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Loved this - great q & a with the actors and director after too!
Yes, Andrew Bujalski is in the film. Yes, it's shot with a hand-held naturalistic camera. Yes, it has a true-to-life acting that feels improvised. But this is not your average mumble-core movie (whatever that is). This is something altogether different.
"I just like boning my sister. What can I say. She's hot."
This is the kind of humor that permeates throughout RSO, which I saw last night at sxsw. It's so modest in it's presentation that the fact you are laughing almost feels accidental. Nobody's trying to make you laugh, it's just funny.
It's so hard to describe this type of movie. It's scrappy. It's raw. The whole thing is shot on hand-held HD. It's hard to compare this to any other film, simply because most films made on this scale simply aren't as funny as this one. Take the dialog and wit from Welcome to the Dollhouse, the quickness of Waiting for Guffman, add a pinch of Heathers, and combine the aesthetic of Funny Ha Ha with The Office, and you almost have an idea of what this film is.
Here's a scene. A group of sex offenders are all gathered in a room. To finally learn the err of their ways. To figure out how to move on with their lives. To bond. You've got Kevin Corrigan playing the group counselor. Sounds pretty heavy-- turns out to be some of the most funny material in the whole film.
But there's more to it as well. As the humor unfolds at pretty rapid pace, there's something deeper going on as well. While watching a very ordinary-on-the-surface slice-of-life portrayal of one young sex offender, there's a whole F You aspect to the movie at the same time.
Nobody would ever think to take this character, and make him the main character of a movie. He's like that dude that crashed your party last summer, drank all your beer, and refused to leave. But he's not "the bad guy who you end up loving"... you pretty much remain mildly sympathetic to his condition. And yet -F YOU- you can't tear your eyes off him. The core relationship in this movie is impossible. This nameless sex offender is with the most smoking hot way-too-young-looking-girlfriend. The girl in this movie, by the way, is destined for the cover of Maxim. But you're watching an obvious train wreck, two people who should have NEVER even met in the first place. And as you're thinking "Why is she with this jackass", -F YOU- the film makes you remember the number of girls that you wish you could have dated, but didn't, because they were with this guy. It's more truthful than it could ever be.
The film throws traditional narrative in your face. Some scenes are comprised of reality TV show like "testimonials." Some scenes it feels like the characters are aware of the presence of the camera, and are hamming it up. And other scenes, they just play out naturally (some almost voyeuristically). The film doesn't care about the rules and doesn't concern itself with trying to make you like it. But -F YOU- because of this you can't help but be sucked in by it all. And at the same time, as low budget and scrappy as this is... and how the whole movie feels somewhat "accidental" in a way... You can tell a whole lot of thought went into it. That's what separates RSO from all mumble-core movies. I've seen a few of them, and they seem interested primarily just in capturing real emotions and simply stringing them together. With RSO, despite the limitations with budget, they are taking this way further. There are real ideas behind it, and it oddly enough does force you to think about what you're watching. But more importantly, unlike all those other films, it's actually got pacing. Despite a strong narrative, the film moves quickly, keeps you laughing, and simply entertains and delivers, without making you sit through a bunch of mopey crap.
I'd really love to track down this filmmakers previous films; he's got several on his IMDb, and I'd even more like to see what he'd do with a budget. At the same time, there's something kind of awesome about how raw this film is, and the fact that I was one of the 100 people that will probably see it. It's kind of like when you hear a band you really like, you almost don't want them to get famous. It's more special and it feels like that band is making music Just For You. Well with RSO, the filmmakers made this film Just For Me.
What are the negatives? If you like polished film-making, don't go see it. If you're looking to go to a movie with your mom, don't go see it. If you think that being a sex offender is something that you're morally opposed to laughing at, DEFINITELY don't see it. But if watching some dude talking to his therapist about "face boning" his giant teddy bear, if that sounds like a good night out the movies to you.... I think it's playing a few more times at the fest and it's worth seeing. If not, I hope it'll come out-- it's definitely a cult -get-together- with-your-friends-and-watch-it-on-a-Saturday-night- kind of film.
But again, writing this review, that's just me saying "I heard them first."
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