There is no cinematic achievement here, but I insist that you must see it. The situations are laughable, and there is no art in the framing and structure, but that’s little of Bujalski’s concern, such restriction is actually his intent. He works in a Cassavetean tradition, and this is an early work so the experiments abound. Cassavetes was well deep into narrative dimensionning by the time he made “Opening Night”…Bujalski here, second feature, has a fixed interest in one thing. But no one else does. So this is necessary. Not only for your understanding of cinema, but for your personal growth as well.
If you’ve ever looked at yourself, you will see this. And this is its sweet reward. Despite the lack of everything else cinematic, we have a honey that is so rich, so vital, that we cannot dismiss its pot. Forget cinema as the art here. Somebody stumbled on an ineffable insight and decided to record it.
There is no story. Some drama about a possibly unfaithful girlfriend and disloyal best friend, but in the scheme of things it is only an excuse for our workman to mine his gold. The situations actually seem petty compared to our regular notions of dramatic staging.
So you must look elsewhere. Here, everything is in the acting, or lack of it. We have Kate Dollenmayer once again, who is there precisely to bring this point home. Watching her in “Funny Ha Ha”, and then watching her scene here is like gaining a new understanding of yourself and the world.
We have a long line of so-called transcendent presences in various movies. Muriel Hemmingway comes to mind, in “Manhanttan”, Anne Wiamzesky in “Balthazar”, amongst others. Well, imagine a world where everyone walks around with that same aura and collides into each other creating engaging drama. This is what we have here.
All movie acting is stylized. This here is pure. Not cinema. But that’s not the point.
Buy this. It is essential viewing. It does not have the grace of Tarvosky, the lushness of a Greenaway, or the grandeur of a Kieslowski, but what it has, stands as its own, and can mark you deep depending on where you are in your personal growth.