Reverse Shot, my and your favorite online film journal and swaggering cinephilic state of mind, is currently unveiling its 29th issue, Stuck in the Middle, a consideration of middlebrow “movies for adults,” once a Hollywood staple and now the purview of indie (or “indie”) filmmakers.
Contributors were asked to pick an emblematic aughties indie and were given an 80s-90s studio drama to pair it with; I requested The Squid and the Whale and was presented with a Warner Archive DVD of Men Don’t Leave, the second (and final) film directed by Risky Business auteur Paul Brickman, and the first screen role for Chris O’Donnell (pictured, in a laundry-stretched Smiths t-shirt). I wrote a little bit about the genre’s evolving comfort with—or maybe mortification over—the body:
For Baumbach, family is defined as the people who are witness to the humiliating moments stricken from your public persona, and so this extraordinarily close-quartered movie is coated with the embarrassing secretions of the polished, published, and articulate. At the family meeting where 16-year-old Walt (Jesse Eisenberg) and 12-year-old Frank (Owen Kline) already know their parents are going to announce their divorce, the moment is drawn out agonizingly: father Bernard (Jeff Daniels) and the boys waiting on the couch for mother Joan (Laura Linney) to come out of the bathroom, which she does, announced by a flush and greeted with crinkled noses. “Mom!” “Sorry.”
Read the rest, in which I really get into the subject of splooge, here. And read the others here. Regular readers of The L may be especially curious to hear our own Michael Joshua Rowin explain how Falling from Grace, directed by and starring John Cougar Mellencamp, is a better movie than I’m Not There.