Kimball's Peak Three, Tinseltown
Behold mumblecore! It's just like regular-movie-core, but with hipster cred that reaches into your snarky soul and pinches its butt affectionately with its less-than-Hollywood-beautiful actors and low-budget sensibilities and some improvisational tripping over its own shoelaces. Adorable! Indie! Real!
Except, at least in the case of Cyrus, it's just more of the same old shit roughed up around the edges to disguise its tediousness and conventionality. Brother filmmakers Jay and Mark Duplass gained some festival cred with films such as The Puffy Chair and Baghead ... but suddenly they get a bit of a budget and some names you've heard of — Marisa Tomei! John C. Reilly! Jonah Hill! Catherine Keener! — and they reveal how dreary and pointless they can be.
But hey, it's dreary pointlessness in aid of something that movies have been telling us forever: There is literally nothing a guy can do that will ruin him for the likes of the most bodacious babe ever. A man can be unsocialized, even downright cruel, malicious and self-centered, and he is nevertheless guaranteed female love, sex, affection and adoration.
Look: I adore John C. Reilly. I think Marisa Tomei is fantastic. I worship Catherine Keener. I'm happy to see in this flick that Jonah Hill does indeed have some talent that just needs to be put to good use. But Cyrus ain't it. This is a needlessly miserable movie about nearly inexplicable people behaving in ways that, in real life, do not generally come with happy endings.
There's Reilly's John, who's divorced and lonely and dejected ... and certainly that's an understandable place to be in. But how John expresses his inner howls of wretchedness is the stuff of which loneliness and dejectedness is guaranteed, as demonstrated by an early scene in which John attends a party at the behest of Jamie (Keener), his ex: He overshares with strangers. He butts into the conversations of random, pretty, young girls. He acts out in the same way that we talk about unsocialized children "acting out."
We put up with such behavior when these characters bring something else to the table: artistic genius, an unusual perspective on the world, even such crassness as a shit-ton of money. John offers nothing like this. And yet Molly (Tomei), also attending the party, finds him fascinating, for reasons only she can see.
So John embarks on a tentative relationship with Molly. What was that I said about "less-than-Hollywood-beautiful actors"? That applies to the men only, here, naturally: Tomei is gorgeous, if supposedly, at 45, beyond her sell-by date for mainstream Hollywood films. (Ditto the 51-year-old Keener.) Molly is so "hot," in fact, that John obviously finds it worth putting up with her deranged son, Cyrus (Hill), who is even less socialized than John, in order to be with her.
John continues to put up with both Molly and Cyrus when it becomes plain that the relationship between mother and son is, to say the least, somewhat bizarre and more than a bit creepy: Cyrus is 20-something years old, and Mom is still slipping into his bedroom at night to comfort his "night terrors."
I suppose it's meant to be entertainingly odd, the weird intimacy between mother and adult child — an adult child who, it must be said, is not just overly coddled but actively psychotic. But I found it unpleasant and head-shakingly pitiable. Not adorable, or indie. And certainly not real.
So proud of you Catherine!!! I knew you could do it!!!
I read an early draft of Ghostland in 2014 that was written by Jon Orr…