Monday, June 4, 2012

Jason rewatches THE COLOR WHEEL

I saw this back at Indiefest, so let's look back at what I said at the time:

And then I ended the night with THE COLOR WHEEL. I hate saddling a film with the label "mumblecore," particularly if I don't know whether the filmmaker embraces the term or not (personally, I think it is poorly defined and too often used dismissively.) I will say that it's black and white, shot on 16 mm, and mostly features the two main characters talking to each other--take from that what you will. Colin (director/co-writer Alex Ross Perry) is going on a road trip with his sister JR (Caren Altman) to help her move stuff out of her professor/ex-lover's apartment. They joke with each other with a significant amount of hostility, and they run into some pretty strange characters (the Christian hotel clerk was particularly creepy), have a lot of awkward times, and...well I won't spoil it beyond saying the ending is pretty controversial.
 I think this is the type of movie where you have to decide quickly if you care about the characters, because if you don't care about them the movie would just be tedious. And I have a feeling that it might come down to just my mood at the exact moment I start watching. Luckily, I was in the mood to enjoy the company of these characters. I loved the playful, natural, affectionate hostility between JR and Colin. Perhaps because I have a lot of siblings (I'm one of six kids) that I found their relationship accurate and endearing. Everyone with a sibling knows exactly how to push his or her buttons, everyone with a sibling knows their buttons will get pushed, and we all know how to avoid falling for the button-pushing. Most importantly, we all know that as hostile as we can get with each other, family counts on family, even when some family members can't really be counted on (disclaimer: this comment is in reaction to the movie, not to my family, every member of which is absolutely perfect.)

Yeah, I'll still stand by this review. And obviously I liked it enough to see it again. Plus Alex Ross Perry was there with his writing partner/co-star Caren Altman, and they introduced the movie. Unfortunately, there wasn't a big enough crowd at the late show I saw for them to return for a Q&A. Instead they went to karaoke, and I would've joined them (not to sing, but to drink, talk, and hang out) but I had another movie to run off to (of course.)

Now I just want to add one thing I noticed the second time around and this will get a little spoiler-y. So stop reading if you haven't seen the movie and care about spoilers. There's a scene early on when they're talking about how Colin went on a trip with their parents and JR wasn't invited (this is actually a recurring theme--at one point she wasn't invited to their aunt's funeral because they thought she would be too much of a downer.) Clearly Colin wants her to know that he's their parent's favorite child. And she complains that she should be the favorite, and as she's listing the reasons she includes something along the lines of "I was their only child." And of course Colin calls bullshit on that, you don't get to always be the only child just because you once were. Clearly the simple interpretation is that she was the only child for just a couple of years until Colin was born. But I thought of a different interpretation this time--what if she is their only biological child, and Colin was actually adopted? Well, that would make the ending incest scene a little less creepy, but it would make all the times when Colin is their favorite child sting so much more.

Running Time: 83 minutes
My Total Minutes: 286,856
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