Stay the Same Never Change (2009) - Nakadate
Having missed its New Directors/New Films appearance last year and a couple of traveling screenings this Spring, I was very excited to hear that Museum of Modern Art acquired photographer/visual artist Laurel Nakadate's feature Stay the Same Never Change. So I saddled up and went up to MoMA to see the film on a sunny afternoon for what could be the last chance to catch it on a big screen.
This plotless, episodic film featuring young girls in Kansas City could be best described as feature length American Apparel commercial or teen porn without sex. Girls in short shorts are lounging around in their houses, wandering out on empty streets inarticulately describing their lives. The mood is ominous and harmless at the same time. It's not completely insulting to male viewers in a jailbaiting kind of way since there are some truly beautiful shots and funny moments. It's a Harmony Korine movie in mini-scale, put together very amateurishly.
One girl is in the habit of calling random numbers from an open phone book and warning/consoling the unsuspecting persons on the other line about tornadoes. Another girl talks to her teddy bear as if it is a boy she likes in school while wearing a dress she bought for her wedding night. She then swims in the river in her bikinis and asks two hunky fellow swimmers to drawn her. Another one is sitting in the woods surrounded by men(some shirtless) who just left their wives and girlfriends behind. Then there is a girl who makes a full figured male doll which resembles Fabio and takes it to a drive in movie(I think the movie they are watching is Evan Almighty).
I understand what Nakadate is going for. These are girls in the heart of America, always flirting with danger, helpless and most of all lonely and their diet consists of froot loops. Stay the Same silly, beautiful selves, being objectified by men and Never Change. The thing is, there is already far better, mature version of the film out on the same subject, Virgin Suicides by Sofia Coppola.
Is it really a work of art? It deserves to be archived into MoMA database? I'm no art critic but if one suggestive image from American Apparel campaign achieved the same thing as this, why aren't they acquiring Richard Kern photos? Or have they done so already? Disappointing.