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IFFBoston – Lonesome Jim

It was a packed house for opening night of IFFBoston last night, with hipsters lined up around the block at Somerville Theater to see Lonesome Jim and director (and indie-film poster boy) Steve Buscemi in person. Apparently 400 hopeful hipsters didn’t get in. As for me, I walked in and was suddenly surrounded by people I knew and hadn’t seen in awhile. It was definitely a Film Scene night. Blogcards were passed around, screenplays were discussed.

Buscemi was quite charming, and fielded an array of dumb and intelligent questions with a mixture of sarcasm and honesty. (Why is it a rule that the first question asked at these things is always the dumbest?) I admire a man who doesn’t let the dumbness of a question slide. Most interesting was his comment that shooting the film on DV gave him the freedom to not say “cut.” Once a shot is over and the director calls “cut”, the crew starts rushing onto the set and moving things around and screwing up the vibe. So he didn’t ever cut and instead would just keep talking to the actors and moving on to new takes. If he were shooting on film, he said, that kind of approach would be too expensive. It’s an approach that only an actor-director would be likely to take, I’d imagine. Buscemi himself doesn’t act in this film, and didn’t write it, and he sounded as if he now preferred directing to acting. He did also mention John Cassevetes, the pioneer for independent actor’s cinema, and it seems he’s following the Cassavetes career path.

And now, onto the film.

I’m getting tired of watching movies that are merely twentysomething male fantasies written onto the screen. See Garden State. And if you have seen it, you don’t really need to see Lonesome Jim. It’s pretty much the same basic story–some very funny dialogue, but overall your typical depressed-guy-meets-cheery-and-unbelievably-patient-girl-who-saves-him story. Lonesome Jim is a bit darker, and Jim (Casey Affleck) is much less likeable than Zach Braff in Garden State, which makes it even more infuriating that the female lead (Liv Tyler) is inexplicably so in love with this jerk. It’s a wonder men get so frustrated with women who are only attracted to jerks when that’s the same story that’s been fed to us over and over by movies–Hollywood and Indie alike. Let’s see, Jim is 27 and had to move back home with his parents because he couldn’t make enough money walking dogs in New York to live there, where he was trying to be a writer. He steals money from his mother, is cruel and indifferent toward her, tells his brother he’s such a loser he should kill himself (and he then tries), worships only authors who have killed themselves, doesn’t care about anyone or anything, including her, until for some reason near the end he tells her he really likes her (and it’s not believable at all). Yep, that’s my idea of a dream man, how about you, ladies? The sad thing is that most of us have had boyfriends like this in the past, and we continue to be encouraged to do so by films like these, which teach us that if we are just patient and loving enough, the guy will come around. Fuck you. Liv Tyler’s character is a saintly one, of course, works as a nurse in the hospital, talks about how much she likes helping people, pastes a smile over the frown on Jim’s poster of Ernest Hemingway, and has an adorable 5-year-old son to give her the saintly single mother aura. Oh, plus she’s slutty and screws Jim within hours of meeting him. A whore and madonna, all in one, how original!

That said, the sold-out hipster crowd at the screening last night loved the film, and I’m not surprised. It’s written for their demographic. And I do admit to laughing out loud in several places in the film. It is entertaining. First-time screenwriter James Strouse has some writing chops, and I look forward to seeing what he does once he gets past the twentysomething male cliches.

11 Responses to “IFFBoston – Lonesome Jim”

  1. guy
    April 22nd, 2005 | 3:22 pm

    that’s like that wanted poster i found at MIt. All I need to know about that I don’t want to see the movie is Liv Tyler. I did like “Heavy”, but I was very young then. Today I would only watch a movie with her in it if I get paid $250 or more to watch it. Plus what’s up with taking gross barbie style actors and put then in indie movies? (see: Jude Law and N. Watts in huckabees) I want ugly actors in indie movies!

  2. snjoseph
    April 22nd, 2005 | 9:08 pm

    There was a story in the news today about how girls raised on fairy tales like “Rapunzel” or “Beauty and the Beast” are more likely to end up in abusive relationships when they grow up because they have deep-seated illusions about being able to change men or produce love through sheer patience and suffering.

    It’s worse for women of course, but these sorts of fantasies are bad for the fellas too, because they fetishize not having your shit together. So you get a lot of young men who think they’re attractive and “deep” just because they’re losers in some important respect. And while, at some point, most women will date losers–most losers won’t date women.

  3. cynthia rockwell
    April 23rd, 2005 | 4:59 am

    guy–yeah i was thinking of that poster you found. and i agree, the infiltration of pretty people into indie film sucks. although in huckabees i think that was warranted, they were playing vacuous assholes after all. i thought ‘heavy’ was pretty good by the way. and it had the ending that lonesome jim should have had. snjoseph–where is this news story? i’d like to read it. it’s not really a new topic though, i recall it being the subject of some dialogue in that whit stillman disco movie, i can’t remember the title. they used lady and the tramp as their example though.

  4. snjoseph
    April 23rd, 2005 | 5:12 pm
  5. cinetrix
    April 23rd, 2005 | 7:25 pm

    You mean The Last Days of Disco?

    Hey, speaking of 20something boy angst, did you get to see Andrew Bujalski’s new flick? He’s a sweetheart–met him when he came down to screen Funny Ha Ha here in December.

  6. cynthia rockwell
    April 23rd, 2005 | 7:29 pm

    thanks. i’m not sure they prove much causality there, but there’s definitely something to it. the women in non-abusive relationships know the story of cinderella as well, it’s not like they were completely shielded from it all their lives, and the fact that they didn’t identify with such submissive characters likely says more about their family upbringing or other factors. the fairy tale myths are pervasive though, and certainly play a part. i think they underestimate the power of film and media, though.

  7. cynthia rockwell
    April 23rd, 2005 | 7:31 pm

    that’s the one! and yes i just got back from seeing bujalski’s new movie, mutual appreciation, which was utterly fantastic. i’ll write more about it (and jem cohen’s also utterly fantastic “chain”) soon.

  8. Michael Griffiths
    May 1st, 2005 | 2:20 pm

    I’m a teenager, and I have a bunch (7) of girl friends who went to see Garden State.

    I didn’t like it. Too, how shall we say, depressing.

    However, they all loved it. Raved. Bought the soundtrack. Loved the characters, the weird plot, the washed-up and regurgitated themes, and the happy ending.

    Male fantasies? Possibly. But certainly female too, these days.

    Now that’s scarier, isn’t it?

  9. Michael Griffiths
    May 1st, 2005 | 2:21 pm


    Is there any way to enable or in comments? Reading a single block of text can be …hard.

  10. cynthia rockwell
    May 1st, 2005 | 3:19 pm

    it’s true, the fantasy is so ubiquitous that it really is as much a female fantasy as a male one.

    as for adding spaces in the comments, that is a perennial problem that i’ve yet to be able to fix. using html tags for space breaks works, but that’s a pain in the ass.

  11. joel
    May 3rd, 2005 | 6:15 am

    So, lets assume that one is a twentysomething depressed loser, where does one go from there? Even if one is for the most part a nice person, it is still a difficult groove to move from.