May 21, 2003

Self improvement  

Went to see the new Neil Labute effort today, called The Shape of Things. It didn't really live up to my hopes - the dialogue was kind of unweildy (written for the stage?) and the vicious interpersonal dramas weren't nearly as vivid or believable as what we saw in Your Friends and Neighbors. Instead, the film was built on a central conceit, sort of like In the Company of Men, and I think the characterization suffered as a result. Of course, the setup itself worked pretty well, apart from the seriously belabored ending.

I think there was also a bit of self-consciousness in this film that I didn't get from the others - here Labute dealt much more directly here with artistic manipulation and all the moral questions the artist-as-manipulator has to face... not really surprising when you consider the reviews he got for Your Friends and Neighbors. In that sense it reminded me of the second half of Tom Solondz's Storytelling, except that Labute looks his detractors right in the face and gives them two middle fingers, where Solondz can only retreat into sarcasm.


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