Saturday, June 24

Oh, to Be a Luddite

After my aforementioned recorder mishap, the night of Friday (June 23) was apparently destined for technical difficulties. During "Ira & Abby," the sound went wonky during a Fred Willard love scene (yes, you read correctly), and then I had to wait 45 minutes to catch "Gretchen" because of a projection problems. Intermittent audio, video and power problems plagued the screening and subsequent Q&A for the rest of the evening. LAFF is still working out the kinks after moving to its new venue in Westwood after relocating from the Sunset Strip.

"Gretchen"
written and directed by Steve Collins

To be honest, I've never liked the name Gretchen because it sounds so much like "wretched." That's an accurate description for the title character's mindset, which writer/director Steve Collins exaggerates into a melodramatically deadpan epic of teenage purple prose proportions. Courtney Davis channels the awkward, face-scrunching yet lovable antics of a younger Mary Lynn Rajskub to tap into 17-year-old Gretchen's angst.

Everything is weighty in her teenage mind which translates into swelling "Moonlight Sonata"-style scores, uncomfortable.quiet.pause-filled.dialogue, garish costuming and hair that makes Donald's Trump combover look chic (especially one wig worn by "Office Space" star Stephen Root in a surprise appearance). All these overblown, offbeat expressions, however, come together in a heartbreakingly sweet way that makes you cringe and laugh at the same time.

It's difficult to describe Collins' visual and narrative style, which must be experienced to be believed. He makes our grotesque emotions visual, and after a while, you realize that it's not such an exaggeration after all.

Smells Like Teen Spirit

  • How Davis found her Inner-Gretchen:
    "After I put my hair in the 'twin turbos,' wore the high turtlenecks and small leggings, I was pretty much there. And Steve would often tell me, 'You hate yourself. You hate yourself. You hate yourself.'"

  • Collins' Use of Long, Obviously Fake Wigs on His Actors:
    "I like hair. It's a wasted tool in filmmaking."

    -- HN



    Saturday, June 24

    Watching Indie Films Is Patriotic