Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

MIFF: Wristcutters: A Love Story (Goran Dukic, 2006)

My final film of the Milwaukee International Film Festival was, unfortunately, the most disappointing. Between this and 13 Tzameti, the two films I was looking forward to the most, I was sorely disappointed. (Don't feel too bad for me, though, because I saw a lot of good films at the festival.) Wristcutters is the story of Zia (played woodenly by Patrick Fugit), a young man who kills himself because his girlfriend broke up with him (I think that's why, it's strangely never really explained) who ends up in a purgatory-like existence for those who have killed themselves. He meets Eugene (a character based exactly on Eugene Hutz of Gogol Bordello, strike one), a Russian whose whole family have killed themselves, and decides to go searching for the girl he lost (Leslie Bibb, cute but underused) after he hears she's killed himself. On the way, they meet Mikal (Shannyn Sossamon, whom I love) who decides to go with them on their travels to find the people in charge, because she claims she didn't really kill herself.

Underused is one of the adjectives I'd use to describe most of the performances of the film. Sossamon is given little to do but look pretty (which she's good at, but still), Tom Waits is vitally underused even in a hammy part, and Will Arnett, hilarious as he is, is ridiculously underused as the leader of a cult in the afterworld (he doesn't even have one funny line - people were just laughing because his character is so much like Gob Bluth). The plot and characters have that "quirky" quality so popular in some independent films today, but to me, it just comes off forced and incredibly annoying. The black hole in the car? Funny the first time, not the tenth time. Kind of a beginner's Eternal Sunshine, the meditations on life and death are pathetically shallow, as if they were written by an angsty teenager. And the movie's attempt to make suicide funny? Doesn't work, for me at least - it was just really painful, although I was shocked at how many laughs this movie got in the packed theater I was in.

Perhaps I'm just a cynic, but I'm not surprised that this movie still doesn't have distribution after showing in Sundance almost a year ago. It tries so hard to be hip, but hip's not what it should be looking to be. It could have been a meditation on what's the difference between life and death, but goes for the easy way out, especially in the ridiculously predictable second half. Oy. The only things that save this from being a complete waste of time are Sossamon, Waits, and Mikal Lazarev as a beautiful Eskimo throat singer (who is mute, and probably the reason I liked her so much). I was not impressed.


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