Friday, November 20, 2009

Smiley Face (2007, Araki)

For Jane F. (Anna Faris), the pothead Gregg Araki’s Smiley Face (2007) is built around, being stoned is being trapped in the world of ultimate, violent immediacy. There is no escaping one’s fears, but there are no qualifications to one’s bliss, either. These two extremes come and go, and nowhere is the fleeting nature of Jane’s experience more visible than in her multiple, sudden realizations of tasks at hand. Her “plan of action”, put together painstakingly, holds no more water than The Communist Manifesto she clutches to and, finally, scatters into the wind from the top of a Venice, CA, ferris wheel. Each task gets obliterated and/or forgotten every time yet another one resurfaces in Jane’s mind. She’s in the middle of one thing, and then – wham! – a sudden flash hits her: “I was supposed to do that other thing first!”. So she stops whatever she’s doing and jumps into another mode of immediate action. In that, Jane is awfully like Tilda Swinton’s character in Eric Zonca’s terrific Julia (2008), who also reasoned solely with her fingertips, and had similarly debased sense of long-term planning. The present and the fantasy are everything in Smiley Face – Marx and Engels would have enjoyed it.

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