When I first discovered Bravo TV it was during college. I didn’t have cable for most of my undergraduate studies but my last year we got it and I found Bravo. At the time it was more of an art network than what it is today. PBS with commercials, it what it always seemed like and it is through watching Bravo that I saw Living in Oblivion, which is a great movie about filmmaking. During this period there was another movie that kept airing about some kids. I knew nothing about it and wasn’t that interested so the channel got changed.
That movie was Over the Edge, directed by Jonathan Kaplan, and it’s about a large group of kids in a planned community in the late 70’s. These kids have little to do so they occupy themselves with drinking, smoking, vandalism and occasionally dropping acid before art class. On the eve of a meeting with developers, the kids tear the town apart in an act of rebellion triggered by the shooting death of another of the kids, Richie White (Matt Dillon).
What I liked: Movies where kids act more like the kids I remember and less like the idyllic childhoods depicted in many movies about kids of a similar age are rare and Over the Edge is one of them. These kids try to get drunk and spend a lot of time hanging out and getting into trouble. While the dialogue was off the situations were realistic and interesting. Some of the kids were good in their performances, they seemed like junior high kids, which is difficult to do in a movie. I also really like Harry Northup in this movie. He’s one of those old character actors that steals scenes.
The best thing about this movie was a freeze-frame in the middle of the film. It’s a shot of the main character Carl (Michael Eric Kramer) running towards the camera. The freeze happens in a Medium CU and fades into the next shot. One doesn’t see freeze-frame shots in modern cinema because they went out of fashion in the late 70’s/early 80’s, but this one was effective. Maybe it’ll make a comeback.
What I didn’t like: The story is all over the place and riddled with exposition that sticks out. For every moment that feels like a realistic look at 14-15 year old kids there is a moment where people, adults and kids, are saying things that people never say. It’s a huge problem.
The same day I watched Bubble, directed by Steven Soderbergh. This is one of the movies that was released simultaneously in theaters, on DVD and HDnet. I obviously watched it on DVD a few years later but I’m glad I did.
Bubble is the story of the friendship between two coworkers, Martha (Debbie Doeberenier) and Kyle (Dustin James Ashley), working in a doll factory in Ohio. The arrival of Rose (Misty Wilkins), a younger woman with issues, turns the relationship in unsuspecting ways and eventually into an offbeat murder mystery.
What I liked: The film is closer to a social realist film than it is a murder mystery and I like that. Using non-actors found in the area, Soderbergh shows what many people in this country experience in their daily lives and I appreciate that. I grow tired of films where people are rich or criminals and never go to a job, at least not one the audience would see. The non-actors are very good and upon listening to the director’s commentary on the disc I understand how he got better performances out of them than other films I’ve seen with non-actors.
The end of the film is moving and one look at at newspaper makes one realize that it isn’t so strange that a person would react the same as Martha.
What I didn’t like: There are a couple of shots that irritate me. Things that are “wrong” filmmaking but they do work in this film. It’s an example of when studying film can lead to distraction. Pretty minor though. The pacing in the earliest sections of the film was too slow and it made the ending feel like it wrapped up too quickly. There is an argument between Rose and her ex-boyfriend Jake (K. Smith) that felt a little like a poor improvisation in a student film. Didn’t take me out of the film though.
I thought of rating this a little lower than I did but it stuck with me for a few days and that’s always a good thing.