Not in My Backyard (The Tenants)

Just saw a really miserably half-baked movie, The Tenants. It stars that tall drink of water, Dylan McDermott Mulroney, as a clever friend calls him, and that too-tall drink of water, Snoop Dogg, as two writers eating each other for breakfast in an otherwise-vacated Brooklyn apartment house. Via a blank-faced traffic-in-woman paradigm named Irene. I think. For a minute I thought this film's one asset was its rather beautiful set design, but even for a low-budget movie, its anachronisms were hard to overlook. (Um, who carried a doggy pooper scooper in early '70s Red Hook? Who drove a Prius, for that matter?)

Why bother to rant? A critic's job is to filter crap movies so that those with more honorable occupations don't have to waste their leisure time. But I just got back from Sundance, where pretty much every American independent dramatic feature was crap. The few ones that didn't completely shank, like Little Miss Sunshine, were bought and sold before you could utter the words NOT CRAP. Which is the only possible reason why a movie as weak-sister as The Tenants scored distribution besides its bankable stars.

Why have American indies hit such a complete wall? Why are the only good films shown right now coming from overseas? Why are the few American dramas that don't suck and aren't completely derivative, like Forty Shades of Blue or anything by Andrew Bujalksi, languishing in unheated art houses in overly rarified cities like NYC or LA while Starsky and His Boyfriend King Kong subsume two screens at every megaplex theater?

Given that so few movies that I see really rock, and given that the marriage of commerce and art is what distracts most of us who in a different era would be burning bras or the Capitol, I'm very curious about who's buying what — and whom. Look for a series of interviews about distribution here at The Broad View in the months to come. As well as an imminent redesign. And if anyone wants to help me with said redesign, give me a holler. Not, I might add, a holla. Hollas are so 2004. So speaketh this broad.



Anonymous Filmbrain said...

Why have American indies hit such a complete wall?

Come back Vincent Gallo, all is forgiven.

Unbelievable how nearly every person I've spoken to about Sundance has had the same reaction. The re-birth of German cinema, the burgeoning Chinese independent scene, and of course my beloved Korean cinema -- that's where it's at.

2/03/2006 4:52 PM  
Blogger Lisa Rosman said...

yes, i like the german cinema and the korean cinema. and even though i hate-hate-hated french cinema for a time, our love affair is back on.

but more than that, i don't know why i expect american indie to not be stuck when everything else that's supposedly subversive in america is stuck as a pig in mud. like, wicked stuck. our film --self-referential, self-delusional --is our country. and the fact that german film is finding an authentic voice makes sense since germany itself is stepping up. sometimes i think we're in a sci fi novel in which germany and the US have completely swapped identities.

2/04/2006 12:00 AM  
Blogger Kim Voynar said...

I was going to argue with you about there being no good indie films at Sundance, and then I remembered that almost every good film I saw there was foreign. 13 (Tzameti), Eve and the Firehorse, Adam's Apples, Little Red Flowers. I did love Quinceanera, though, and I was glad to see it win. And I thought Maggie Gyllenhaal did a bang-up job with Sherrybaby.

2/23/2006 1:14 PM  

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