Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2005 9:29 pm 
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Mine and Yours and Everyone's Inde Film

"A poetic observation of how people struggle to connect with one another in an isolating and contemporary world:" that's how a blurb gracelessly describes this movie.

Director July herself plays Christine, an aspiring artist of the conceptual sort -- and a lonely single woman. She becomes fascinated by a shoe salesman, Richard (John Hawkes), a father of two young boys who's just separated from his wife.

Christine's day job, though she has only one known customer, is Elder Cab, a one-person driving service for old people. The customer is a seventy-something Mexican man who's just found an old lady who's the "love of his life."

The theme plays out.

The artist tries to connect with the shoe salesman. The two boys play at online chat rooming, and the smaller of the two winds up meeting an adult in a park. The boys give their dad the silent treatment. Two sex-crazed teenage girls tease Richard's big young bachelor co-worker and later test the older boy, giving him tandem blow jobs and asking him for a rating. "They seemed just the same," he says. "I couldn't tell the difference." A little girl in the neighborhood, a bit of a snob toward Richard's "swarthy" boys (their mom is African-American), is collecting gadgets in a "Hope Chest" for her future marriage. The Mexican man's girlfriend, suspecting with reason that she will die next week, cuts off the relationship. Nobody's connecting, and some of them aren't trying.

A brilliant moment in the movie comes when Christine and Richard walk side by side away from the department store where he works toward where their separate cars are parked, and they pretend the trajectory of their walk marks the length of their possible relationship. They seem to have slid through this playful metaphor into dating, but Richard escapes. Christine comes back and gets in his car but he asks her to get out. The moment is allowed to pass and the charm, already shaky, dissolves. As too often happens nowadays, this scene came through best in the tighter editing of the trailer.

There's some amusing satire of the art gallery world and the hoops artists have to jump through to enter it. Christine's acceptance by a haughty lady gallerist on the basis of a goofy videotape monologue seems a bit far fetched. But then real life is a lot stranger and often more compelling than anything in this movie.

Christine and Richard finally do date, and Christine gets to exhibit a gallery piece that celebrates the Mexican man's late girlfriend.

Me and You and Everyone We Know is a series of vignettes. There's nothing wrong with that. It works well in Jim Jarmusch films and recently did fine in Napoleon Dynamite. The children are well cast and often droll. Richard's two glum boys are sly and appealing. Ms. July herself seems familiar, like somebody we know -- or more likely somebody we know from an inde film. But a serious weakness is that Deadwood actor Hawkes and July lack sex appeal or chemistry and their romance seems mechanical.

Perhaps some of the scenes are meant to capture a child's ballooning sense of time, but there's no energy to the pacing from the adult point of view.

In fact Me and You is ultimately a somewhat nondescript product of the inde film factory. It's neither plot driven nor character driven. The characters and their situations are never allowed to just take over and flow. It tries to survive on its quirkiness but that isn't enough because there's no passion behind it. It's too arch and self conscious. It seeks not to entertain or absorb but to be cute, and that's a quality that in the absence of cute events or cute people, eventually dries up.

The production of the movie, chronicled in an independent film magazine journal, gives a hint of its limitations: "June 2001 Chicago…I am writing a feature film!" the sequence of emails to a friend breathlessly begins. As time goes on, July's messages suggest her attention was occasionally divided between the movie project, writing a short story, and doing a performance. When the shooting starts, she's got stage fright, feels like new girl at school ("Think of me yelling Action!…..The movie is the most amazing incredible challenge of my life…").

It might have been better if this were a lot more than that. Breathlessness and pride not withstanding, Me and You may be a personal milestone but it doesn't deserve any awards.

©Chris Knipp. Blog:

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