I Don't Want to Grow Up

Two movies that treat adulthood like an unexpected, unwanted deer in the road.  

The main characters of The Disobedient, Leni & Lazar, are children trapped inside of adult bodies and like little kids uncomfortable in clothing they are aching to be naked, writhing their way out of the expectations inherent in growing up. This film is a sprite-ly, dark, conflicting, sexual, road/bike trip through the Serbian countryside as these two childhood friends reunite (at a funeral no less!) and rekindle their twisted, juvenile relationship. The two have that creepy yet sweet madcap dynamic- almost like Belmondo & Anna Karina in Godard's Pierrot Le Fou- that is mesmerizing, disgusting, beautiful and freeing all at once; they disrupt their surroundings, are plagued by impulse and are wholly unhealthy for eachother- much like life itself! It is a hard film to try and capture in words, the actions of the characters speak more than any dialogue...in fact, an older gentleman (whom I read was, fittingly, the host of a popular Serbian children's tv show) acts as a narrator throughout the film, following the two as they eddy around creating their nearly inconsequential paths of destruction and explaining some of the action to the audience like a storybook reader removed from time.

This is the type of movie I normally don't like, beautiful but barely likable characters acting within extremely stylized scenes, glassy emotion favored over depth or narrative boldness. But, The Disobedient uses this often unlikable form as a critique on the very culture it is displaying. It captures the essence of childhood innocence, the tortured beauty in growing up, the minefield of interpersonal relationships, inconsequential tradition, and questions the status quo (an epic, comically surreal wedding crashing scene actually manages to address all of these themes in one swift spin), imparting these portraits with a contrived rawness that is ingrained in the ever-growing real world population of childlike adults. This film is a striking portrait of gross indulgence that is a difficult truth to look at, if living in the (manufactured, dreamy, contradictory) moment is the alternative to responsibility & stability what does the future look like?  Rooftop Films Tuesday July 1st, NY Premier with the actors & director & drinks & Balkan music on a rooftop farm. Seriously.

Thanksgiving tells a story about a woman who invites her so-called brother to Thanksgiving, an arrogant man-child coolly living off the grid. His truculent attitude slowly chips away at her normal life, one that is swathed in a room full of holiday hipster perfection (probably gluten free & locally sourced) complete with a boring, round-glasses-wearing, doting partner...The theme of beautiful exteriors and clawing interiors is mirrored by the warm yellow tone of the film, an embracing softness that feels too good to be true and just might be. The cramped spaces of the city & its expectations balanced with the sweeping unknown of an outdoor hike made me wonder if the director, Adam Newport-Berra, was a cinematographer: he is!. Berra tells most of the story through visual tension, relying on a strong eye, and placing his characters expertly within his vivid frames. This film is a very real tale about a conflict that I think many 20-30year old gentrifying urbanites go through: do we want a passionate, volatile, exciting life or do we want the seemingly smooth ride of complacency and tradition? Do we want to play records or do we want to play house?

Thanksgiving tells a common conflict of growing up vs. not growing up but it does not simply announce a clear winner. It slyly explores the entire notion of societal expectations and personal expression- what we want, want we are told we want, and what we actually need- with a slight acknowledgement of how capitalism defines these expectations & expressions. Similar in scope to the film Rachel Getting Married (an idealized gloss of an event with a charged undercurrent of anger & dissatisfaction) and even a little of Woody Allen's Interiors (composed spaces glossing over real familial concerns) the calm, tender filmmaking that supports the narrative is crafted by a thoughtful, ambitious eye, a filmmaker who hopefully has more stories to tell. Thanksgiving has its world premier at  Rooftop Films Thursday July 3rd, the film will open with a special guest set by comic Reggie Watts (who makes a cameo in the film).

[Note: I wrote (heavily edited) descriptions of these films for Rooftop!]



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