Sunday, September 02, 2007

If I Could Get My Cash Back, I Would, But I'd Settle Instead For My Time

Ben and I watched this movie Cashback last night, which initially had a little promise, slowly became weird, and then became downright disturbing.

And let me say this about that: I am not easily disturbed. Not by movies, anyway. What disturbed me about this film was not what it was but what it pretended to be.

Briefly, this movie is supposed to be an arty/quirky indie film, a romantic - comedy? - of sorts that focuses on the an art student who had a bad breakup with his girlfriend. Early on it seems sort of gloomy, and as they're developing the breakup story there is some insanely heavy-handed orchestra music that seems like it got lost on it's way to the climax of an Oscar-nominated biopic. At this point, Ben and I are just in the "What the hell?" stage of watching. There was another sequence - I don't know what the film-techie word for it is, but it's that thing where one object (in this case, the art-kid) is moving in slow-motion and everything else is moving fast - and it's just - I'm sorry, but it was cool the first time I saw it but I just kept thinking - I LOVE movies that are creative and artful (I'm in the LOVED IT camp on The Science of Sleep) but I've seen this more than once before and at this point - you know - a great story doesn't require a lot of special effects, and all this so-called artiness was doing was just calling attention to the unoriginality of all of it.

It begins to take a turn for the more comedic when the sensitive art-student guy (who of course has a horny best friend) goes to work on the night shift at a supermarket, where we're introduced to a quirky cast of characters such as you might see on The Office - no, wait, such as you have already seen on The Office. And then the art student guy suddenly becomes taken with one of his co-workers, as indicated in the locker-room scene where he tries to help her get a bit of food off her face, which has only been done in about sixty other romantic comedies and/or sitcoms. Oh and there was one more bit that was dowright creepy - art kid finally wins supermarket girl with his debut gallery show - that's all portraits of her. Okay, in real-life, we call that stalking. My husband - my husband - has maybe drawn four or five pictures of me in as many years. This movie takes place over the course of a few weeks.

But mostly (can you believe I'm not even up to the mostly yet?), this movie got under my skin because of this: art guy talks a lot about how beauty has always meant a lot to him - beauty here being indicated by lots of lingering, slow-motion shots of perfect breasts and asses, and when I say lots, I mean - so many that it becomes offensive on multiple levels. One being that the point could have been made with, say, one or two pairs of breasts, but another being that the 'beauty' being discussed is pretty much a porn-magazine conception of beauty - round, pert boobies, flat bellies, round high, asses. I have the sense that the slow-motion was intended to make this 'artistic', but I'm not having it.

Tying this back to Showgirls, as much as I've heard that film was trying to be arty, it fails so spectacularly on that front, that the humor value is well worth it, and, more importantly, I am completely fine with a movie titled 'Showgirls' having a whole bunch of bare breasts in it. Cashback, not so much. Arty filmmaker, whoever you are, I'm sorry to harsh your mellow, I often save my negative reviews for my private life, but you lost me at beauty. Give me Russ Meyer any day.

8 comments:

carolyn said...

sounds similar to how i feel about the judd apatow films. they pretend to be for both girls & boys but really they're misogynistic boy fantasy. blech!

August said...

Bit of a shame, really. The 18-minute Oscar nominated short film it's based on was actually quite good.

megan said...

I love it when you harsh people's mellows.

Eric Spitznagel said...

Uhhh.... is this the wrong time to tell you about my upcoming exhibit of Elizabeth Crane portraits?

Betsy said...

Carolyn, I love Judd Apatow, and I've heard that argument before, but seriously, there's no comparison here. The problem is, I can't suggest you sit through this movie to prove my point, so you'll just have to take my word for it.
August, I dunno, the sense I had from the extras on the DVD was that the short film was pretty similar...
Thanks, Meg.
Eric... there's no emoticon for ironic swooning, but if there were, I'd put it here.

August said...

The short film wasn't really a comedy, or a romance, or any of that. It had only one real character, and a handful of people who served as props (although as far as actual film making technique is concerned, it's incredibly competent).

The entire film, beginning to end, takes place inside the mind of a late-adolescent boy as he tries to kill time at a mind-numbing job. It's not particularly deep, and there is quite a bit of nudity, but a lot of it is completely without erotic content, almost clinical. It's incredibly easy to buy the narrator as an art student, but it's also clear that he's still an adolescent, and that what's going on is more about getting him through the day than it is about growing as an artist.

tony fitzpatrick said...

I say : keep the art out of my tit movies-- and the tits out of my art movies!

Betsy said...

Hee! Exactly, Tony. Exactly.