music friday
hanna (joe wright, 2011)

the dirties (matt johnson, 2013)

This is the eleventh film I have watched in "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2020-21", "A 33 week long challenge where the goal each week is to watch a previously unseen feature length film from a specified category." This is the 6th annual challenge, and my second time participating (last year can be found at "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2019-20"). Week 11 is called YMS Recommendations Week:

Adam Johnston, AKA YourMovieSucks on YouTube, is a big factor in my appreciation of films. However you feel about his work, it can't be denied that YMS recommends a large amount of obscure and foreign cinema from the past couple decades. As my small tribute to him, this week we're taking a look at the films on his Top 10 lists, though they're usually somewhere in the 20s or 30s. If you aren't familiar, check out some of his videos (including the Top 10s) here.

This week's challenge is to watch a previously unseen film recommended in one of YMS' Top 10 videos. You can find lists of these films here.

Can't say I've ever heard of Adam Johnston, but his lists were interesting. Can't say I'd heard of The Dirties, either, and it was also interesting. The primary force behind the film is Matt Johnson, who directed, wrote, and starred. The Dirties is filled with clever touches, made on the cheap and not hiding the fact. Johnston stars as Matt, who with his friend Owen (Owen Williams), is making a low-budget movie. Matt and Owen are in high school, and they share a love of movies. They are also both victims of school bullies, and the movie they are making (yes, it's called The Dirties) is about two high school guys being bullied. It's all quite circular, and for an hour or so, it's hard to take seriously ... in fact, Johnson doesn't seem very serious himself, and it's a low-key affair with just enough entertainment to keep us involved. The movie then takes a dark turn that felt a bit abrupt to me. Johnson suddenly gets very serious, and I think we're supposed to believe this darkness makes something more of The Dirties than just a low-budget romp. It accomplishes this, but The Dirties is never a great movie. I don't think it can hold all of the suggestive meaning Johnson wants to offer.

The film uses a found-footage format which is OK if you don't think about it too much (it's unclear how much we are meant to believe in the format, since at the least there is an unmentioned cameraperson at work). Like I say, it's clever ... the character of Matt would like this movie, and not just because he is the star. It's effectively nerdy, and it carries an anti-bullying message, although that message goes awry about the time Matt starts reading up on Columbine.

Among the other choices people made for the Challenge were 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, and Caché. I couldn't pick them since they don't qualify as "previously unseen", but in the end, I probably would have better spent my time rewatching 4 Months.


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