|11:00PM||After Party courtesy of Red Stripe|
220 36th Street, Brooklyn, New York, 11232
D, N, R to 36 St
Sex, offensive slam poets, and a naked film editor add to the director’s journey for egoless self-identity in this home movie-style portrait of lilting self-loathing.
i hate myself :) (Joanna Arnow | Brooklyn, NY | 56 min.)
A lot of documentary filmmakers think they are interesting subjects, confidently turning the lens on themselves. Joanna Arnow challenges that paradigm. Seemingly insecure to the point of self-loathing, she perpetually puts herself in a position of pain and judgment before the camera. But Arnow also uses the camera as a tool to uncover truths about herself, and in her self-depiction challenges our notions about relationships.
The 20-something filmmaker here documents her first relationship through the reactions of those around her: her parents, who are blunt yet loving; her friends, disembodied voices on the phone, adamantly giving advice; the editor of her film, a pushy, nude Freud with a ‘fro; and the film’s co-antagonist, Arnow’s boyfriend, a “performance artist” out to offend, drinking heavily and hovering just above derelict. Through her associates’ viewpoints, she reveals a raw and honest portrait of twenty-something Brooklyn malaise and the pathos that fuels it.
Arnow’s debut feature (her short film “Month One” screened at Rooftop in 2012) voices a self-depiction that is shockingly candid, compared to the banal over-sharing of most social media personal documentation, or to the carefully-crafted faux openness of celebrities. Intentionally eschewing a smooth narrative or glossy production, with Arnow’s defiant spirit she artfully compiles her experiences into a journey down the winding paths she is forging within the rickety world around her.
Following in Rooftop’s tradition of screening films about real lives, this gritty home movie portraiture exposes even the most unbecoming moments, times most of us want to forget. Arnow’s depredations become so abject as to be comical, and as a viewer, you are made uncomfortable, but you’re rooting for her. You wish for her sake that she would take control of the relationships in her life, but she’s unable. i hate myself :) is a grotesque exercise in existential crisis, but made with a smile, asking us all to define just how much control we have in our own lives.
- Donna K.
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