Kicking & Screaming

(1995) dir. Noah Baumbach
viewed: 10/21/06

I rented this rather exemplary 1990’s indie flick because I had gained some interest in director/writer Noah Baumbach after seeing The Squid and the Whale (2005) which he wrote and directer and then re-viewing The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) which he co-wrote with director Wes Anderson.  I guess, like Anderson’s Bottle Rocket (1996), this was one of that spate of indie films that hit the market after the Quentin Tarantino thing happened.  There were so many of these small, personal films, some of which were better than others, that this was one that I just never got around to seeing.

It’s not half-bad, really.  The subject matter is a little annoying and very “just got out of film-school” in that it’s a year in the life of some college/high school buddies who graduate but fail to move on and end up living out their first post-grad year just hanging around the same places and people that they hung around with before, but with a lot less reason.

There are some very funny parts to it and some of the characters are better than others.  It has some low-budget charm, but the characters all feel very much like that: characters.  And the actors are just spouting amusing dialogue without any real feeling that any of this is anything more than a movie that everyone is playing in.  I think it aspires to more.

I would like to say that Olivia D’abo actually transcends this a bit.  She’s “the girl” that fascinates and drives the protagonist (assumingly the writer/director’s filmic “self”).  But somehow, and I think it’s mostly in her drunken scene toward the end of the film, she sort of feels more real than the others.

That stuff aside, it’s actually a pretty clever film and though the dialgoue has some pretentious qualities, it’s also often funny.  The structural set-up with the flashbacks somehow elevates the film at the end, interestingly ending on a different note by stepping back and showing something hopeful, but no longer real.  It’s not a bad film and might be interesting in some 1990’s retrospective of indie “little” films that came out in that period.  I can easily imagine such a retrospective.

And last comment: Scary as hell how this film is 11 years old and feels like it.  Were the 1990’s really that long ago?

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