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The Puffy Funny Dance Party on the Stairs, Ha Ha, LOL

January 23, 2010

I’m writing about movies a lot lately because I’m trying to slog my way through my Netflix queue. I finished most of the TV episodes that were on my Watch It Now queue, so now I’m forced to watch movies on Roku while I wait for the DVDs of Season 4 of “How I Met Your Mother” to come in the mail. The bar for adding something to the Watch It Now queue is lower than for the regular DVD queue. Because something is there at your fingertips and you don’t have to sacrifice days waiting for the mail, many things that I wouldn’t get the DVDs for make it onto the Watch It Now list. It’s a lower level of commitment overall, because I’m more than happy to turn things off midway through when it’s Watch It Now. There’s always something else on the list that’s a better way to spend my time.

Tonight I’ve turned off two movies in a row. The first was “Evita”. I have no idea why I added this to my queue. I despise most musicals. Especially modern ones. I got about 20 minutes in before I decided that this wasn’t worth two hours of my life. Next, I put on “The Puffy Chair”. I should have done my research, and if I had, I would have never added it to my queue.

I suspected it during the opening scene, but wasn’t quite sure. Not until a few minutes more into the movie, in an awkward yet earnest scene with the three main characters, did I realize. I should have known from the budget production values, the improv-ish yet stilted acting, the pure douchiness of the main character…I was watching mumblecore.

No, no, no, no! No more! I turned off the movie with 40 minutes to go, just over halfway through. I’d already fast forwarded through several drawn out scenes. I’d rather watch a modern musical. Wikipedia says mumblecore is “primarily characterized by ultra-low budget production (often employing digital video cameras), focus on personal relationships between twenty-somethings, improvised scripts, and non-professional actors.” I say that this is self-indulgent, poorly written, badly acted, pointless cinema. I tried to watch “Funny Ha Ha” and turned it off. The premise of “LOL” was promising, but the execution was painful. I managed to get through it, but I lived to regret it. Immediately afterwards I took “Hannah Takes the Stairs” (same director) off my DVD queue. No more for me. The main characters in these movies are almost always douchebags, and the cinema verité style makes watching their arguments with each other as awkward as being at a friend’s house while their parents fight. No thank you.

The amazing part to me is that these movies are often critically acclaimed. I’m no film geek, but I do believe that I have more discriminating tastes than the average American–I would never be caught dead watching the Transformer movies and, as I’ve said before, I despise most of the romcoms that are shoved down women’s throats. In the past year I’ve watched many of the classics and learned that they are classics for a reason–they’re really excellent movies. So it amazes me that people whose tastes I can usually identify with (except for “The English Patient”–that movie was boooring, and “Avatar”–no interest in that one) so adore this genre. “The Puffy Chair” got two thumbs up from Ebert & Roeper. How? They seem to like the realism and awkwardness.

Maybe I don’t like these movies for the same reason I don’t like playing The Sims. I get up, have to go to the store and work and make dinner in real life; I don’t see the point of having to play a video game to do the exact same thing. I’m a Gen X/Yer who has relationships and conversations with douchey people in real life–I don’t need to see that in a movie.

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