Friday, June 05, 2009


les Larmes n'Ont pas du Lait

Joe Swanberg's second feature, sickly sweet as a liqueur, warrants many more words than what shows in this space — and at least as many as I gave to his first feature, Kissing on the Mouth [2005], written about here. The problem is that 'now' is not the time, 'here' is not the place, for any elaboration of my thoughts about LOL [2006]. It's a very good movie, underrated a lot, would connect with a wide audience. Let's leave it both at that, and at a passage I wrote in a notebook after watching the movie again a couple weeks ago. I apologize in advance if this makes no sense except to (if even then) the handful who've seen the film — but maybe others will look at it anyway (the film), as it's almost certain to entertain you better than the new Transformers thing, which'll be a hundred percent sucker-punch lemon-drop gadzooks.


Something amazing happens whereby the film seems to endorse the — via its form, by way of its relentless excerpts from these — insipid synthetic a cappella collages contributed by the characters' 'community of friends'. These segments — composed of cutaways to a miniDV + cellphone-cam + etc. patchwork — are clever and charming, make no mistake. (Okay, their accumulation eventually wears out their welcome, though this compounding coincides exactly with the gradual malignization of the Bewersdorf lead. Skip a few words ahead.) But LOL is unique in the fact that one's innate suspicions that the character Alex/Bewersdorf is a facile, vacuous prick whose 'identity' and appeal (as they were) come to be constructed only by his noodling-'artistic' pastime (cf. Kevin Pittman in Kissing on the Mouth), are confirmed full-bore in the film's second half, once the cutaways to Alex's After Effects-driven audiovisual work go away completely, and we're left to witness only the narcissism, the self-deception, and the pathos of an individual I'm (personally) tempted to label, from my own encounters in life, a total archetype. "Look at my artisticness; be spellbound." The total jagoff fraud-charlatan, finished by 42.

The 'foil' for said prick's meltdown comes in the form of net-gal "Tessa," portrayed by Kissing on the Mouth's Kate Winterich — she of the looking in the mirror and acknowledging she won't have the same body forever ambient-fame. That she performs this 'role' in the film, driving the close of the picture (all the way to the pathetic and unsentimental and honest last shot), is the 'reveal' which, on the first-viewing and up to the 50-minute mark or so, struck me as gratuitous and faux-provocative. Of course, first impressions are worthless, especially when the film's not close to over.

LOL is something to see, restitutive and all in spite of its own design, like the graveyard where our grandparents are buried.

LOL by Joe Swanberg, 2006:


Social Olympics from Craig Keller on Vimeo.


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