11 November 2010

The Way We Live Now

This week on the CAB I discussed the relevant merits of Zacharius Galifianakis and his latest film Due Date. But the more interesting of his films this season is Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's It's Kind of a Funny Story.

Galifianakis does have to stretch a fair bit to inhabit Bobby, a depressed father trying to do for fellow psych ward patient Craig (a very Culkin-esque Keir Gilchrist) what he can't do for his daughter on the outside. I particularly liked the subplot in which Bobby is embarrassed to the point of rage that he doesn't have a proper shirt to wear to his group home interview.

In more important news, I have a new candidate for the coveted WTT #1 crush: Zoe Kravitz (it turns out 50% Lenny Kravitz and 50% Lisa Bonet is 100% good looking (and I checked--she's 22)). While Craig develops a more conventional relationship with Emma Roberts' Noelle and her well done facial scars, I thought his teenage obsession with Zoe Kravitz' Nia was much more realistic. Nia is dating Craig's best friend and his every interaction with them is a perfect iteration of a young man's ecstatic suffering. When Craig realizes his mental illness could be a lure for Nia their scenes are the most charged moments the film.

I wish Boden and Fleck had allowed themselves a little more wildness in It's Kind of a Funny Story--they are so careful to avoid offending any groups in the film that it lacks the bite that could have put it over the top (they also continue the trend of unnecessary animated sequences cluttering up recent films). I think back on Half Nelson and feel it was much riskier but perhaps I'm really remembering Ryan Gosling's still-rattling, once-in-a-decade performance (I'm pumped that he's finally back with Blue Valentine and All Good Things this winter). With Sugar and their latest film, the directors have shown themselves to be precise executors of compelling stories, if fundamentally conservative.

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