Friday, June 3, 2011

Ten Statements About....PERSONAL VELOCITY (2002)

I thought only David Goyer could make me hate the beauty
and personality that is Parker Posey.  Now I know better...
"He does this because he doesn't know me. I'm rotten with ambition, a lusty little troll, the kind of demon you'd find on the bottom floor of Hell pulling fingernails off of the loan sharks."

1) Fuck this movie.

No really, fuck this movie.

(What? I have to say nine more things? Damn...okay....)

2) What was the first sign that this was going to be The Mutha Of All Slogs? That the film is financed by the Independent Film Channel? That Rebecca Miller, the writer and director of the film, based this on three short stories from her own book of short stories named Personal Velocity? was that the title on the film (Three Portraits) does not match the title the movie has everywhere else.

3) And the most frustrating this is that all three of the actresses in these 'portraits' are giving it them all--it's just that Miller, besotted with proving that she's a arrrteest in all forms, undermines their performances with all these goofy 'indy movie' tricks. Sedgewick, Posey and Balk are incapable of building anything lasting in this maze of still snapshots, special filters, flashbacks and narration. And speaking of narration....

"I could kick your snaggle-toothed face in...but the script
says I give you a handjob instead..."
4) That. Fucking. Damn. Narration by John Ventimilgia is the absolute and total worst of these tricks. Everytime you hear his slightly condescending tones explaining to you where these three women came from and why they're doing what they're doing, it thoroughly kicks you out of the movie. Miller apparently didn't realize that prose is not like film, and vice versa, because there's so much of this narration that it builds a fence around these characters, making them inaccesible. And there's so much of Ventimiglia--I swear he has more lines of dialogue than Sedgewick does in her segment--that you can't get away from him.

5) There is not a single sympathetic character in this movie. At the best, they're naive and stupid (Balk's Paula), and at the worst they're detestable monsters (Posey's Greta). Now, don't get me wrong--it is possible to have your movie revolve around questionable, unpleasant or downright evil characters, but they need to either have something that makes them compelling to follow, or give them a way to redeem themselves. But since these are 'portraits' instead of actual, you know, stories, they don't end as much as stop.

6) Miller must've thought she was extremely clever in linking the stories of Greta and Paula...except that if you link two of your stories, you better damn well make sure you link your third...and the story of Delia floats in space, unmoored to the continuity of this movie.

7) One of the things I can say that's positive about this movie lies in the way these three actresses act with their entire body, not just their faces. Hell, Parker Posey's performance as Greta is a clinic in how to make your body language at odds with your words without seeming over the top.

"Hi, Amtrak...could I get the time for the next train out
of this mopey picutre?"
8) Ms. Miller--I know you think the sight of young Delia putting her breasts up on the washline with clothing pins was funny...but it just comes off as weird.

9) This is the type of movie so in love with its own arrrteestiness that it doesn't even pay attention to its own timeline. If Greta is 28 during the story...then how is she in law school ten years earlier. My impression was always that you went to college to study pre-law, then you went to law school...which makes her something of a child prodigy--but still a dick.

10) Did Ms. Miller expect us to be uplifted by Kyra Sedgewick's battered housewife giving a handjob to a crooked teeth doofus? Or Posey breaking up with her husband to, presumably, engage in various sexual escapades? Or Balk going back to her immigrant boyfriend after her car has been stolen? Well, if that's what she expected...she fails utterly as a writer, and as a director.

Overall...fuck this movie. This is the other end of the 'bad indy filmmaking'--so drunk with power with its own cleverness that it kills dead what are three good performances by three good actresses. I can only hope Posey, Sedgewick and Balk found Miller after the fact and kicked her ass but good.

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