When I was a young man, I loved long movies. Like doing tequila shots with the prettiest girl in town, I relished the three hour run times of Heat, GoodFellas and the Godfather flicks. Well, the first two Godfather movies. Don’t worry, Sofia Coppola became a fine director and she was put in a tough place. The 178 minute run time of Meet Joe Black never even phased me. That was a non-violent romance fantasy that substituted bullets and blood for high fashion and lavish homes. It was one of those flicks that, to prove my masculinity and sensitivity to the ladies, I trumpeted my support for. Nonetheless, no one, not even Brad Pitt and Claire Forlani, are attractive enough to look at for three hours. When you are in your twenties, however, you foolishly think that you will always be at the beginning of Happy Hour. Sadly, you will soon look up from your warm drink and realize it is creeping up on closing time and the bar is half empty.
I am in my forties now and the thought of sitting through a three hour flick is about as inviting as the proposition of an angioplasty. I am starting to think that every muscle pain is a coronary and aching stomach some demonic form of cancer. I start to feel the same things Walter White experienced at the beginning of Breaking Bad as , I believe, that show was about how he dealt with his wasted talent. Quality of the flicks aside, I see the running times on some of these newer films and I think that perhaps I should watch them while laying in a coffin? I have been woefully unprepared for so much in my life, I want to be expedient when I die. It would be nice to help things go smoothly for family and friends while I am on my way to my final resting place. I have sometimes been a real bastard and they deserve a break.
Macon Blair’s quirky, violent and excellent I Don’t Feel at Home in this World Anymore is about how uninspired and inconsequential we all sometimes feel as we wade through the muck that life spews from its Karmic asshole. Our existences are fragile and mundane, death lurks around every blandly painted corner. Like blindly attending an insurance seminar given by a heavily armed and inebriated misanthrope, Blair’s film shows us how the monotony can be shattered by a brutal and haphazard encounter.
It also clocks in at a brisk 93 minutes. Surely, you will live to see the end of the movie. Right?
A very good and spectacularly plain Melanie Lynskey plays Ruth, a nurse’s assistant who is tired of caring for despicable patients and picking steaming dog turds off her sickly lawn. Most of us need something to get through the day. Some people, like this handsome writer, take to occasional self medication. Others need help from prescriptions. Ruth needs a little of both. She comes home at the end of a crappy day to find her house has been robbed.
When it becomes apparent to her that the police will do little more than fill out a report so she can hand it off to her insurance company, Ruth canvasses her neighborhood only to find that those who live on her street are equally as apathetic. Fate teams Ruth up with her quirky neighbor, Tony, played by Elijah Wood, maturing into one of our better indie film stars. Despite his small stature, Wood can do nearly everything a director needs done in front of the camera. Wood has had his LOTR tentpole picture stardom, I hope he sticks with flicks like this. However, far be it from me to stop a person from going for the big pay day and work for Michael Bay or loathsome waterboy for the DNC, Joss Whedon.
This is America.
Blair’s screenplay allows Ruth and Tony’s friendship to grow quickly, but in a way that feels organic. There is none of the frantic hitting of plot points laid out by big studio marketing gurus who you would think never had any interaction with human beings outside an ornate conference room. Unlike the recent films of one Mr. Judd Apatow, it is nice when we can relate to some of the main characters in a movie.
Utilizing one of the more deranged and fitting character introductions an audience will see, we meet the young Christian(Devon Graye). He is like a stick figure in a creepy drawing hanging on a disturbed child’s wall. Christian rolls with mentor Marshall(David Yow) who almost looks like he could be the publicist for the family in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Rounding out the trio of thieves is Dez, played by the stunning Jane Levy as some kind of New Age witch who might live off opiates and the blood of children. These are the three that robbed Ruth’s home and, as sure as dirty socks can cause ringworm, we know that there will be a confrontation at the end.
Blair, like his frequent collaborator Jeremy Saulnier, really seems to understand the sort of rustic criminal element that moves through the fringes of society the way a starved shark patrols a polluted lagoon in desperate need of food for survival. A cornered animal is a dangerous animal and the three violent criminals that Blair has concocted in his imaginative mind prove they can be as deadly as any wild beast when they encounter people who cross their paths.
Christine Woods, from HBO’s Hello Ladies, has a really funny turn as the trophy wife of an obnoxious and wealthy character played by the indispensable Robert Longstreet. Longstreet is one of those actors that has the ability to steal many of the scenes he is in. At this point in his career, the insulted lead actor police have charged character actor Longstreet with 2nd degree larceny several times. Don’t look for Longstreet to rehabilitate himself. The last 29 minutes of this movie get very dark and violent. If you can handle the gore you will be treated to an entertaining movie that asks just what the fuck are we doing on this planet, anyway?