Films I’ve Watched: Wendy and Lucy (watched 1/10/09)

Hooo Boy. I finally went to a movie theater for this one. Usually, I don’t like seeing a movie at the theater, and I was reminded in spades last night why.

The movie is Wendy and Lucy. If you’ve not heard, it is the latest by writer and director Kelly Reichardt.  You know her work if you saw Old Joy, a meandering and contemplative film based in Oregon.  This was basically the same, except waaaay sadder.wendy-and-lucy1

Now I live in Oregon. Portland to be specific, but yea, not too many films based around here. So I guess people in these parts get REALLY EXCITED to see things they recognize from their own life on a big screen. I know it’s hard not to. I love watching Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt or The Birds specifically because I grew up in Sonoma County where they take place and I drove pasts all those locations. Wowee.

So this review is about going to the movies, and a little etiquette lesson.

Etiquette number one: In a not crowded, wide open theater, don’t sit directly next to me. I hate that. We got seats nicely in the center, and then BAM! we were surrounded. This group comes in and decides those four seats right next to the six-foot-two grumpy looking motherfucker were THE seats for them. ARRGGHH.

Etiquette lesson two: Chew with your fucking mouth shut! I love popcorn as much as the next guy, but why do you have to love it and share it with the rest of us? Close the trap. It’s gross. Next item.

Etiquette Lesson three: Stop talking during previews. Why do people think that since this isn’t the actual film just yet, they can keep going at full volume? In my opinion, the lights are down, the projector is rolling, shut the fuck up.

Etiquette Lesson four: Please save your questions for the end. I have NEVER once in a movie felt compelled to turn to my companion and ask them anything. The way I see it, they are trying to watch a movie! Save it. When you reference the movie afterwards, I’m sure they will know what part you’re talking about. What is so important you have to share it now? And by the way, I can hear you whispering. We all can.

So, this film, Wendy and Lucy, is a quiet film. Not much dialogue, NO music, just a girl who breaks down in Oregon on her way to Alaska, and loses her dog. And walks around for an hour looking for said dog. That’s about it. It’s hard enough to sit through something this slow and silent without the help of narrators sitting all around you.

Case in point. The woman next to me could not go five minutes without murmuring or moaning in recognition of the locales or props. At one point Wendy, she’s the human in the film, is arrested for shoplifting. Now it’s bad enough we have to watch ten minutes worth of her sitting in a jail cell, completely motionless, but when the form she signs is shown, the woman reads OUT LOUD what it says on the form. What. The. Fuck.

Near Portland is Washington County. OK. We all know that up here. Accepted. Now, when “Washington County” shows up at the top of this form, the woman next to me has to declare it for all, in case we missed the 50 foot letters on the big screen. I actually said in the same tone, “we all read it.” Though she must not have heard me, cause she kept doing it.

Oh look, a tri-Met bus!

Wow, it’s a parking sign just like the one on my street!

Hey, I recognize that taxi company!


We all knew that going into the film, stop acting so surprised. Jesus H. I thought I was really going to lose it.

At one point, we see a guy reading a copy of the book, Sometimes A Great Notion. Now, I have the exact paperback edition the guy was reading, I even have a copy of the Paul Newman film based on the book. And I kept it to myself. Why? Cause I was trying to watch a goddamned movie. This woman next to me has to say the entire title of the book OUT LOUD AGAIN for everyone’s benefit. We all saw it. We can all read, the words are bigger than my entire body, but this bitch thought maybe her dumbass friends were going to miss another reference to Oregon so she just had to narrate the fucking thing for us.  I’m about to scream at this whore!wendyandlucy

Why can’t people just go to a film, sit and watch, appreciate the art on screen, go home to the privacy of their squalor, and THEN talk about the film? Couldn’t that lady have waited to express her interest in the book title, or the Washington County reference, or any of the other stuff she recognized, until later? Why? Why?

So the movie was good. The actress who played Wendy, Michelle Williams, ought to win some awards for her performance, seeing as how she was in every minute of the film and had almost no support technically, from the score or the camera. Will Oldham has a brief cameo as Icky, and gives a hilarious monologue about King Salmon fishing in Alaska. And Lucy the Dog, also featured in Reichardt’s Old Joy, is cute as Hell and very well mannered. But I could not feel sorry for a character who shoplifts with over five hundred dollars in her pocket, or loses her dog after not telling anyone she left it tied up before said shoplifting, or who ignores a simple oil change and loses her car.

These are just common sense things. If you are driving from Indiana to Alaska, get a fucking oil change. If you have a budget that included dog food, buy the food. If your dog is tied up outside the store you are getting arrested in, tell someone before you have already gotten in the cruiser. I don’t know.  Just makes me want to never go to a theater again.



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