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Thread: Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)

  1. #1
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    Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)

    Director: Miranda July
    Cast: Miranda July, John Hawkes

    The official website is here
    http://www.meandyoumovie.com/

    At the Cannes Film Festival 2005, the movie garnered the Caméra d'Or
    see
    http://www.festival-cannes.fr/palmar...&categorie=cor

    At the Sundance Film Festival 2005, it also garnered the Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision
    see
    http://festival.sundance.org/2005/docs/05Awards.pdf


    What I like ...
    -- A very philosophical movie about people who seek to connect with others in the oddest (or is it the most "common?!") way. Hence, the movie is peppered with tons of rather cryptic or philosophical lines, about life, love, relationship, etc. Frankly, I would think a second view is often necessary to remember these lines ... Hmmm ... maybe someone can do a compilation ... ha ha ha
    ;)
    -- The movie also challenges societal stereotypes, preconceived perception, anxiety, etc. (simply by evoking similar thoughts in the audience). In a way, it has a few daring depiction of disturbing scenes. And yet, it seems to hint that it may not be as bad as what you think ...
    -- On a lighter note, it also pokes fun (and yet, celebrates) contemporary art! hee hee


    What I thought could be better ...
    -- Although the movie may seem to suggest that these people/events/relationships are all around us, and I do believe that they are indeed very common (or are they not?!), I somehow sense that many audience would walk away from the movie thinking: these characters are indeed weird. Instead of convincing the audience that these situations are pretty prevalent, it comes across as disturbingly distributed. Some may even lament that it is pretty manipulative/contrived by bringing together only odd characters to tell a story.
    -- Despite the common theme of "human connection and relation", the movie still comes across as a composition of several slightly disjointed short stories as opposed to a unified story.


    Conclusion:
    Overall, I actually recommend watching this movie!
    ;)
    In particular, I like the movie for its thought provoking messages, although I feel that it could be better
    -- by being less manipulative/contrived, or
    -- by making the various roles/scenes appear more "normal" (and yet, on a deeper thought, quite abnormal).
    Last edited by hengcs; 07-09-2005 at 09:04 PM.

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    Hi pmw,
    Sorry to inform you.
    But I have just noticed that the title on the main page is slightly erroneous.

    It should be "Me and You and Everyone We Know"
    i.e., the "and" between "Me" and "You" is missing.
    ;)

  3. #3
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    Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005)

    Mine and Yours and Everyone's Inde Film

    Review by Chris Knipp

    "A poetic observation of how people struggle to connect with one another in an isolating and contemporary world": that's how the blurb describes this movie.

    July herself plays Christine, an aspiring artist of the conceptual sort -- and a lonely single woman. She becomes fascinated by a shoe salesman, Richard (John Hawkes), a father of two young boys who's just separated from his wife.

    Christine's day job, though she has only one known customer, is Elder Cab, a one-person driving service for old people. The customer is a seventy-something Mexican man who's just found an old lady who's the "love of his life."

    The theme plays out.

    The artist tries to connect with the shoe salesman. The two boys play at online chat rooming, and the smaller of the two winds up meeting an adult in a park. The boys give their dad the silent treatment. Two sex-crazed teenage girls tease Richard's big young bachelor co-worker and later test the older boy, giving him tandem blow jobs and asking him for a rating. "They seemed just the same," he says. "I couldn't tell the difference." A little girl in the neighborhood, a bit of a snob toward Richard's "swarthy" boys (their mom is African-American), is collecting gadgets in a "Hope Chest" for her future marriage. The Mexican man's girlfriend, suspecting with reason that she will die next week, cuts off the relationship. Nobody's connecting, and some of them aren't trying.

    A brilliant moment in the movie comes when Christine and Richard walk side by side away from the department store where he works toward where their separate cars are parked, and they pretend the trajectory of their walk marks the length of their possible relationship. They seem to have slid through this playful metaphor into dating, but Richard escapes. Christine comes back and gets in his car but he asks her to get out. The moment is allowed to pass and the charm, already shaky, dissolves. As too often happens nowadays, this scene came through best in the tighter editing of the trailer.

    There's some amusing satire of the art gallery world and the hoops artists have to go through to enter it. Christine's acceptance by a haughty lady gallerist on the basis of a goofy videotape monologue seems a bit far fetched. But then real life is a lot stranger and often more compelling than anything in this movie.

    Christine and Richard finally do date, and Christine gets to exhibit a gallery piece that celebrates the Mexican man's late girlfriend.

    Me and You and Everyone We Know is a series of vignettes. There's nothing wrong with that. It works well in Jim Jarmusch films and recently did fine in Napoleon Dynamite. The children are well cast and often droll. Richard's two glum boys are sly and appealing. Ms. July herself seems familiar, like somebody we know -- or more likely somebody we know from an inde film. But a serious weakness is that Deadwood actor Hawkes and July lack sex appeal or chemistry and their romance seems mechanical.

    Perhaps some of the scenes are meant to capture a child's ballooning sense of time, but there's no energy to the pacing from the adult point of view.

    In fact Me and You is ultimately a somewhat nondescript product of the inde film factory. It's neither plot driven nor character driven. The characters and their situations are never allowed to just take over and flow. It tries to survive on its quirkiness but that isn't enough because there's no passion behind it. It's too arch and self conscious. It seeks not to entertain or absorb but to be cute, and that's a quality that in the absence of cute events or cute people, eventually dries up.

    The production of the movie, chronicled in an independent film magazine journal, gives a hint of its limitations: "June 2001 Chicago…I am writing a feature film!" the sequence of emails to a friend breathlessly begins. As time goes on, July's messages suggest her attention was occasionally divided between the movie project, writing a short story, and doing a performance. When the shooting starts, she's got stage fright, feels like new girl at school ("Think of me yelling Action!…..The movie is the most amazing incredible challenge of my life…").

    It might have been better if this were a lot more than that. Breathlessness and pride not withstanding, Me and You may be a personal milestone but it doesn't deserve any awards.

    Posted on Chris Knipp website.

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    I liked Me and You and Everyone We Know a lot, primarily because I found Miranda July's insights and observations exceedingly personal, a distillation of a unique and idiosyncratic way of looking at the world. I was particularly moved by Richard's bewilderement when faced with family breakup, his anxiety about remaining a vital presence in his boys' life post-separation, and his reticence about initiating a new relationship before the wounds from the previous one have healed. I empathized instantly with Christine's efforts to exhibit her art and defeat loneliness. I found her unabashedly pro-active maneuvers to get what she needs thoroughly endearing.
    The characters who are minors appear mostly preoccupied directly or indirectly with sexual coming-of-age issues, with trying to make sense of it somehow. The scenes involving two high school girls seemed specially well-observed, although Me and You strikes a single false note when a bachelor posts erotic messages to the girls on his window, where any passerby would see them. Then again, my favorite scene in the movie involves a kid and a grown-up meeting at the park, a rendezvous made possible by an anonymous sex-chatroom encounter. It's to July's credit that she has the courage to deal with this type of material and the vision and skill to make it work.

    *Chris, I think our almost oppositional reactions to Me and You and Everyone We Know can perhaps be encapsulated by your finding "no passion behind it", and "no chemistry" between Hawkes and July. I had a completely different reaction.

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    Needless to say I don't agree with your apparent high rating. Granted that the plot elements you mention in your argument -- the separation, the responsibility of remaining a strong presence with one's children in the face of a shattered marriage, the difficulty of forming a new relationship -- are all important issues in a life; and just as you say, child or teenage sexuality are tough issues to bring up that some might shirk but that deserve treatment. But that doesn't make the way these things are handled in Me and You particularly compelling, or their organization coherent, since expository "insights and obsevations" that are overly spelled out, unintegrated into a unified and compelling action, don't make a movie and cannot define one as cinematic. Me and You and Everyone We Know, like a number of other American inde films of the past few years, has an element of originality and quirky charm, even some moments of daring perhaps, but there's no substance, only a string of "ideas." Napoleon Dynamite as I mentioned is an example where the string of vignettes method works much more effectively, because of the well worked out point of view, the specificity of the details, the sense of milieu, the unified signature style and rhythm, and the memorable characters. The far greater public interest in the latter proves something lasting was created there. July's product is relatively slight and isn't likely to be remembered.

    That the qualities you admire in the film seem detached from the moviegoing experience it provides is examplified by the scene you describe as your favorite: .
    Then again, my favorite scene in the movie involves a kid and a grown-up meeting at the park, a rendezvous made possible by an anonymous sex-chatroom encounter. It's to July's credit that she has the courage to deal with this type of material and the vision and skill to make it work.
    As a scene, this rendezvous is almost non-existent. It just doesn't work for me because it has, as a scene, neither realism nor emotional resonance. The sequence of events leading up to it also isn't very believable -- the little boy can barely type; how would he wind up meeting somebody in the park? -- but as I remarked, truth is stranger (and more interesting) than this fiction. Such a moment, if it occurred in a movie by Tsai Ming-Liang, would be part of a mood and a style and a coherent, consistent, delicate view of the world. What Time Is it There? is an example of a movie that deals with similar material, but in a far more compelling and memorable way. You are talking about ideas, not a movie. You rush in to give "credit" to July for a scene that is almost non-existent, because you find what it refers to so faintly of importance as a topic. It's nice to be able to bring so much to the experience of a movie, but you have to ask yourself if it's justified by what happens on the screen.

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    Hi,
    I guess I can try to bridge the chasm between the two opposing views ... hee hee ...
    I guess I like it better than Chris, but less than Oscar ...
    Oops ... would I end up pleasing both parties or would I end up antagonizing both parties ...
    ;PPP

    Anyway, this is what I feel ...

    Originally posted by oscar jubis
    ... a distillation of a unique and idiosyncratic way of looking at the world.
    ... The scenes involving two high school girls seemed specially well-observed
    ... my favorite scene in the movie involves a kid and a grown-up meeting at the park
    Originally posted by Chris Knipp
    ... But then real life is a lot stranger and often more compelling than anything in this movie.
    ... is a series of vignettes
    ... It's neither plot driven nor character driven.
    ... It tries to survive on its quirkiness but that isn't enough because there's no passion behind it.
    (i) yup, the director did have an idiosyncratic way of looking at the world ... and she did have several good ideas ... ;) ... but all the vignettes were not too coherent (e.g., that of the two girls and the neighbor) ... if the main focus was on Richard and Christine (and maybe their family and work), how did the two girls and the neighbor fit *directly* into the story of Richard and Christine ... unless we accept the tangential connection (i.e., finally the two girls did something with Richard's eldest son) ...

    (ii) yup, most of the scenes were so unbelievable and yet so believable (e.g., setting hand on fire, two girls having odd "competition", neighbor posting weird notes, meeting of a kid and an adult, young girl maintaining dowry, the "love" between two most noncompatible people, the refusal of the parcel, etc)
    ... yet, if we were to think about it, ALL these events do exist in real life ... none of them are "news" ... however, the film did come across as contrived by simply assembling these many odd and/or shocking characters and scenes to try tell a "coherent" story ...

    (iii) yup ... all the short vignettes did have a consistent theme about relationship and not being able to communicate, but they dId not necessary flow from scene to scene in a coherent manner ...

    Originally posted by oscar jubis
    ... *Chris, I think our almost oppositional reactions to Me and You and Everyone We Know can perhaps be encapsulated by your finding "no passion behind it", and "no chemistry" between Hawkes and July. I had a completely different reaction.
    Originally posted by Chris Knipp
    ... But then real life is a lot stranger and often more compelling than anything in this movie.
    ...a serious weakness is that Deadwood actor Hawkes and July lack sex appeal or chemistry and their romance seems mechanical.
    (iv) Exactly, the director is trying to convince the audience that the oddest of two people (i.e., without chemistry and without appeal) can actually fall for each other ... yup, life is strange ... anyway, the romance is crafted intentionally to highlight the director's theme of poor communication ... so what can we say ... hee hee

    Originally posted by Chris Knipp
    ... The theme plays out. ... Two sex-crazed teenage girls tease Richard's big young bachelor co-worker and later test the older boy, giving him tandem blow jobs and asking him for a rating. "They seemed just the same," he says. "I couldn't tell the difference."
    (v) I actually had a different take of this scene ... I thought this was NOT in line with the theme ... in fact, I actually thought he knew the difference (based on his facial expression, and the fact that although his face was covered, the voice of the girl saying, "Now, your turn" has given the "anonymity" away ... sigh ... how careless ...). Anyway, I thought he INTENTIONALLY told them he could not tell the difference because he knew the two girls were friends having a competition, and he probably did not want them to become enemies ... NOW, he pleased both of them!
    Last edited by hengcs; 07-23-2005 at 02:38 PM.

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    *That silent scene in the park is simultaneously one of the funniest and most embarrasingly poignant scenes I've seen all year. Credit July for the mise-en-scene and the actors for the priceless gestures, particularly the art curator's bewilderement.
    *Funny how you feel about Napoleon Dynamite as I feel about Me and You... and I feel about Napoleon Dynamite the way you feel about Me and You....
    *You talk about the "far greater public interest" in Napoleon but going by IMdb ratings (what else do we have), folks who've seen Miranda July's film give it a 7.2 . The much more mainstream and less controversial Napoleon gets a 7.1 . Let's call it even. Critics are decidedly on July's side.

    Originally posted by hengcs
    Anyway, I thought he INTENTIONALLY told them he could not tell the difference because he knew the two girls were friends having a competition, and he probably did not want them to become enemies ... NOW, he pleased both of them!

    As you'd say...yup.

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    You talk about the "far greater public interest" in Napoleon but going by IMdb ratings (what else do we have), folks who've seen Miranda July's film give it a 7.2 . The much more mainstream and less controversial Napoleon gets a 7.1 . Let's call it even. Critics are decidedly on July's side.
    You always make that claim when you want to tout something of somewhat dubous merit. It's your last resort. Look at the public reponse to Ms. July's effort on IMDb in terms of the number of comments vs. the number about Napoleon Dynamite: 50 vs. 950. See any difference? Napoleon Dynamite has legs. It keeps being watched. Bet you that won't happen with Me and You etc. No matter how much you go on about that little scene in the park, it's trivial, as is the entire movie. It isn't "controversial." "Controversial" means there'd be contorversy about it. There isn't.

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    Four awards at Cannes, Special Jury Prize at Sundance, two awards at San Francisco International Film Festival, including the AUDIENCE award. Very good critical reviews. 7.2/10 IMdb rating. I respect the fact that you didn't like the film. But a lot of people, critics and audience, think very highly of it. I could be wrong, but the tone of your last post gives the appearance that you are upset that others really like a film you didn't like. It's not a film of "dubious" merit, it's simply one you didn't like and that's ok. You're not wrong or right, as film appreciation is no exact science.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 07-24-2005 at 03:53 PM.

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    Of course it upsets me that people like a film I think very little of. I remain quite convinced that Me and You... is of very dubious merit. I don't like to see people led astray. I'm disappointed in you and everyone we know who go on about how great this unimpressive movie is. I don't trust Cannes and I don't trust Sundance, though both can come up with good stuff, especially Cannes. I'm not infallible, but I have faith in my taste and I'm convinced this is a very thin stuff indeed.

    I don't know what degree of critical consensus this is, in the data you cite. You're biased and are trying to prove a point. Whatever. This may be the new Sideways, the most overpraised movie of the season. There was a critical consensus there. But while Sideways was misjudged in being rated above all other American movies of the time, and that was a critical consensus, Sideways had merit; it had excellent acting and a good screenplay. I need to look into who is praising Me and You...most highly among US critics. At the top of it is I-Like-Everything Sundance champion Roger Ebert. Among dissenters is the wry sourpuss Anthony Lane of The New Yorker:
    Beware films bearing Sundance awards [Lane wrote]. “Me and You and Everyone We Know,” written and directed by Miranda July, won a Special Jury Prize at this year’s festival for “Originality of Vision.” That’s one way of putting it. July also stars in the movie as Christine, a video artist who likes to train the camera on herself. Christine falls for a shoe salesman named Richard (John Hawkes), who has just separated from his wife. Their two boys live with him part of the week, spending hours online. One of them, a teen-ager, is used by a couple of underage girls as a test bed for their oral skills; the other, aged only six, blunders uncomprehendingly into Internet sex.

    All of this is offered in the flat, affectless tone so beloved of independent directors (of whom Todd Solondz is the reigning lord), as if they were daring us to respond with shock and so betray our reactionary souls. Well, I’ll take the risk. “Me and You” is not just creepy and unsavory at such moments, but pleased to be so. That’s a shame, because elsewhere it loosens up, drops the art-school archness, and starts to scout the world for casual riches. There’s a scene in which Richard and Christine walk along a street, and the camera gazes, with a tremor, at a sign saying “Ice Land” above their heads, against a backdrop of Hockney blue. It’s the halfway mark of their stroll, although to Christine, who is fast turning into a bunny-boiler, it’s so much more than that: “Ice Land is kind of like that point in a relationship when you suddenly realize it’s not going to last forever.” The loveliness is blown. The image was enough, and another director, or a tougher editor, would have left it to hang fire. Still, I remember thinking much the same of “Sweetie,” the early Jane Campion film, and look how she strode onward, leaving behind the willed kookiness, toward “The Piano”—her eyes as keen as ever, eager to observe not me and you and everyone we know but things of which we never even dreamed.
    Me and You is another example of what I have called "Todd Solondz lite." This time it's Todd Solondz cute, and so its mainstream-ready. This is I suppose an inevitable phonomenon. I only wish she had included a dwarf. But I really don't. I agree with Lane in wishing she'd relax and drop the art-school archness more often. I too loved that walk, till the casualness was blown. In future she may come up with something. And then I'll praise her -- as Lane hints he may yet live to do. But not now.

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    Me, You, Them

    A droll, peculiar, oddly affecting but not wholly original film about people’s reservations and desires regarding connecting with each other in the modern world, Me and You and Everyone We Know is the feature film debut of the 31-year-old American artist Miranda July. July plays the lead, a struggling video/performance artist who in the meantime is running a taxi service for the elderly. She comes across an enigmatic but rather plain mall shoe salesman (John Hawkes) and gets smitten (don’t forget that this is Amer-indie world where eccentrics don’t have much trouble finding each other!). Anyway, it turns out that the salesman is the father of two more sensitive-types (Miles Thompson and Brandon Ratcliff) from a marriage which happens to be an interracial one. His neighbors, including a perverted co-worker, a couple of sexually promiscuous teenage girls, and a younger more responsible girl are also part of the makeup. (It also seem like all the "interesting" people live on the same block in the indie world; and if not, then they just keep bumping into each other.)

    First of all, July needs to be commended for trusting her vision and sensibilities. She isn’t making many grand rhetorical statements here. I highly respect that this is a very personal effort and I wish there were more of them. Having said that, her vision is rather narrow-minded. Most of the teenagers in MaYaEWN are Clarkian manifestations: it’s all about sex. Slyly, though, July has a younger girl contrast the others (she collects minor household items for her dowry!) but in the real world it’s not one way or the other. Conversely, the adults in the film are awkward and shy since they practically have no interpersonal skills. But July has a charming personality and she’s well supported by Hawkes so that doesn’t become a huge issue. One particular scene between them which takes place on a sidewalk is well-documented and deservedly so because it’s one of the highlights of the film along with a remarkably tense sequence involving a goldfish (you’ll know when you watch the film).

    MaYaEWN tied for the Camera d’OR at Cannes earlier this year with the Srilankan film The Forsaken land, but on the whole the film is a bit over-rated. Much has been written about her sensitive handling of the issue of child sexuality, which she has but without much depth. Other maverick filmmakers have done it better but their films aren’t "cute" and those filmmakers are certainly not photogenic young women. Amateurishly, July goes overboard with one of the characters: a bitchy and arrogant museum curator whose final scene in the film feels false and contrived, not to mention a bit exploitative. (One recent quote from her is very telling: "Sometimes I think I'm going out on a limb in a way that'll bring everyone together and it turns out completely alienating.") While I’m sure, like any performance artist, July went through some struggles early on in her career, but by staging those sequences she just seem a little too miffed for someone whose work has been shown at the likes of MoMA and the Guggenheim, and she already has a decent following in the art-world.

    What I do love, however, are the minor moments between the father and his two sons having trouble relating to each other in any way, shape or form. I love the pink dots on the dashboard; those pink shoes (it’s safe to say that pink is her favorite color); the aforementioned goldfish; the electronic score etc. Her minimalist approach is certainly consistent and she has the ability to transcend even the most mundane of activities. But, while Ghost World (2000) was comparably more cynical and certainly more conventional, it left much more of an impression as a whole. MaYaEWN has its moments but they’re fleeting and they don’t come together as well, and much like its final scene, they leave you a little unsatisfied.


    ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW - Grade: B-

    ___________________________

    *The film is currently in limited release. It will be available on DVD on October 11th.

    *Miranda July's blog.

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    Very well put, and you are kinder than I am about this, which I have to admit has good bits. Good lead sentence. And amusing last sentence in that paragraph. Good that you talk about the focus on the snooty gallerist -- an important aspect of the movie given Joy's previous career. Having dealt with gallerists quite a bit myself (perhaps without Ms. July's degree of success) I'm less displeased with the acid portrait. Anyway it's balanced by the fact that July's character is accepted by the gallery. We may not know why either in terms of the gallerist character or in terms of the video submitted -- but so goes the art world. I agree with you on the child sex presentation; not as interesting as people seem to think. There are lots of clever little observations in the movie, but they don't add up to a good movie, so I'd give it a C+, though that leaves me with the question: how come Cannes..... etc. Obviously there's more to love here than I am able to perceive. Ghost World -- much better: but I'm not sure why you mention it -- I don't quite see the connection. Ghost World seems to me on another plane altogether, with a haunting mood and a hypmotic momentum this rather improvised (but admittedly confident) piece lacks. I like your review but wonder why if it leaves you unsatisfied itrates a B- , apparently for being bravely "inde."

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    Thanks. I really like your attitude about how to handle these films as a critic as another one of your recent posts indicates. You confidently speak for yourself and your head is not in the clouds.

    Yes, July is eventually accepted by the gallerist in the film but that sequence just didn't feel quite right. Her self-deprecating act showed signs of superiority - as if her work isn't accepted then it must be because others can't understand it rather than the possibility that it sucks.

    You know, we should let the film sit for a little while. I think, in a couple of years from now when she'll come out with another film and people will revisit this one, it won't be the same.

    Ghost World came to me when I was contemplating the main relationship in this one; much like Hawkes, Buscemi was also a little scared to get involved. That film was more of a social commentary but it also featured slightly off-beat characters and certain unique observations.

    "B-" is tough balancing act. Slightly above average ("C+") but not quite good. I hope that I wasn't too harsh and mentioned enough positives.

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    Thank you. Some teachers use fractional grades, and by that method this might be a C+ over B-. On the basis of many enthusiastic crittical assessments it might get a further split grade of B over B+ for promise, and C+ over B- for coherence of finished effort.

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