Saturday, April 17, 2010

See this movie.

The truth is, most of you won't. That's fine--in fact, it's probably good. 

A friend once said, "Heather's favorite movies are movies where nothing happens." It's not completely true, but it is close. I love movies where lots of internal stuff happens, while not much else does. Hence, "My Effortless Brilliance". 

I got this movie from Netflix, and the best synopsis and probably most common review came from another Netflix user (MC51658, in case you want to get legal about it):

 This movie is about a self-absorbed writer who's only friend has confronted him with the fact that he's a total jerk. This happens in the first 5 minutes and then the remainder of the film involves his attempts to prove he can indeed be a friend. He could have just apologized it would have been a 6 minute short... instead there is another hour of frolicking in the woods and meaningless dialog.

That's actually exactly what happens in the movie, and my only sticking points are that a) The dialog isn't pointless and b) it could have indeed been a short, but that would have been pointless.

There's a grand total of four people in the movie, and the dialog is entirely improvised. Those two points alone are enough to make me fall in love with the movie, but here's the really great things about it.

  • The dialog, being improvised, is so banal it sounds like everyone I know. And at times, it made me really frustrated. In a scene where the writer is being interviewed, the interviewer says the word "Yay" something like eight times ("Oh, you will? Ok, yay. Yeah, good. Yay."). This made me want to pull my own hair out, but I also know for a fact that I and many of my friends overuse the word. Do we think we're ten?

  • The writer (Sean Nelson) has hair inspired by "Eraserhead". See? 

(For the record, I have never seen "Eraserhead". The only David Lynch movie I have ever seen is "The Straight Story", because it was the only David Lynch movie I was sure wouldn't terrify me.)

  • The writer's friend is played by a guy named Basil Harris, who apparently hasn't made any other movies I've ever heard of. This is really too bad, because not only is he really good, he's also ADORABLE. The other sad thing about him not being in anything of note (IMDB,com tells me he's been in nine movies or tv shows, but...) is that it's nearly impossible to find a picture of him. And he's cute. In the movie, he lives way out in the middle of the woods in eastern Washington, and wears plaid, and has a beard, and chops wood, and it's almost exactly like my dream vacation with Brian Williams.
Here's the thing about guys with beards. If I meet someone who's cleanshaven, and he wants to grow a beard, great. Go do it. But if my first encounter with someone includes their facial hair, and then when I see them next the beard is gone, I feel like I'm seeing them naked. I want to hand them a tiny shirt to cover their chin and tell them to have some self respect. 

That's what trying to find a picture of Basil Harris was like. He needs the beard. Otherwise, he's this kind of gawky-looking redhead. The best I can do for you all is the movie poster:

The rest you'll have to imagine. But the image above does capture the movie well--it's two friends trying, to little success, to reclaim the friendship they had, and I think it's excellent. If the movie were about two women, chances are both would cry, and hug, and confess that each of them had been awful and that they loved each other so much, once they had confessed that each thought the other was a bitch. But, thankfully, men don't tend to work that way. 

See this movie, please. It's slow, it's quiet, and the characters will almost certainly annoy you at some point. But you might love it. 


  1. Sounds interesting. So what did you think of waking life?

  2. "Waking Life", huh? It's been a few years since I have seen it, but honestly, I thought it was a lot of pseudo-substance in the name of style...I should probably check it out again sometime.

    "MEB" is almost the opposite... it avoids being stylistic, almost to a fault. Some might not see substance there, but I would disagree. If there's any style, it's indie, but not quite as self-referentially as a lot of so-called indies have been lately.

    OK. I'm done. :)

  3. Thanks for the recommendation - sounds like something I'd like, especially knowing that the dialogue is an improviser, this makes me happy :) Plus, as you picked up on - so often, good improv can create truthful characters and relationships in a very compelling way. Just added it to my Netflix queue!

    (And, I loved Waking Life, but agree with your assessment... I just gave myself over to the feeling of it, and liked what it was trying to do...)