Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Three Little Indies

Over the weekend, as I was laid up writhing in pain, I watched a few films -- one that I had never seen and two that I've seen on so many occasions I can almost recite. (Please note, this isn't going to be a film review -- they are just three movies that I like and I think I relate to in some pathetic and tragic ways).

The first was Chi Girl which I was happy to finally catch. It isn't a typical mockumentary because the "documentary" within the film becomes a character of its own (if that makes sense). The character that it is based around, Heather, is a bit of a dysfunctional mess. I was so reminded of myself in her obsessive-compulsive behavior of checking her watch every 10 minutes and phoning home to pick up her non-existent voice mail (uh, yea, I do that too). The "narrator" character Randy is what I find the most interesting. The way he is simultaneously repelled and attracted to Heather (I find myself being attracted to the most dysfunctional of people and it seems the more of a mess they are, the more attracted I am). Both Heather and Randy have the same stalker qualities and become quite obsessed about non-existent relationships. While it doesn't sound very romantic, I found it to be a very romantic film (at least what qualifies as so in my universe).

So after feeling completely, yet oddly romanticized by Chi Girl I decided to break out two other films that I also relate to on a "girly" level. First is Welcome to the Dollhouse which tells the story of a bullied pre-teen girl in suburbia. Dawn is homely, not popular, emotionally abused by family and sexually harassed by a local boy. Every time I watch this film I feel a great deal of discomfort yet I want to watch how Dawn deals with these situations. She seems very superficial on some levels but you know that her character is built from adversity and that generally makes for a more thinking and interesting person in the end. The banality of suburban living is so aptly portrayed, you feel as if this could have been the home of a family that you visited sometime in your youth.

The last film I watched was Ghost World which I adore even though it is fairly simplistic as a tale of someone who feels like an outsider. I can't help but see a parallel in Enid's strange relationship with Seymour with a relationship I once had (oh, I'm not going to reveal here, heh). I also identify with the way she pushes folks away and then feels slighted when they don't call or concern themselves with her. On another basic level, the whole "becoming yourself" and identity building is so important at that age. Lastly, the whole "truth is stranger than fiction" element is showcased very well (i.e. the crassness of every day living in consumer-oriented America). Like Chi Girl, the main character disappears in the end which is a fantasy I think we all share at some point in our lives (the idea of picking up and leaving and starting new somewhere else, sigh).

Chi Girl (1999; written, directed and 'starred' Heidi Van Lier)
Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995; written and directed by Todd Solondz)
Ghost World (2000; written by and based on comic book by Daniel Clowes; directed by Terry Zwigoff)

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