This week:

Filthy says:
"Cornfed decency

Most moviemakers treat people in the flyover states like last-place finishers in the Special Olympics. They treat themselves like the winners, but my thoughts about Hollywood being the biggest retard lovefest in the world are for another time. So, as I was saying, most filmmakers want to feel better by giving us plainsfolk a pat on the back and saying we're winners too. We matter to them, not that they'd ever want to spend any time visiting or learning what we're really like, but they just want us to know that they haven't forgotten to pretend they understand us.

People in the Midwest talk slow, and their simple lives unfold in corn or soybean fields. They drive beat up old trucks, act like taciturn hicks, and then occasionally say something of phenomenal wisdom meant to stun moviegoers into thinking, "Wow, those farmers aren't as big a shitheads as I thought they were. I'm going to start wearing their clothes, but in an ironic way."

That's the payoff. The smug moviemakers think do the little people a favor by making up some poignant bullshit and attributed it to them. They don't ever ask Middle America if we need any favors because that would require actually talking to us. It's like the Special Olympics. How many of those kids would rather stay home and jerk off onto a stuffed bear or put foil in the microwave? Well, fuck you! You're going to the Goddamn games because that one day a year where I hug you makes me feel better about myself.

Tully has the farmer-as-fashion odor of high-falutin' cinema. The setting is romanticized beyond any connection to reality. It's a farm melodrama taking place in some mystical Nebraska rural community where the radio plays hipster y'alternative instead of right-wing blowhards and swap-n-shops, there are plenty of places for young people to hang out, lots of available swimming holes and the old movie theater is still open and shows Hitchcock retrospectives to packed houses. And yet, for all that fraud, there is more genuine feeling in this movie than most of Hollywood's hamfisted Middle-America turds. It's unhurried and does manage some nice moments.

Anson Mount plays Tully, the local playboy. He's a young man of indeterminate age who hasn't grown up, but is staying right where he is. He was told his mother died years ago, but the truth is she ran away long ago, leaving the father (Bob Burrus) to care for Mount and his younger brother (Glenn Fitzgerald). Now, she really has died, and because Burrus never divorced her, the medical bills she left are his burden, and the farm faces foreclosure.

Then, of course, there's the requisite bicycle-riding girl of such purity that they should melt her ass and make Ivory soap out of it (See What's Eating Gilbert Grape). Julianne Nicholson plays that girl, Ella Smalley, a veterinary student home for the summer who claims not to like Tully and his womanizing ways, but hangs around an awful lot. Nicholson and Mount form a tentative friendship that blossoms into love, even though she fakes like she doesn't understand why girls like him. Despite his load of girlfriends, Mount is in love for the first time. And the love is threatened by the potential for his family to unravel under the weight of the secrets about his mother, his brother's illegitimacy, and the farm's financial trouble.

While there's nothing here that isn't stolen in bits from other movies, Tully gets credit for not hurrying anything. The relationship between Mount and Nicholson isn't hurried and, despite some corny melodrama, I cared where they ended up. And despite getting a lot of things wrong, and having some thumpingly overdramatic plot points, the movie still captures rural life better than most.

Some of it is a bit heavy handed, and the characters occasionally just happen to be where it's most convenient for them to be. It's a low-budget movie and the director's first feature, so I guess that's why it's clunky. Still, they should have gotten somebody to check for for continuity. It helps keep an audiences focus on the story when, after cuts, the beer in front of someone is, first, still a beer and not a mixed drink, and, second, has about the same amount of fluid in it. A damaged hood on a '75 Cadillac hood is supposedly replaced with a new one that is simply the old one bondo'ed and spray painted. Come on, this is a major feature film, not my fucking Galaxie.

There's some cheesy dialog, like when Mount confesses to Nicholson "I've never been in love before," and Nicholson makes a weepy speech about a broken heart. This stuff sounds great at one a.m. at the Tavern, but at the 1 p.m. matinee it sounds sort of dorky. Anyway, despite the cornball lines, director/writer Hilary Birmingham has the good sense to let silence say a lot and keep the farm wisdon to a minimum. Plus, she doesn't hit us over the head with the meaning of the story. The best part of all is that this small town isn't filled with "colorful" characters spouting bromides and acting zany.

Nicholson is very good. She's got the lanky, freckled looks of a girl that walks by you in a park and you sit there wondering for a while whether she was cute or not. You decide she is, but it's too damn late; she's gone and probably already married or a lesbian. Although her character is written a little too pure-hearted for my tastes (it would be nice if she had a secret paorn past or something), Nicholson plays it well. Mount is all right, too, although he seems pretty convinced in his own good looks. He doesn't look so much like a farmer as a West Coast frat boy who fell into some pig shit.

Fitzgerald has a smaller role as Mount's younger brother, but the script can't really make up its mind about how old he is. By one calculation, he must be at least 20, but he's still raising a cow for 4H. That's like still being in the Boy Scout, and being really into it. He also can't tell whether he's supposed to be a limp-hand-hitting-chest retard or just a sensitive kid. Either way, at 20 he better figure it out pretty soon.

Tully is not so fucking bad, Three Fingers. It's not so fucking great either, but it sure as hell beats the crap out of watching Ben Affleck run around in leather underwear.

Want to tell Filthy Something?


Filthy's Reading
P. L. Travers - Mary Poppins

Listening to
Talking Heads- :77


After Hours

Clay Smith of Access Hollywood

The Life and Times of David Gale "Will keep your pulse racing and your heart pounding...until its suspenseful, shocking, mind-blowing conclusion!"

How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days
is "Sexy great fun!...Romantic comedies just don't get any better than this. A winner all the way!"

The Recruit is "A sexy, edge-of-your-seat thriller that will grab you and won't let go!"


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