So you’re going to make a movie about a young girl discovering her identity through obscure, violent sporting events? I’m there. For those of you who have not experienced the crazier side of American sports there’s a great little sport called roller derby. It’s like roller skating but with violence, because all good American sports need violence. Add in chicks with tight tank tops and tough attitude and you’ve got yourself a marketable film.
After seeing the wonderful Treeless Mountain I immediately hopped onto Netflix and added the only other So Yong Kim film, In Between Days. And there are certainly a number of similarities between the two. Both center around a duo, both are very much about the displacement of people and both have the same aesthetic sensibilities. While the film has a lot of the same things I like about Treeless Mountain it is a very different film in tone, setting and characters.
Sometimes smart people do stupid things like convince themselves Smart People could be a good film. To be fair it could have been a good film. It’s got a strong cast and an interesting premise but potential doesn’t always pay off. Instead the film teeters back and forth between two ideas, never solidifying into one cohesive work. So instead of something smart and funny the film turns into a march of stereotypical characters in a series of awkward situations that fails to set a consistent tone.
Juno is a weirdo. Yes, the film’s protagonist is a bit of an oddball and stripper turned screenwriter Diablo Cody lays down some funky lingo but that’s not what I’m talking about. The film is a strange anomaly in the industry. It’s a comedy with liberal media sensibilities and conservative ideologies. “Say what? You mean that beautiful indie darling of that glorious year 2007 is actually a hideous propaganda piece written by a robot programmed at Fox News?” “That whole movie is about a one night stand anyway so it’s tawdry trash for all those evil atheists in the world.” But before we get into all that fun political stuff let us look at the merits of the film.
Sometimes you just know. Before I even hit play I knew this film was meant for me. What did I know about it? Barely a thing. My memory only reminded me that it was about two kids and it was minimalistic in style. Not much to go on. All I actually read on Treeless Mountain was a small bit in “The New York Times” over a year ago. But I knew then as I held the paper in my hands that this film would perfectly play into my psychosis and that I couldn’t help but love it. Yes, it sounds weird but sometimes you just know.