Baffled by Bellflower

I will admit to being somewhat baffled by Evan Glodell's Bellflower (2011) and that this bafflement is probably a function of being twice the age of anyone on screen or behind the camera.  Let me add: I think that's great. It's about time a cinema emerged that tells me and my kind to get bent, or if not that, at least refuses to explain its twenty-centric worldview to those now so addled by middle-aged nostalgia as to have forgotten how much it sucks to be 25.

Bellflower (2011) is precisely the kind of movie that cinephiles constantly complain does not yet exist. For years now we've been promised that as camera, sound, and editing technologies got cheaper, and as production and distribution expanded beyond the usual corporate players, there would one day be an explosion of idiosyncratic, bare-bones, D.I.Y. filmmaking, a world where any group of yahoos, artistes, rednecks, girl scouts, or mental patients could come together and make their own feature film. We are told this film was shot in and around Ventura for about $17,000 by a collective who go by the handle "Coatwolf" productions.  If true, Bellflower takes the limbo bar down yet another notch in the indie bang-for-the-buck competition. I suppose this is the impulse behind all the Kickstarter emails I get now.  If so, fantastic--I would love to see a system of patronage replace whatever economy explains the current glut of utterly forgettable films coming out the industry's front door. A spectacular failure is always more interesting than the sleepwalk of competence, so more kicking and starting would be a good thing.

Glodell: human being or industry simulation?
If nothing else, Bellflower should inspire young procrastinators around the world to get off their collective butts and make a movie. The film isn't perfect, but it is so good that it makes me suspicious that it was really shot for $17,000.  I'm not making any criminal accusations, but it's hard to imagine how this production could budget at the price of a Prius without someone doing some creative borrowing, boosting, or outright shoplifting of something--film stock, car parts, day-old Cinnabons, something.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Bellflower was actually made for twenty million by New Line and then given this ridiculous "Coatwolf" back story to make cine-dopes like me get all teary-eyed for the resurgence of authentic authenticity.

Related to this, I'm also suspicious as to whether "Evan Glodell" really exists.  Writing and directing a feature is tough work, but when you add the immense effort of being and remaining photogenically handsome enough to play the main lead, film-goers have every right to remain dubious. Add to this the fact that Glodell also served as the film's cinematographer using a wonky, one-of-a-kind hybrid camera that he personally assembled from spare parts, and you really begin to feel like the Blair Witch hype team was brought in here to fabricate an indie Paul Bunyan.  All we need to complete the legend is a story of Glodell illegally projecting the finished film onto the water tower at Warner Brothers in order to get a distribution deal.

My Exclusive Pictures of the "People" Magazine in My Dentist's Office with the Exclusive Pictures of Snooki and Her Baby

Belated Thoughts on Themed Dining in Todd Solondz's "Life During Wartime"

You never know when America's fast-food and casual dining industries will be invoked as an emblem of all that is horrible about American life.  Somewhere out there in that part of the world that is not America, I hear protesters recently signaled their disgust with that Koptic Khristian Komedy classic, Innocence of the Muslims (2012?), by torching a KFC--thus proving that Bush was right, they do hate us for our "freedom," the freedom to ingest that deep-fried chicken double-dare known as the "double down," a cruel joke of poultry compression no doubt devised with great hilarity by two of the Colonel's marketing suits as they were jogging one morning in an effort to keep their own HDL counts under 100.

Fine American dining also showed up recently in Life During Wartime (2009), the IFC produced film written and directed by Todd Solondz and marketed as a sequel of sorts to Solondz's era-defining classic Happiness (1998).   As with most of Solondz's films, there is little room in Wartime for ambivalence--you either love it or hate it, a passion evoked less by the film's style and story than by the viewer's fundamental disposition toward life, and maybe even more specifically, toward American life.  Even those who admire Solondz's films, myself included, have never really thought of him much as a "stylist."  His films are usually like essays, interested in ideas and tone more than fancy cinematography or obtuse plot construction. Palindromes (2004), with its fluctuating actor-character relations, was the closest Solondz has come to out and out "look at me!" auteurism, and while there are many interesting aspects to that film, I've always thought his work is most powerful when rendered in the blank, detached irony that he helped pioneer in the sm/art cinema of the 90s.

I Love My Switchblade

Man oh man, do I ever love my switchblade. It's boss, man, real cherry, and I take it everywhere I go--Pop's Garage...the malt shop...down to the passion pit.  I take it everywhere I go and no one messes with me cuz they know I'll cut 'em.  They know I'll do it cuz they've seen me do it.  Yeah, I've cut my share of goofs and greasers. Just try frosting me and you'll find out too, real good.

Oh man, I wish Daddy-O here would make a move and razz my berries so I could stab him right in the throat. That would be swell, the tops!  You dig, Clyde? I'm aching to stab you right in the throat.  Vic will try to stop me.  He says I go ape way too easy.  But man, I just love stabbing so much.  Stab! Stab! Stab!