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MGM Studios DVD presents
"I am prepared for amazing things to happen."
DVD ReviewLife is all about making connections with other people, or at least that's how some people view it. Miranda July presumably feels that way, based on her debut feature Me and You and Everyone We Know. That she makes her point in a rather fantastical way will either really grate or come off as charming, but there's no question it's a unique film.
The central couple in the film is Christine (July), a struggling video artist (like July in real life) whose day gig is driving around senior citizens. She meets Richard (John Hawkes), a shoe salesman newly separated from his wife and struggling with his two sons, teen Peter (Miles Thompson) and the other six year old Robbie (Brandon Ratcliff). Also tied up in the story are Richard's co-worker Andrew (Brad William Henke), who strikes up an unusual relationship with Heather (Natasha Slayton) and Rebecca (Najarra Townsend), two classmates of Peter, the director of the art gallery Christine is trying to get work exhibited in, and Sylvie, a tween (Carlie Westerman) obsessed with buying the gear she will need in her future marriage.
The interlocking stories are hit and miss, even within the individual stories themselves; Richard and Christine's initial meeting comes off fairly corny, with Richard spouting serious platitudes about how no one deserves uncomfortable shoes, which is followed up by an amusing scene in which the pair walk to their cars, using the street as a metaphorical roadmap of their imaginary future relationship. Sophie's story elicited little reaction from me, and the character seemed shoehorned in to present another example of someone yearning for a connection.
Some will be put off by the sexual elements of the story, which take a forward role in most of the subplots. Andrew (Brad William Henke), following his chat with Heather and Rebecca, takes to taping up posterboard with lewd messages in his window outside their bus stop, describing what he would do to them (since telling them vocally would be wrong/illegal). The girls, scared and excited by this, decide to practice one of the acts he tells them they would perform on him with Peter, who looks stoned through most of it (he seems stoned through most of the film, to be honest). Then there's Robbie, who, taking the lead from Peter, engages in online sex chat with an unknown person, who then arranges a meeting with him. Robbie turns this person on by coming up with the following message: ))><(( This would indicate his own idea of connection, namely people crapping the same feces back and forth into each other, forever. Yes, really. The eventual meeting between these two online "paramours" turns out to be fairly depressing, though it does gain Robbie a small, uncredited moment in the art world.
Depending on your viewpoint, you may find the above rather irresponsible, amusing, or repulsive, but given the overall nature of the film, it's never threatening, and nobody crosses any serious lines, at least in terms of consequences. The only actual sex takes place between the teens, and this was the only sexual aspect of the film that rang true to me at all in that regard. The series of porno messages posted by Andrew is simply dumb however you want to slice it; no one is going to post that sort of thing in their window and not get called out on it by someone, if not the police. The movie veers back and forth from these impossible moments to more truthful ones, and it can be a bit exasperating. In the end, I found myself generally fascinated by the film, but also put off by it as well. It does leave me curious to see where July goes next.
Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-
Image Transfer Review: Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1, this generally looks fine, though I did notice some pixel noise in solid backgrounds a couple times. Otherwise, it's a solid transfer with good color and contrast.
Image Transfer Grade: B+
Audio Transfer Review: A Dolby 5.1 surround track is the only option, and it's perfectly fine. I didn't hear any distortion or other faults, though the rear speakers weren't overly used.
Audio Transfer Grade: A-
Disc ExtrasFull Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
8 Other Trailer(s) featuring Rock School, Turtles Can Fly, Saving Face, Yes, Saraband, Heights, 3-Iron, Beautiful Country
6 Deleted Scenes
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Extras Review: July was distressed to be left out of the production of this DVD and was especially appalled at the inclusion of the main extra here, which consists of six deleted scenes (07m:31s). I can't say I understand that reaction, as the scenes aren't anything special, and didn't affect my feelings toward the film. But, they are there for those interested.
Extras Grade: C-
Final CommentsI suppose your reaction to this film will depend on your tolerance level for indie-film style and dialogue. I found it weirdly compelling, despite some fairly ridiculous situations, and look forward to seeing what July comes up with next. The DVD is fine, with some deleted scenes thrown in to accompany a solid transfer.
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