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Thursday, July 7, 2005

Apologies to Comrade Mudede

Posted by on July 7 at 7:29 AM

But I just want to say that I finally saw Me and You and Everyone We Know, and so should everyone else, obviously. (Of course, if you want to wait until you’ve seen Police Beat first, that would be all right, too.) Of all the film’s great virtues, its sense of humor, its gentle-but-not-exactly-warm visual texture, and its dreamy frankness about childhood, the very best is the sense of fruition it confers on the NW-international girl-punk artistic underground that MJ arose from. I’m not talking about legitimacy; the Portland-Olympia-Seattle index has been far better than legit for a lot longer than most of the world has been aware of it. But other than rock bands (Bikini Kill first, Sleater-Kinney best, and maybe, to a certain extent, Nirvana), this scene has almost never been on the world stage, except in the theoretical lip-servicey world of critics (again, mainly rock-based). This film, by simple virtue of the fact that it’s a film, to say nothing of a Cannes Camera D’Or-sharing debut by an already-notable highbrow gallery/museum artist, is a massive breakthrough (gratuitous designer denim butt shots and all), because cinema is the most meaningful artform, period. Everything else is a boutique.

That this boutique film's subject matter so explicitly reflects the spirit of this feminist undergroundfrom the meta-work made by the aspiring artist character played by July to the beautiful closing image of the world's cutest kid making the sun rise in the sky by tapping a quarter against a bus stop poleis even more important. The film honors 25 years of creative energy, progress, and (I wish there were a better word, though the irony is pleasing) husbandry. Like her first major project, Big Miss Moviola (which Lois Maffeo wrote about in a Stranger film supplement I edited in 1996), the underlying promise made to young girls by the scene Miranda July comes from is that everything you do could be art. That attitude has engendered a great deal of hostility, derision, and straight-up contempt over the years because sometimes it isn't true. And it isn't. Not everyone is an artist. Not anyone can do it. It's nice to see a movie with power, wit, and brains enough to remind you what it's like when someone can.

The only question that remainswith further respect and apology to brother Mudede)is: who's cuter, Brandon Ratcliff (the kid who plays Robbie), or the fluffy little hatchlings in March of the Penguins?