On Sunday night, bored out of my mind, I perused the movie reviews, and despite this paper’s tepid write up, I went and saw the 9 pm show of Mutual Appreciation at NWFF.
I went back again last night. Because. It’s great.
I dragged Stranger film editor Annie Wagner along with because she’s a brain about movies, and I wanted to see what she thought about it. I was having trouble figuring out why I liked it so damn much. Annie liked it too and offered this fitting capsule: “You’re at the rock show.”
Yes, you are! (There’s a rock club scene in the movie that tops the famous Yardbirds scene in Blow Up or even the great Crime and the City Solution performance in Wim Wenders’s Wings of Desire.)
And more important: You’re on the couch, in the kitchen, in the car, on the phone, at strange parties, in the rumpled beds, and alone with the characters at all times. And mostly, in their faltering, hopeful, 5-D conversations.
Mutual Appreciation is a low-fi, DIY movie: black and white, 16mm, and obviously shot on location in a bunch of Brooklyn kids’ apartments, at their jobs, and favorite bars. It “stars” an ensemble of the filmmaker’s pals and the filmmaker, Andrew Bujalski, himself. Bujalski’s previous movieI haven’t seen itwas apparently a similarly low-fi movie called Funny Ha Ha.
Thanks to the (improv?) real-time, realistic dialogue, the movie is winning comparisons to Cassavetes films. (I’d say it’s Cassavetes shot through a PlaySkool Pixelvision!)
This might all sound a bit pretentious, but it’s not a pretentious movie at all. And really, unlike Cassavetes, the movie doesn’t try to hype its ambiguity with a sullen or pensive mood. It’s kind of buoyant, actually. And rather than trying to turn the minimalist conversations into meaningful contemporary poems, the script is elevated instead through the idealism that peeks through these kids’ slow-motion poses.
This is particularly the case for the lead girl characterEllie, who’s caught up in a floating-in-limbo flirtation with her boyfriend’s longtime best friend, Alan. Ellie’s persistent attempts to bring clarity to the whole situation by pushing it, rejecting it, and eventually trying to make sense out of her relationship with her kind (on paper, anyway) beau, are undermined by the other characters’ languid and charming defense mechanisms.
Her moves are also tangled up in the litter of entertaining, oddball subplots. The non-theater-theater project being awkwardly organized by a mysterious woman named Patricia, for example, starts out as a hilarious bit that ultimately finds its way into the sad confrontation between Ellie and her boyfriend.
Anyway, 3 Cheers to NWFF for bringing this indie gem to Seattle. Everyone should see it. I’m going again. It’s playingshows at 7pm and 9pmthru Thursday night.