Short Takes

I’m starting to settle into the new semester, so hopefully blogging will pick up soon. I’ve almost completely fallen out of the habit of blogging at MediaCommons and Newcritics, something I’m hoping to change soon, but for now I just wanted to mention, however briefly, a couple of films I’ve seen recently.

First, I caught the Steve Buscemi-Sienna Miller drama, Interview, last night. Buscemi and Miller play a jaded journalist and an apparently vacuous starlet, with Buscemi’s character, Pierre, assigned to interview Katya. The film is a remake of a film by Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, which Van Gogh himself planned to remake with Buscemi and Miller before he was assassinated. Buscemi stepped in to direct, and the result is a serviceable, if unspectacular, movie not unlike Richard Linklater’s Tape, in which two characters bicker, argue, reveal truths about themselves, etc. While Roger Ebert seemed to appreciate the characters and performances, which were certainly adequate, I found what he called the film’s “O. Henry ending” a little too distracting. I’m also not that convinced that the film was saying anything terribly interesting about the concept of celebrity and performance that it seemed to be trying to deconstruct.

I’ve also been planning to mention Don Diego Ramirez’s autobiographical documentary, Trailer Trash: A Film Journal after I got a chance to watch a screener copy a few days ago. I initially expressed interest in the film because of its use of Super 8 and home movies, but the film is less about home movies as a storytelling medium and much more about the Ramirez family’s experiences in dealing with the death of Ramirez’s grandmother and the murder of his grandfather, which took place a few days later.  At the same time, Ramirez and his wife become new parents for the first time.  There is a strong narrative voice in the short (58 min) feature, but I’m not quite as convinced that the film had an overarching perspective on the issues the family faced.  At the beginning of the film, Ramirez expresses his frustration with the term “trailer trash” that had been used to describe members of his family, and at various points, he refers to the ways in which making the movie allows him to make sense of his experiences, but these points seem to have been subsumed under the (admittedly very powerful) story itself.  I do think that Trailer Trash deserves a wider audience and I hope that Ramirez gets the opportunity to develop his voice as a filmmaker because there was a lot of interesting material here.

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