Thursday, March 3, 2011

View from the Hill

Putty Hill (2010) - Porterfield
Tempted by the trailer and Ebert's four star rating that I actually went and bought a ticket to see it in one of the worst, smallest theaters in NYC, Cinema Village (the film's 2 week theatrical run ends there tomorrow). What disappointment!

White-trash-teens-in-the-American-heartland genre has been hi-jacked by the likes of Harmony Korine and American Apparel ads (if there was one before that) and never got a chance to prove itself worthy until the last year's Winter's Bone (in btwn, there was the promising David Gordon Green but he realized he was just bullshitting and went on to be a successful mainstream comedy director). But Korine made an indelible stain on the white wall and many impressionable young emo film students followed his footsteps to achieve that ethereal, slightly naughty, last white hope- the hidden treasures of the poor whites' culture that would very much like to be passed as 'art'.

Family and friends are gathering for the funeral of Cory, a young man who died of drug overdose. The unseen director, or the 'outsider' is heard asking questions. When did you last see Cory. Where do you live now. How long have you been away... Shot unimaginatively threadbare on HD and criminally underexposed with natural non-acting and painfully mundane conversations, Putty Hill feels completely vacuous.

The main problem for me is this: why go on all the trouble exposing the emptiness of these people's lives if you really care about them? Why show that they lead sad, boring lives? What's the point of recording this ultimately fake grief/non grief? Being non-judgmental is one thing, mistaking naturalism as profundity could be a big waste of time for moviegoers.

One guy walked out in the middle of the screening and I had a strong urge to follow him to the exit but I didn't. There, I goofed again.

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