It’s been a while since we’ve done one of these (we keep meaning to and then the day slips away from us â€” and were intimidated by the very thought of trying to digest all of those "Batman Begins" reviews into a paragraph), but once again Armond White summons us to back.
+ "Me and You and Everyone We Know": We loved this film, and it got a warm to ecstatic critical reception this past weekend, opening in New York. That being said, we could easily see how someone wouldn’t like it. It flirts with preciousness, and though, save for one moment (Christine, in her car, writing on the windshield, if you’ve seen it), the film held us totally in its grasp, we assumed it wouldn’t be many others’ cup of tea. There are several other reasonable complaints you could lodge against it, none of which the New York Press‘ Armond White makes in his snarling take-down.
If I had never seen a film by D.W. Griffith, Antonioni, Ozu, John Ford, Vincente Minnelli or Prince, I might have been impressed by performance artist Miranda July’s Cannes award-winning directorial debut, "Me and You and Everyone We Know." It’s contemporary high art, made as though no cinema about human experience had ever existedâ€”as if being wimpy and sweet about this thing called life was justified by the "indie" filmmaking label.
Does an even mildly ambitious film have to be Antonioni to get a good review out of you, M. White? Or would you prefer that no one attempt "cinema about human experience" anymore, it being just done to death these days?
We don’t want to dwell so much on White’s reviews, which are clearly written to provoke and to differ from the crowd (is there anyone more conscious of what the other critics are saying about a film?). "Me and You" might well be the kind of film that’s tailor-made to please critics (particularly the "hipster critics" White railed against in the 2004 Slate Movie Club) and a certain type of indie movie-goer likely to go see it. But what of it? It may not be Ozu, but we haven’t heard anyone labeling as such, and simplicity in a film shouldn’t automatically be a pejorative. Anyway, we’re a little frustrated because White touches on these ideas that have such validity ("indie films" becoming a parade of particularly navel-gazing, sensitive, Sundance-y ensemble weepies) and then makes such inflammatory, erratic statement that we have no idea what kind of good film he’s championing.
Over at indieWIRE, the Reverse Shot crew like the film quite a bit better than White. Lead reviewer Kristi Mitsuda is particularly enchanted, saying that it "achieves a rare distinction: It manages to make a cinematic exploration of love, that most done-to-death of all themes, effervescently fresh again." Nicolas Rapold and Elbert Ventura, responding, seem fond if not as rapturous. David Edelstein at Slate sums up how we felt about it, as something:
admirable and wondrously strangeâ€”as well as gorgeous, funny, dreamlike, mesmerizing, squirmy, and occasionally annoying, the way a borderline-precious solo performance can be. But if you get on the movie’s wavelength, the annoying parts just melt into the ether.
A. O. Scott over at the New York Times admits as well that the film is calculated and won’t work for everyone. Of Miranda July’s main character Christine:
Her provocations may strike some people as overly cute, and her self-consciousness as a tiresome form of solipsism. But "Me and You and Everyone We Know" is brave enough to risk this rejection, and generous enough not to deserve it. I like it very much, and I hope you will, too.
And Anthony Lane at the New Yorker weighs in today with criticism of the film, though more balanced than White’s. Basically, it’s too calculated for him, and he’s not charmed (Christine also strikes him as a "bunny-boiler").
+ Don’t Know Much. (NY Press)
+ American Beauty: Miranda July’s "Me and You and Everyone We Know" (indieWIRE)
+ Christmas in July (Slate)
+ An Artistic Eye Wide Open, Observing Odd, Lost Souls (NY Times)
+ Bewildered (New Yorker)