Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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I couldn't stand Wally--the main character. I couldn't stand Wally's friends. I couldn't stand even one other person in the film. The premise was not only just silly--but stupid stupid stupid. Supposed to be whimsical but nauseatingly lame. My guess is SPIVAK was written by someone who is considered (and I don't usually say things like this) by most people to be a loser, but who somehow believes that he is not actually a depressed laconic grubby-looking sallow jaunticed unattractive misshapen awkward unappealing miserable troll-like boiled frog but rather is simply branded a loser by others--who are clearly unintelligent superficial people--and who believes it is just a matter of time before Laker Girls and absolutely magnificently gorgeous women will discover they are captivated by him. Otherwise, how could anyone have slugged out such an at once preposterous and also dull tale about lugubrious milquetoast Wally Spivak? Part of the screenwriters/directors delusion further carries on that athletic confident gorgeous country club golf pros would find their hideous character Wally extraordinary company---start-struck-impressed that this grotesque withdrawn bummer of a nebbish is a (gasp!) writer. If this were all supposed to be a fantasy of Wally's I could understand it--but SPIVAK is passed off as supposedly plausible. Movies like this are grossly insulting--e.g., we viewers are supposed to swallow that 4 spectacular Laker Girls would spend their night off sitting on a filthy sofa in a rank, dirty, chaotic poor-people apartment twiddling their thumbs with Wally's homely unendearing misfit friends. And instead of his hooking up with the Laker Girl "assigned" to him by the Ken & Barbie couple, the chronically downcast self-pitying Wally chooses to slump in a Skid Row bar with head on his arms, with people passed out all over the fetid floor, before he ends up puking and puking in his toilet. However, lest we forget, he is so appealing not only to the Laker Girl who insists on sleeping with him even when he was so wasted and vomity he was blacked out but ALSO to a distinguished gay man who thought he was a hooker and picked him up in a park. Wally sulks, mopes, goes off by himself when the attractive fun people (who for some reason repeatedly put out Herculian effort to cheer him up and be his friend) take him on an adventure for the day and he absolutely RUINS the entire day--but all these beautiful loving people ADORE him and aren't even annoyed--and in fact not only does the Laker Girl continuously lust after him but the staggeringly beautiful blonde can't keep her hands off him because she thinks he is the most unique and amazing human being she's ever known, despite her being engaged to the golf pro. Wally rants. Wally raves. Wally screws his ugly face into contortions. Breaks his own furniture. Throws his computer out the window. And his friends just love him all the more. I have a high tolerance for quirky indy films but this is not that. It is a pile of narcissistic steaming poo. Wally bitches and moans and feels shamefully sorry for himself for being a horrible unpublished author who no one cares about. And WHY in a film made in 2018 do people have phones from 2008, and email clients on tiny laptops that announce "You've Got Mail"? There's no doubt the character Wally's work didn't get published because his writing sucked. But that doesn't explain.....how on god's green earth did this film ever get funded? (Someone must have wealthy parents.)
Popped up on Netflix. I thought mistakenly the main character on the "poster" was the actor Chris O'Dowd--who I like. I hit PLAY and was delighted to see the whole cast was wonderful. It came out in 2012 and I just saw it in Nov 2020. I don't know what I would've thought of it in 2012, but now--in the midst of this stupid pandemic as well as a contentious presidential election--I found it completely delightful. Doubtless every review of this film ever written includes the descriptor "quirky." I won't say it's quirky, but it is plainly trotted out, low-budget, indy-feeling, definitely not run of the mill in terms of plot, and I suppose it you tend to think of things in terms of being cute vs. not cute, this film is cute. Not obnoxiously so. It's definitely not precious, pretentious, smug, or self-conscious. It's nice. If you liked Marc Maron's "Sword of Trust" you may enjoy "Safety Not Guaranteed," although this film has more neo-realism/magical-realism/fantasy/rom-com elements than Sword of Trust. And east film to watch and digest.
Absolutely loved it. Among its other charms, it is such a radical departure from most depictions of the late '60s. There was a seedy pathetic cloying grubby element to the hippies of the late 1960s, and this nailed it. And how "All-American" and square a lot of the United States was. People forget that, but it was not all day-glo peace and love in the '60s--by a long shot--and Once Upon a Time captures that diametric culture clash. All in all the film is quite absorbing. Fantastic acting. I'd gotten pretty tired of Tarantino in recent years but this was an inventive, well-made, smart, enjoyable film.
Like all Noah Baumbach's films, I'm split on it. It seems like it is heartfelt and thoughtful, deep, enlightened, warm, complex, philosophical---but after viewing I feel like I've been eating potato chips rather than having a substantial nourishing meal. Clearly he's talented and not stupid. The writing is fine. He has directorial skills. But there's a superficiality and faint whiff of nihilism around him that you won't find in, say, Wes Anderson, Richard Linklater, Jim Jarmush. And while someone like Scorsese is nihilistic he (a) struggles with that and (b) is unabashed about it. Something about Noah Baumbach's posturing about being humanistic gets up my nose. His work is carefully crafted but, to me, ultimately somewhat hollow--possibly because most of his work is about himself, thinly veiled to be about humanity and the human condition but ultimately his own view of the world and humankind arising directly from his own lived experiences---passed off as insightful, but perhaps just under the surface lurks semi-smug self-preoccupation and narcissism. Rendered---but not created. He's good at what he does. tho. And performances from all the cast are outstanding.