Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

13 August 2008

Union Square, dir. Stephen Szklarski (2003)

NIKKI says:
Not the happiest way to spend a Wednesday morning. I sat down to watch this because I've had it hanging around for so long, but I kept putting it off because a film about strung out users in NYC is something you really need to be in the mood for, and when is that ever likely to happen? So, I just went for it.

I was enlightened briefly about how users score, how they survive on the streets, the various things they go through. The details within that information is what really did it for me, though. I felt I was really getting to the meat of the matter when Cheyenne talked about the woman who gave her $60 and her daughter, or watching Danny run out of a family member's apartment with books and CDs that he stole to sell. I also felt very fly-on-the-wall between Mike and Cheyenne as their relationship took a turn. Those moments, the insights that came not from stories of addiction or panhandling or abuse, but from these real people. That was good. Otherwise, I felt the film generalised a lot, and attempted to show this downside of street life and addiction rather than focusing on these people and their individual experiences.

It tried to do that -- you can hear the interviewer asking more probing questions, but it's just not as interesting to hear how James got away with a drug conviction when a bag fell out of his pocket than it is to hear him talk about why he's on drugs, how he made the choices he did, and what he plans to do about it. I only came to know James in the special features, listening to his mum talk about finding out he was on the street.

So, perhaps the film was supposed to be more about the street and what it sees rather than what the people on it really go through. I learned about the people, but I felt I could have learned so much more. So Ron goes up to a guy's apartment and receives oral sex for money -- he tells us that matter-of-factly and I'm wondering if I'm supposed to be shocked or appalled? I was just wondering how he felt in those times, really and truly felt? Because everyone's got shit in their lives, everyone makes sacrifices and compromises, and non-users have some pretty horrendous stories of survival, too. What makes Ron's story, that it's based around heroine addiction, any different? I wanted the film to make those connections and I don't feel it did.

I did feel a lot for Cheyenne, and I was thrilled to see her clean and reunited with her daughter in the follow-up film in the special features. When she talked about Mike and how she just wanted to be taken care of, the way she put it was really interesting. She said it was time she was taken care of, and I really felt for her then.

Overall, an interesting look inside this world; a courageous film, a necessary film. But not nearly as introspective as I had hoped.


Steve did not view.

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