I’ve broken my 3-film-maximum-per-day rule again and saw four films at MIFF yesterday. Two films about teenagers, a documentary and a mockumentary.
The highlight of the day was the French-Canadian film I Killed My Mother about a 16-year-old boy’s turbulent relationship with his single mother. Despite being underlit, I enjoyed this comedy/drama for being so funny, perceptive and painfully familiar. The mother is irritating and the boy is frequently obnoxious and yet I felt sympathy for them both, strongly recognising the dynamics creating the conflict between the two of them. I think a lot of people will also identify with the situations that are present in this film either as parents or as children. It’s the sort of film that you probably shouldn’t see with somebody you are related to.
The other film I saw dealing with being a teenager was The Myth of the American Sleepover, an American indi teen film that seemed determined to not be a teen film. Like so many films of the genre – from American Graffiti to Dazed and Confused to even Can’t Hardly Wait - it is an ensemble film with multiple narratives set over one night. So determined to demythologise the world of teenagers and to focus on the mundane and unfulfilled aspects of their lives, the film’s restraint and reliance on non-professional actors ends up creating something that often feels stilted and unintentionally absurd rather than naturalistic.
Frankly, I’d rather see films about kids who are angry, rebellious and have something to say. That’s all delivered in the documentary Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam. The film is at pains to state that taqwacore is a diverse movement that, like punk and Islam, is frequently misunderstood, vilified and misrepresented. The most general description may be that it is designed to create something good out of pissing off both conservative American and conservative Islam. Despite coming dangerously close at times to glorifying a rather contrived view of punk culture, the doco ultimately achieves its desire to demonstrate the power of music to empower and bring people together. It’s energy is very infectious.
Being a very big fan of director Shane Meadows and actor Paddy Considine, I was very much looking forward to their collaboration on the improvised mockumentary Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee, where Considine plays a roady who is promoting a new rapper. Even at 70 minutes this still felt like a drawn out single joke that should have really just been a one off sketch. Plenty of people in the audience I saw this with seemed to be having a good time but it did nothing for me. I suppose I can’t like them all!