Just watched the scene again.
I’m still not convinced that they actually admitted their feelings for each other in some way. I mean, it is still possible, but it doesn’t seem to fit with what they’re talking about. Charlie first talks about being a coward when it comes time to ending a relationship. He talks about not wanting his feelings or actions to affect anyone but himself. Then, Jamie talks about how she usually dates people like Charlie, but now she has taken on the “Charlie role.” She says she doesn’t like being that way (avoiding the confrontation that a relationship is over), but she “does know she doesn’t want to be with that person.” They talk about how relationships for them might be different as they get older—either lower their standards and settle for less or get more mature and be able to handle something more serious without freaking out. Then Jamie makes the comment about never feeling that way until now. Their faces are sort of emotionless when she says this. Actually, her face might suggest a sinking in of the significance of what she just said.
Here’s the thing. After this talk there really is no significant change in their behavior or how they speak to each other. If they had admitted their attraction to each other in Jamie’s friend’s apartment, I’d expect them now to be more openly affectionate—at least a little more, i.e. maybe hold hands, or have more physical contact; but you don’t really see much of that until the very end.
Btw, have any of you seen Elvira Madigan or A Man and a Woman? These movies are very different, but this film made me think of those films in different ways. If any of you have seen those films, I’d be interested if you see any connections.
but you don’t really see much of that until the very end.
yeah well that’s how i recall it, I thought there might have been a shift I hadn’t noticed.
Elvia Madigan, such a beautiful sad film. And based on a true story. It is similar in that two people are presented in that enclosed space floating (that word again)and it has the same “innocents abroad” feel to it.
Elvira Madigan is similar to Quiet City in the ways you mention. I think it’s the boy-meets-girl format that makes me think of the two films. However, I thought EM was a cautionary tale or a social critique of the idealism of the counter-culture—i.e. join a commune, love everyone and all will be well. So the film uses this boy-meets-girl, innocent abroad framework to comment on the times.
Quiet City does the same sort of thing in a way. Here the issue is not having a sense of direction and the difficulty with finding intimacy. (That’s way too reductive, but hopefully you get what I mean. But to be clear, I’m not necessarily saying this commentary is what the film is about—it’s just something reflective of the times—in the way the events in Elivra Madigan reflect its times.
I just watched the film and was very impressed; the performance of Erin Fisher as Jamie was really good, and Katz’ refusal to tack on a happy ending or simplify the relationship at any point was refreshing. The awkward conservation, the furtive glances and the inability of either character to eloquently express their deepest thoughts and feelings kept the relationship complex, just like a real-life relationship.
Katz, and a few other American independents, are the visual anthropologists of a disconnected group that is unfairly reviled by the conservative, arrogant types whose shallow values prevent them from engaging with any work of art — or any human relationship — of depth and prefer to look down on sensitive souls striving to understand themselves and others better.
Anyway, on to Carney …
I don’t see the big fuss with what he said to Katz. He is simply encouraging Katz to create more complex, greater works of art. What’s the problem with that? If you think Quiet City can be considered to be emotionally complex as a film like Faces, or any of Dreyer’s work, or Tarkovsky’s, or Bresson’s, or Kiarostami’s, or even Bujalski’s, then you’re kidding yourself. He recognises that Katz has a lot of talent and is capable of creating better works, so is giving him a bit of advice to help him along. How can you consider that offensive?
If you think Katz can do no better than Quiet City then you’re making a far more offensive claim than Carney did. As much as I like the film, it’s not as complex as the Duplass brother’s The Puffy Chair, any of Bujalski’s work, Ronnie Bronstein’s Frownland and his wife’s Yeast. He can and hopefully will create better films in the future — if he doesn’t, then he’s obviously a more limited artist than we think.
P.S. – In Between Days too! No doubt I’ve forgotten others but I think you get the idea.
P.P.S – You mentioned Linklater’s Before Sunrise/Sunset as a loose comparison and I see it in a sense but, as I think you may agree, this work is a far more complex and subtle depiction of human interaction. The big problem I have with Linklater is that his male characters tend — especially Hawke — to become parrots for himself, so you’ll hear the same ‘intellectual’ chat in his main films, which tires quickly.
….unfairly reviled by the conservative, arrogant types whose shallow values prevent them from engaging with any work of art — or any human relationship….
Haha These films* are actual the epitome of conservatism in that they don’t challenge reality – they don’t ask the audience to think beyond noticing details and having feelings.
i.e. they ask the audience to accept the status quo.
One thing has been bothering that I didn’t comment on from the OP: the actor, commentary Erin Fisher reveals that the director, Aaron Katz, originally planned to have Jamie and Robin to talk about Jamie’s feelings for Charlie, but the director eventually thought that would be too obvious.
I think that would have been more naturalistic – sometimes the natural is obvious.
I * reserve the right to qualify that by specific films. Mutual Appreciation is very different film. It is the Carney ideological classification of these films that I refer to when I say these films.
a disconnected group that is unfairly reviled by the conservative, arrogant types whose shallow values prevent them from engaging with any work of art — or any human relationship — of depth and prefer to look down on sensitive souls striving to understand themselves and others better.
I don’t see the big fuss with what he said to Katz. He is simply encouraging Katz to create more complex, greater works of art. What’s the problem with that?
First of all, I didn’t think Carney was just encouraging Katz to create more complex works of art. He seemed to be asking Katz to make films with attributes that Carney personally likes. It reminded me of the times I’ve met really good musicians and had the urge to suggest possible ideas or directions they could take their music. It’s not necessarily a bad thing—depending on the idea and how you approach it—but, generally, I think it’s presumptutous and bit arrogant.
Now, Carney might believe that his request for the more “messy parts of a relationship” is equivalent to asking for greater art, but I disagree with that on several levels. Are films that are not messy, also not great or even inferior to those that are? Personally, I don’t think so. Moreover, getting into the real life problems that occur between two characters would be completely inappropriate for what this film was going for—namely, the feeling and state of being prior to any kind of substantive relationship. The beauty of the film is that it captured this ethereal feeling/state.
FWIW, I also disagree with this idea that complex is superior to simple.
For example, you say, “You mentioned Linklater’s Before Sunrise/Sunset as a loose comparison and I see it in a sense but, as I think you may agree, this work is a far more complex and subtle depiction of human interaction.”
I agree that QC is more complex, subtle and realistic. But does that make the film better than Before Sunrise/Sunset films? Not necessarily. The “Before” films and QC have different objectives and different approaches to achieving those objectives. But both have a similar plot structure, and both succeed rather well at meeting their objectives, imo.
Ah yeh, I forget how staggeringly complex Requiem for a Dream and Memento are. I suppose you prefer puzzles and ‘drugs are bad mmmkay’ films than works that deal with subtle human emotions. I assume you’d enjoy Hotel Rwanda more than a subtle film as it deals with a serious topic which can make you think, ‘Oh, that Rwandan genocide was bad, wasn’t it? What a deep observation by me’
I didn’t actual like Hotel Rwanda, if that helps.Requiem for a Dream, Memento and all the films I list as cinematic totems are about the medium of cinema.
They are not about subtle human emotions and they are not, as I point out, my favorites.
Many of his films on his masters of cinema are favs of mine including Gummo
Did you see subtle human emotions in Gummo? I know I did.
Btw, why do you think Carney really had a problem with Dance Party USA? gaps?
Robert: "One thing has been bothering that I didn’t comment on from the OP: the actor, commentary Erin Fisher reveals that the director, Aaron Katz, originally planned to have Jamie and Robin to talk about Jamie’s feelings for Charlie, but the director eventually thought that would be too obvious.
I think that would have been more naturalistic – sometimes the natural is obvious."
But in this case, I think it would have been too didactic. The film managed to depict this pre-relationship state cinematically—i.e. through performance, dialogue, editing, composition, etc.—and by doing so it managed to “speak” with subtlety and arstistry. If the characters spoke explicitly about this state, then you might as well have written an essay instead.
Ah yeh, I forget how staggeringly complex Requiem for a Dream and Memento are. I suppose you prefer puzzles and ‘drugs are bad mmmkay’ films than works that deal with subtle human.
Was this directed at me? ?
True^ – it is the feelings, not any insight about a relationship, the film is after.
So what did we learn? what does the film tell us about the world?
So what did we learn? what does the film tell us about the world?
Do we have to learn something from a film or work of art? The delicacy and ethereal quality of the feeling—especially when you link it to the simple need for human touch—is beautiful and poignant by itself, at least for me. Also, I can’t think of many films that have tried to capture that, let alone capture it in such a graceful way.
Adam recommended Sam Neave’s Cry Funny Happy as an example of a film which more daring. which I enjoyed the film quite a bit, and I think it’s a very good drama (72/100). Interestingly enough, the film also features a man and woman meeting for the first time. And, yes, this relationship has some messiness—but it’s also more of dramatic contrivance than something realistic. (How many first time interactions are like the one in the film?) But I don’t mean to use “dramatic contrivance” in a perjorative sense. I didn’t have a problem with it. In a way, Cry Funny Happy feels more theatrical/dramatic (same with Honey) than Quiet City, which seems more realistic. (Bujalski’s films feel are also less theatrical than “Cry” and “Honey.”) In a way, we’re talking about films with a different approach and different objectives.
I just saw this thread now. Quiet City had a huge impact on me especially when I first saw it around 2009. It was nothing like anything I had seen at that time. I sent Aaron Katz a message on Myspace after I saw it, thanking him for the film, and he replied I think about a month after. He’s a very nice guy. He mentioned Ozu and Whit Stillman as inspirations when he was making the film. I also bought the double DVD of his two films. Dance Party USA was a good film as well, especially considering that it was his first. I can’t wait to watch Cold Weather which has been getting very good reviews from everywhere. He’s gonna make it big.