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June 30, 2005

))<>((

As the opening credits to Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know roll, we watch the film's main character set his own hand on fire in a tragically failed bid to attract his two sons' attention. A mood of regret, desire and disaffection is established early on and, like a friend I saw it with tonight, I was afraid at first blush that we might be in for a serious dose of Solondz-style exploitation. And that was not anything I was remotely prepared for (am I ever?).

A quick laundry list of scenes and themes from Me and You... finds a thirty-something man sexually propositioning a pair of underaged girls, said teenage girls staging a blowjob contest with the help of a male classmate (as a 10-year-old neighbor girl watches on through the window), and a 7-year-old boy regularly engaging in coprophiliac internet sex chat—all of this playing out against a potentially abject emotional backdrop where a newly-single shoe salesman father gets the silent treatment from his kids as he struggles to connect with anyone, a video artist searches for her audience while spending her days shuttling old folks to the store and back, an elderly man meets the love of his life 60 years too late only to then lose her, and an unlucky goldfish meets its own ignoble demise on an LA freeway.

Given such topics and material, one could easily imagine a work of arch misanthropy, bitterness and spite. And yet, buoyed by an uncanny sense of tact and timing, this film comes off as hilarious and astonishingly sweet at every turn, striking a consistently human tone throughout.

As refreshing as it was lovely.

And, especially given July's pedigree as a video and performance artist, it was doubly nice to see her apply the same cool restraint when it came to handling her film's own art house cleverness. A number of scenes and bits of dialogue that might appear atrociously tedious or overwrought in many other such works, come off virtually without a hitch simply because the film is so well crafted overall. (And even July's skewering of art world BS is among the better I can recall.)

Much of this can be attributed to the performances of a terrific ensemble cast (with, of course, young Brandon Ratcliff [see: 1, 2, 3, 4] stealing nearly every scene). Mostly, though, it comes down to the pace and timing set in the editing room.

The film as a whole ends as abruptly and quietly as many of its judiciously pared-down scenes do, suspending the desire for narrative continuity and explicit development in favor of a wealth of suggestion. Though it took a moment or two for the ending to register as such with me, I did find myself seriously satisfied.

Refreshing, original and surprisingly sweet—and bound to be the art house film of the season.

I have a hunch that my mom wouldn't care for it much, though.

"))<>(("
Posted by Dan at 11:50 PM

Comments

back and forth forever!

Posted by: poop on July 1, 2005 at 08:05 AM

The dead have awaken! Welcome back, Dan.

Posted by: Cinque on July 1, 2005 at 08:42 AM

Glad you're back, and with such a relevent, to-the-moment post!

Posted by: sarah on July 1, 2005 at 03:55 PM

I was afraid you were going to list yourself under Art Blogs RIP. Good to have you back.

Posted by: Franklin on July 2, 2005 at 04:13 PM

Howdy!

Bump and ditto. I will actually go see "You, me..." when it shows up here based on your recommendation. Thanks.

Posted by: Zeke on July 2, 2005 at 05:47 PM

> back and forth forever!

The same poop. Back and forth. Forever.

> Welcome back... Glad you're back... Good to have you back... Ditto...

Oh, you guys... *blush*

> ...and with such a relevent, to-the-moment post!

Yeah. How 'bout that? Better not get too used to it. Hopefully we'll be flashing back to May and then November fairly soon.

> I will actually go see "You, me..." when it shows up here based on your recommendation.

Glad to see my tremendous influence has not diminished along with my posting consistency.

Posted by: Dan on July 2, 2005 at 06:39 PM

I saw "You, Me..." last week and was also surprised and amused. One of the things that struck me was the risk taken in making this film. Self-immolation, stalking, and internet sex relations between adults and children (to name only a few subjects) were handled with the same light (and sensitive) touch as platonic love between the elderly and the quirky quests of an oddball artist. I enjoyed the film on a superficial level and also came away unsure what I'd just seen and not entirely sure what to make of it. That's an accomplishment in itelf.

Thanks, Dan...a welcome return.

Posted by: Tim on July 4, 2005 at 09:13 AM

Hooray for Dan!

Posted by: Kriston on July 5, 2005 at 10:48 AM

Hooray for ))>((!

Or, on second though, maybe not.

Posted by: Todd on July 5, 2005 at 12:13 PM

this film is poop. go see the squid and the whale.

Posted by: terrible poop on December 21, 2005 at 12:03 PM

I saw the film too, and I think you've managed to describe it in a way which fits the bill perfectly - something I couldn't quite put into words.

Still, sorry to see you got comment-spam raped.

Posted by: Jim on February 5, 2006 at 06:14 PM

> Still, sorry to see you got comment-spam raped.

The crud has been purged. Though, for the record, including the word "rape" in your comment probably doesn't help matters much. :)

Posted by: Dan on February 6, 2006 at 08:34 PM



Referenced in this post:

IMDb: Brandon Ratcliff
IMDb: Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)
IMDb: Todd Solondz
Me and You and Everyone We Know Blog: Brandon Blog #4
Me and You and Everyone We Know Blog: A post from Brandon Ratcliff
Me and You and Everyone We Know Blog: Brandon Blog #2
Me and You and Everyone We Know Blog: Brandon's Blog #3 (with an preface by Tonni, Brandon's mother.)
Miranda July
Wikipedia: Coprophilia