gag that goes on too long.
so much else wrong with this movie. First, it wants to be sweet,
but it doesn't have the depth to pull it off. Wanting is different
than being. Instead of genuine feelings, the movie ladles on
fake emotion and cornball situations and dialog. I never felt
a God damn thing for these kids because they never did anything
genuine. Mostly, they just seemed like pawns in the grand scheme
of director Garth Jennings' fake quirkiness.
one dimensional gee-whiz, "I've-never-seen-this-before". Eventually,
though, the poor kid gets swamped by plot, and his behavior
becomes inconsistent. Poulter is supposed to be the wild one,
but he goes soft awfully quick. Fringe characters such as Milner's
mother's zealous male friend and Poulter's Haircut 100
brother are shapeless foils with virtually no redeeming characteristics,
and no surprises.
is shot with no style, unless muddy and drab count. (And they
don't, unless you're making a snuff film.) The scenes are inconsistent
in tone; except that all are dim and gray. There is no imagination
put into how they are shot or from what angle. In fact, it all
feels like it was shot on the first take, which may be meant
to be charming. It's not, though, it's just sloppy. And sloppy
is okay when cleaning your room, doing dishes or performing
brain surgery. It just ain't acceptable when you're making a
sucks corn from a teacher's ass. It's cornball, obvious and
tired. It's also stilted. The movie is supposed to be a comedy,
but not a single joke comes from the dialog. There aren't any
surprises or depth in it, either. Mostly, it is "on the nose"
talk that simply explains exactly what you see, never adding
subtext. Every gag is visual, and in most cases they are set
up too far in advance to be funny when you finally get to the
the movie ends with one of the boys getting seriously injured,
so the other has to finish the film himself, and then surprise
the other with a big screen premier in a local theater. It's
a sappy conclusion that caps a movie that expects its audience
to buy whatever crap it serves. That includes an interlude where
all the kids stop and dance to some lame 80s song, or the inexplicable
use of a mid-70s Jonathan Richman song. That last bit just seemed
a piece of self-indulgence by the director.
know if this movie is supposed to be about the influence and
power of movies. I doubt it, because neither of the kids appears
to have any love for them, and neither does the director, Garth
Jennings. Rambo is just a prop, a silly movie that someone thought
it would be funny for kids to imitate.
for Son of Rambow. I don't know; I should stop looking
to movies for nutrients. Maybe next week I need to skip the
movies and go to a real salad bar. Mrs. Filthy goes to some
place called Sweet Tomatoes all the time and comes home with
her stretch pants stuffed with corn bread. Maybe if I go with
her, I'll get healthy, and when we get home she'll let me fish
those muffins out.
to tell Filthy Something?