Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dia Sokol's SORRY, THANKS: Disaffected youth ages and more or less mumblecores

Watching young people grow up (and, yes, I know that everything's relative about that word, young) can be engrossing or not -- depending on the script, director and the actors on view. A pretty good example of this genre (Mumblecore division, San Francisco chapter) is SORRY, THANKS, via Dia Sokol (shown below), which had its NY premiere in BAMcinemaFEST last year, has been seen at SXSW and is now available On-Demand from Sundance Selects. Boasting a few trenchant lines and some clever or thoughtful moments threaded throughout, and persuasive (if not particularly interesting) performances, the film -- Ms Sokol's first full-length project as director/co-writer (with Lauren Veloski, who also produced) --  takes a half-dozen characters and maybe a half dozen more of their friends and stirs them all together to see what develops.

Not much, as it turns out.  (This is contemporary slice-of-life, you understand.) Not, at least, in terms of plot development.  A young woman, Kira (Kenya Miles, shown at bottom, right), wakes up in the apartment of a young man, Max (Wiley Wiggins), who is still asleep.  She leaves.  He is romantically attached (and for quite some time) to another; she has recently unattached from her main squeeze. Their paths cross again, and again.  That's it.  The movie doesn't conclude; it simply stops.  Well, slice of life.

Between the lines -- and scenes -- however, other things occur. We meet and grow rather fond of Max's girlfriend Sara (Ia Hernandez, above, left), though we do want to kick her in the ass and say, "Listen to your aunt, girl!".  (The aunt has not so subtly tried to warn her niece off of Max -- in Spanish yet!)  We also spend some time with Max (above, right) at his job as underling in the office of a Senator, probably State government, rather than U.S. Congress.  (If it's the latter, we're in worse trouble than even I had imagined.) Actually, these workplace scenes, though played for mostly laughs, have a fishy and unreal sense about them.

Some of the conversation -- which is what distinguishes mumblecore and from which, in part, it takes its name -- is rather nice: two characters, while painting a wall, discuss the pros and cons of maintaining relationships with one's exes.  Other examples are not so hot: a twosome talking about a sudden move to Italy and what fun might be had there, a pair of friends discussing cloud formations.  Much of this appears to be vamping, and a little of that goes a long way.  These people don't seem invested in much or passionate about anything.  That's part of the point, I guess (the film is billed as an "unromantic comedy"), but after awhile, we begin to wonder why we're hanging around.

The acting is OK, although Mr Wiggins (above, left), while not without his charm, does play the goofiness of Max a bit thickly. My companion wandered in during the film, watched for two minutes, and then asked, re Wiggins, "Is he playing a 'special needs' character? "  No, but I had to admit that this did not seem too far off-base.  Ms Miles is alert and lively, Ms Hernandez makes a proper, put-upon doormat, and the rest of cast (including the fellow generally considered the founder of M'core -- Andrew Bujalski) have their moments in the sun -- of which there is a surprising amount, considering the film was shot in San Francisco.

You can find Sorry, Thanks On-Demand from many TV reception providers.  Click here to learn if it's available in your area.

All above images are from the film itself -- except for that of Ms Sokol by Alan Parker, a New York-based photographer and stylist, which comes courtesy of Flavorwire.

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