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May 21, 2012


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According to the website, this isn't scheduled to come to DC anytime soon, so I won't get a chance to see it for a long while I imagine. Still, I'm intrigued because it sounds like everything I'd hate in a movie and yet a lot of people are really touting it as something special.

So my question is, as far as obnoxiousness v purpose goes, how does it compare to Frownland?

Steve Macfarlane

I think it's in keeping with the current American cinema that so many esteemed New York critics have to kick up a certain proportionate dust-cloud of moral oppobrium re: a writer-director's view of the world, heroically defending the taboos to which we're all subscribers whether we like it or not, before getting to the part where the movie is actually, y'know, distinctive and unusual and interesting.

Glenn Kenny

I suspect you mistake my irritation with rid-nudging faux-tweaking of a taboo with actual moral oppobrium, but...what you will. If I can't find the all that much actual humor in pasty white dudes making black-man-penis-size jokes even from, as I said, an almost tertiary remove of intended irony, well, I'm gonna have to live with that. And I feel that I absolutely can. Enjoy your own freedom while I sink in my chains.

A.O. Scott

Just to clarify: by "make you have an aneurysm" I of course meant "inspire you to write a well-reasoned, eminently dialectical blog post." I wonder what you make (or would make) of ARP's first feature, "Impolex."

Steve Macfarlane

Aw c'mon! I'll clarify too, Glenn - my comment was less a cry for your own liberation than an extended eye-roll at the supposed licentiousness so many people seem to be publicly getting over on behalf of this movie. In form and dialogue, you'd think being confronted with these unpleasantnesses was, if not THE point, then at least one of many reasons why we go to the movies.

For one, a lot of folks seem to take it as a given that the character performed by Mr. Perry and Mr. Perry himself are the same person, some via the joke you cite - which I found less an attempt at Bringing Teh Funny than evidence of his character's utter cluelessness. It's hard to imagine, say Miranda July undergoing the same conflation (which is funny for other reasons). But when the movie does work, it works because of the precision of choices like this.

Glenn Kenny

Well then let me be a little more precise: yes, I understand the joke is meant to convey Colin's cluelessness. But the manner and context in which the joke is presented strikes me as trying to have things THREE ways, as in "Of course this isn't really ME saying this" AND "Haw haw look at what I'm getting away with." Colin's overall cluelessness seems such that underscoring it with an in-character "racist" "joke" strikes me as both opportunistic and gratuitous. My objection stands.

Steve Macfarlane

Opportunistic in terms of prematurely/emptily provoking an audience, and/or opportunistic at the expense of the African-American males? I'm intrigued by this - not sure if I agree or disagree. Perhaps wisely, it's a theme that doesn't get much play in the remainder of the film. In the meta-context, would it be easier to stomach if somebody other than the writer-director-star were saying it?

Anyway. I hope people go see it. If the packaging errs on the side of "I SURVIVED THE COLOR WHEEL", I guess that's better than nothing.

Glenn Kenny

Opportunistic in the former sense. But, you know, it didn't put the film out of the running for me obviously.

Kyle Dilla

Longtime reader, first time comment - I saw lucky? enough to see The Color Wheel at the AFI Fest here in Los Angeles last year where I also found it to be a singularly frustrating experience. Though there's no explicit evidence of talent on display here, it strikes me that Alex Ross Perry is at the very least an intelligent and clever fellow who has no idea what kind of movie he's making or why. Hearing him speak and justify the ending as "logical" doesn't pass the smell test - indeed, that he attempted to justify it at all weakens its placement (the scene itself is probably the film's best, next to the solitary shot of the partygoer inexplicably eating a burrito). Shame that the comments here are so focused on Colin's bad joke rather than the thing that truly seems to be prematurely/emptily provoking an audience - the film entire. Blah blah blah. Love the blog.

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