Det jeg lærte av ‘The Wackness’

Helt siden jeg for første gang virkelig underla meg den magien som er Bergen Internasjonale Filmfestival (BIFF), har mitt forhold til festivalen vært reguleres av noen klare prioriteringer. For det første skal jeg ideelt sett vite så lite som mulig om festivalfilmene før jeg ser dem. Dette går tilbake til den gang jeg ved en lykkelig tilfeldighet så Greg Arakis Mysterious Skin under BIFF 2004. Jeg visste overhodet ingenting om filmen, blant annet fordi det altså ikke var meningen at jeg skulle se den, men resultatet ble at den gjorde et om mulig enda sterkere inntrykket. Prioriteringer nummer to er at jeg skal styre unna førpremierer. BIFF er og skal være stede for de unike filmopplevelsene, de filmene som du ikke ville sett hvis det ikke hadde vært for at du var i en kinosal i Bergen akkurat da.

Men hvilken lærdom kan vi da trekke av at 2006-festivalens beste film var førpremieren Shortbus? Den er veldig enkel: En god film er god, uansett hvilken status den har. Og på en måte er det nokså fjollete å sette flmer opp mot hverandre på den måten som mine to prioriteringer gjør. Riktignok er Shortbus en slik film jeg ville kjøpt billett til også når den fikk vanlig kinopremiere (det gjorde jeg da også), men det betyr ikke nødvendigvis at det var borkastet å se den under BIFF. Opplevelsen var istedet så god at den hele min oppfattelse av festivalen som helhet.

Men i tillegg kommer det faktum at den blinde troen på at det bare er de eksklusive BIFF-filmene som fortjener oppmerksomhet i seg selv har flere fallgruver. For det første er det en åpenbar risiko for at alle de merkelige kunstfilmene man tvinger seg igjennom for å kunne felle en dom over juryens vinner av hovedkonkurranse, ender opp med å være langt mindre tilfredsstillende enn den førpremieren du ikke får sett likevel. Og her er vi ved poenget nummer to: Forestillingen om at en førpremieren som vises under BIFF egentlig bare er en film som venter på at du ser den en annen gang, er misforstått. Det er bare under BIFF du kan tillate deg å prioritere film foran alt annet. Derfor har du aldri noen garanti for at du faktisk får sett alle de interessante filmene som du skyver bakover i køen fordi du istedet pålegger deg selv å se en iransk komedie om en stein.

Alt dette leder fram til at jeg er overstrømmende lykkelig for at jeg brøt med mine egne regler, og satte av tid under årets festival til den amerikanske komedien The Wackness. Det gjenstår å se om denne erfaringen forandrer komsum-mønsteret mitt under neste års festival, men nedenfor finner du uansett min anmeldelse av filmen, igjen på engelsk:
______________________________________

Josh Peck plays Luke, an 18 year old hiphop-loving slacker, who uses the summer of 1994 to ramp up his pot dealing, in order to (secretly) help out with his family’s financial troubles. During the summer months he pays regular visits to his client, Dr. Squires (Sir Ben Kingsley), whose daughter Stephanie (Olivia Thirlby) he falls madly in love with. As it turns out, Squires himself seems to have come to a fork in the road, and as the two them try to make sense of what their respective futures hold for them, they bond over a common love for music and marihuana. However, such brief plot summaries tend to do severe injustice to any movie, and The Wackness is no exception. For instance, you might get the impression that this is merely another somehat quirky stoner movie, and nothing could be further from the truth. I absolutely hate stoner movies (Dude, Where’s My Car, Smiley Face etc), and The Wackness is no stoner. The drugs certainly help ease the relationship between Luke and Squires, but as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that it’s only a minor part of it. If Squires at first is mostly a way for Luke to get to his daughter, their relationship soons develops into one of mutual dependence. Luke needs Squires to keep his mind straight, and Squires needs Luke to inject some new impulses into his tired life. At one point Stephanie mockingly asks Luke if he and her father are gay together, and I get what she’s meaning. Although (thankfully) there’s no physical attraction between the two men, the portrayal of their relationship is sufficiently nuanced as to make us believe that it’s perfectly natural for them to confide in each other.

More than a stoner movie then, The Wackness is a coming-of-age story and a love story. Though slackery, Peck manages to make Luke seem like someone a girl like Stephanie could actually fall for. He is far more insecure than he seems at first glance, and that’s probably what makes him so charming. Watching from outside the fictional universe, and not needing to know exactly what kind of guy he is, I fell in love with him before Stephanie did (there really is something about that voice), of course, but when she finally does, it adds up nicely. For a while, at least. The first-love-ness of the whole thing carries with it a lot of emotional intensity, but to me The Wackness stays clear of the worst cliches, because, at critical moments, it never fails to back off a bit and bring things closer to earth, by injecting a joke or quirk. I guess many people will hate it for that, but considering it never gets cynical about it, I think it’s a wise move.

Also, The Wackness is the closest we’ve come to an ode to the early nineties since Cameron Crowe’s Singles, and I suspect that movie earned its status as a tribute to the grunge generation more from the cultural significance later attributed to it, than from actually wanting to be seen as an ode to the early nineties. It’s hard not to see The Wackness as a more explicit argument for why it was intesting to come of age at that time, particularly in 1994; early on Luke, makes fun of people who listen to Kriss Kross (giggle) one week, only to switch to Pearl Jam the next; people cling to their gameboys; emotional distress could still easily be attributed to Kurt Cobain’s death; Boys II Men is a household name and Method Man, as a kind of intertextual reference, plays Luke’s supplier.

Some critics have said that The Wackness is too preoccupied with being a kind of 1994 period piece, but that’s actually one of the things I like most about it. I was nine years old back then, and I actually listened to Kriss Kross (not Pearl Jam, though). I never ever though they should come up as a pop culture reference again, but wham, there you have it. It’s like the 1990’s movie version of Everybody Hates Chris. That has to count for something.

Finally, Josh Peck actually reminds me somewhat of Adrian Grenier, who plays Vince Chase on HBO’s consistently brilliant comedy Entourage. Chase, of course, is modeled on the experiences of one-time rapper Marky Mark, perhaps better known these days as Mark Wahlberg. While probably not an intertextual reference as such, at least it’s a mildly amusing coincidence.

________________________________________________

AKTUELL FILM:

The Wackness hadde norsk kinopremiere 14. november.
**

Jørgen Lien

Legg igjen en kommentar

Din e-postadresse vil ikke bli publisert. Obligatoriske felt er merket med *

*