Film Junk Podcast Episode #345: Bellflower

0:00 – Intro
3:00 – Headlines: Ricky Gervais to Host the Golden Globes, David Yates to Direct Doctor Who Movie, Rampage Video Game to Become a Movie, Oscar Documentary Shortlist
28:15 – Review: Bellflower
1:04:45 – Trailer Trash: Snow White and the Huntsman, Mirror Mirror, The Hunger Games
44:15 – Other Stuff We Watched: Blow Out, Dazed and Confused, EdTV, Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man, Corman’s World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel, Louis, Martin & Michael, Louis Theroux’s Weird Weekends, Fanny and Alexander
1:42:50 – Junk Mail: Moneyball and Inaccuracies in Movies Based on True Stories, Movies You Missed But Will Never Catch Up On, Organizing a Book Collection, Primer and Movies You Just Didn’t Get + Batman as a Detective
2:16:25 – This Week’s DVD Releases
2:18:30 – Outro

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  • TJ

    Great podcast as usual, guys…

    I enjoyed Bellflower quite a bit, though I can see why the film is so divisive. I didn’t totally love it mostly because some of the performances were absolutely terrible, Aiden’s character especially. But the opening stages of the relationship between Woodrow and Milly felt very real to me. I thought they captured the feel of lower class LA neighborhoods perfectly. That everything felt realistic to me, I dunno if that makes me a fuckin’ hipster or what, but somehow I got it.

  • Jersey Jason

    You may or may not know this, but the crew that made this movie built the camera themselves using an image sensor and a lens adapter. The visuals are a direct result of that. It’s actually pretty interesting.

    Here’s a video showing the rig.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk1OQcF9um0

  • Jersey Jason

    Also…Jay, if you’re gonna give Mumble Core a shot, check out Nights & Weekends. I think it’s got some charm, plus it stars Greta Gerwig.

  • From the Mr. Nobody Bluray package artwork:

    “Mr. Nobody is like fucking a kid”

    – Jay Cheel

    Classic!

  • As a fan of both Mr. Nobody and Bellflower, I’d say that neither of them are ‘crimes of cinema’ We have Adam Sandler films and and other soulless dribble that are worse.

    On that note, in a similar way that P.T. Anderson went about things with Punchdrunk Love (a better film than Bellflower but bear with me.)

    Bellflower works (for me anyway) because it shows just how man-child these two guys are. The film is designed in the exact way the characters perceive themselves. Waiting for the apocalypse because it will be so fucking cool! But when Woodrow gets his ‘apocalypse’ in relationship implosion, it’s not cool for him. How their ‘big ideas’ are so out of touch with human emotions, connection, their desire for an ‘apocalypse’ as a style option in no way plays for the main character. But here is the catch, it still plays out as hipster cool as a film.

    Whether it is intentional or not, Bellflower gets at why a lot of people watch movies. To have a visceral thrill without the actual consequences. So there are the consequences for Woodrow, but not the consequences for the Evan Glodell. I think that is an interesting thing to think about during the film. (OK, so it’s not Godard, but still.) Also, the two friends are better suited to just hanging out and building cars, flame throwers, etc. than figuring out how to traverse the difficulties of a relationship (outside of their bro-mance). When you say Woodrow and Milly have only known each other for a couple weeks, why so heavy, so apocalyptic. It’s the damn point of the film. A lack of adjustment/perspective (see again, Punchdrunk Love). Ditto their reaction when they have to pick up the stuff, and they behave like children.

    In the end, you might argue whether all the depth in the movie is actually intended by the filmmakers or an ironic accident…but the fact that it is there makes for an interesting movie. The visual style works too, as does the ‘is it in his head’ structure. To me it all feeds back into the ‘surface level’ vs. ‘depth’ of these characters. I think it is an interesting commentary on a type of person. I think it is a pretty damn good film. I didn’t even think the acting was bad…it is the way the characters are…

    Love VAMPIRE’S KISS, very underrated. His rendition of the alphabet is awesome in that movie. http://www.rowthree.com/2009/06/29/finite-focus-the-abcs-of-chewing-scenery-vampires-kiss/

  • re: KATNISS in The Hunger Games. The name has significance in the film. It actually means something. Remember this is sci-fi/fantasy so the names are all a little “off”. Think of the names in Lord of the Rings. Out of context they’re pretty lame. Just my two cents.

  • And now I’m pretty psyched to see Bellflower. Better than Mr. Nobody? COUNT ME IN!

  • Kurt: The point of Bellflower may be masculinity and the incapability of young men (okay, they’re not all *that* young) to deal with emotions, but I think my problem is that it seems to celebrate how immature they are. It makes them seem so cool because they go completely off the deep end. It does not in any way feel like an examination of the repercussions of that, and the characters do not develop or learn anything from it. Once again, the fact that the writer/director is also the star and that it is based on a personal experience of his makes it incredibly hard for me to take it as a commentary on anything.

  • Well, the movie is obviously ‘headspace’ an exaggeration, blown up to apocalyptic proportions (hence all the Road Warrior love) Sure it goes for looking cool, but not being able to deal with basic human situations is not cool. I think that is implicit in the film, even if it is not clearly stated. These dudes are stunted, and that is what the film is about.

  • fatbologna

    I actually really like a lot of what Vice does outside of their fashion stuff. Their world reporting and VBS mini docs are awesome. Bellflower and the culture it represents can go fuck a duck though.

  • Maybe if there were definite consequences to Woodrow’s meltdown and if it wasn’t (potentially) just in his head, I could have bought into it a little more. I still think a lot of the enjoyment of this film depends on whether or not you can relate to him, which I can’t.

  • fatbologna

    Jay,
    if you’re planning on checking out more Bergman works I’d highly recommend my personal favourite, Cries and Whispers. It’s a pretty stunning film that manages to take family melodrama so far that it almost becomes a horror film. It was one of my first REAL foreign film experiences in my high school film class and it’s always stuck with me since. Great movie.

  • fatbologna

    Wow, I wrote ‘film’ a LOT of times in that last post!

  • anonymiss

    Kurt- the problem with this movie is that why it have been the point of the director to show how this character wasn’t able to handle the response to his “apocalypse”, deep down it’s not how the director truly feels. It’s obvious that the director/actor/writer/producer is a part of this generation he is analyzing, and it rings false. The weight is taken out of it because he is in fact one of these people and his film acts as if he is this person being analyzed for their flaws and immaturity. Yet, I guarantee you that the director not only loves the toys, but also thinks that underneath it his character is right and the world is fucked.

    It would be the equivalent of a “fanboy” making a movie about a depressed fat film geek that made a movie about how much of a loser he was for loving movies so much. Meanwhile he is still creaming himself about all the obscure fanboy references he put in the film. bellflower is ugly as sin and the script is a pandering and self-indulgent mess. It’s the worst kind of film, one that exists to show how cool yet aware the writer/director/producer/actor is.

  • kyri

    I like Primer.

    GREAT SHOW GUYS. (for a change)

  • Colin

    @fatbologna Watch “Page One”… you won’t like Vice as much anymore.

  • sansho1

    re Moneyball — I’m as big a Bill James nerd as you’ll find. I’ve been reading his stuff for going on 30 years, and read Moneyball the week it was released. First off, Frank is right about the book not being a perfect representation, either. Oakland’s big three pitchers (Mulder, Hudson, Zito), while not completely ignored as they were in the movie, were definitely not focused on.

    I didn’t find the factual inaccuracies off-putting, as long as the drama was being served. You just have to expect that. The only moment that really bothered me was when Art Howe (PSH) told Scott Hatteberg (Chris Pratt, the catcher-turned-first-baseman) to pinch-hit when they were going for their 20th straight win, and Pratt gives this “who, me?” gulp and the other players look surprised. I mean, even in the movie it was established that Hatteberg was a long-time major leaguer, but the moment played as though he was a rookie at the end of the bench. To me, it played falsely as drama, because there’s no way he would have felt overwhelmed by that moment.

  • goon

    Watching Bellflower. It is taking great will to make it through and the fact Im writing this now means it doesnt have my full attention. It’s just plain vapid.

  • fatbologna

    @Colin,

    Nope, still like ‘em. Shane Smith’s a bad motherfucker no matter what anyone says. Besides, Carr’s daughter works for Vice and it’s been revealed that most of what was in the doc was blown way out of proportion. Regardless of who’s “better” at covering genocide Vice makes it entertaining so they win. ;)

  • swarez

    Re: Snow White films.

    I don’t think either film will do much business but Mirror Mirror will probably be victorious as it’s more family friendly. The dark and serious tone of Cunt’s Man reminded me of the Narnia films and those haven’t been doing stellar business. And anyone else than Peter Jackson pulling this look has never been successful, again Narnia and Golden Cum Piss.
    And it’s been proven over and over that the presence of a Twilight cast member in a role has never been a money magnet. Water For Elephants, Abduction and The Runnaways didn’t rake in the cash and if anything, aside from the Oscar buzz that Elephants got all of these films came and went without fanfare.
    Twilight fans only want to see these kids in Twilight films.

  • I was aware that lots of the events and orders of events were not accurate while watching Moneyball, but it doesn’t change the fact that I loved the movie. The movie and story gives the real-life Beane a bit too much credit for what the team did, but I just don’t care. Movie was fantastic. Problem is people that see these films and remember the story as facts. I’d say these people are many, but stupid for doing so.

    ALso, Greg, you’re not missing anything. Just have three or four people stand in front of you and talk in a strange manner and make no jokes and you will have the same experience as watching Napoleon Dynamite. Consider it one big unfunny bullet dodged.

  • Andrew O’Hehir (SALON) says most things that need to be said about Bellflower, criticisms and merits here: Worth a read. http://www.salon.com/2011/08/02/indie_film_discovers_scifi_spectacle/

  • patrik

    Greg is wrong, I want to see Snow White and the Huntsman. I´m no longer a teenager though but close enough. Also, Stewart deserves a lot more credit than she gets. Horrible in Twilight but very good in everything else.

  • Henrik

    Cries and Whispers will open your eyes!

  • @Kurt I like your analysis, but in the end, I don’t think it’s really condemning the characters — or if it is, it doesn’t feel like the filmmakers mean it.

    It seemed to me they were far more interested in tinkering around with whatever (case in point, every press clipping I saw for the film spent more time dwelling on Glodell’s camera than actually describing the film)and showing it off than exploring the characters and their relationships.

    What is Milly but the same kind of quirky-indie-fuck-bucket everyone complains about Zooey Daschenel being? Is there an actual personality behind the character other than the fact that she’s impulsive? And in the most sickeningly superficially sweet ways.

    I guess my point is that none of the characters were ever that compelling or even likable; so if the apocalypse were in fact a more personal, rather than global, event, that just makes it worse because the people it’s affecting aren’t especially deep or interesting.

    But disregarding even that, suppose you’re right about everything and the film indeed has a deep message. Who’s that message for? Like you said, Aiden and Woodrow are extremely maladjusted people. I agree, and I couldn’t really identify with them on any level; and rethinking it in the context of your argument, they either they were too eccentric or too self-aware for the message to carry any impact.

  • bard

    Great choice for the outro song, Sean. I love Why?

    Have you listened to cLOUDDEAD? Check out their album “Ten”, it’s very weird, but great.

  • Another take on Bellflower, perhaps the most levelheaded one that strides the line between my view and the Film Junk take:

    http://outlawvern.com/2011/11/21/bellflower/#more-10527