DVD Review HTF REVIEW: Me And You And Everyone We Know

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Aaron Silverman, Oct 17, 2005.

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  1. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    [​IMG]
    Me And You And Everyone We Know[​IMG]

    US Theatrical Release: June 17, 2005 (MGM/ Sony Pictures/ IFC Films)
    US DVD Release: October 11, 2005
    Running Time: 1:31:30 (12 chapter stops)
    Rating: R (Disturbing Sexual Content Involving Children And For Language)
    Video: 1.85:1 Anamorphic (Extra Features: 1.85:1 non-anamorphic)
    Audio: English DD5.1 (Extra Features: English DD2.0)
    Subtitles: English (Extra Features: None)
    TV-Generated Closed Captions: English (Extra Features: None)
    Menus: Not animated
    Packaging: Standard keepcase; insert features cover images of other Sony and MGM titles.
    MSRP: $24.96

    THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT IT: 3/5

    Me And You And Everyone We Know is a funny film – funny “peculiar” and funny “ha ha” at the same time. It’s a far cry from the usual big-budget fare, observing a cast of characters who are not quirky in a Hollywood sense, but who are idiosyncratic in ways that feel real, as they seek love and happiness in an uncertain world that resembles the one outside the window much more than the one on the studio backlot. It’s a cute slice of life that sometimes feels as guileless as its characters, which is perhaps the key to its charm.

    Young artist Christine Jesperson (writer/ director Miranda July) lives vicariously through the videos she creates, which are based on photographs borrowed from other people’s lives. She doesn’t appear to have any real friends or family about, but she gets along well with the elderly folks for whom she provides a car service. Her real life couldn’t be any more different from the breathlessly adventurous romances that she depicts on video.

    Meanwhile, shoe salesman Richard Swersey (John Hawkes) has separated from his wife and is setting up a new home for himself and his two young boys, adolescent Peter (Miles Thompson) and much younger Robby (Brandon Ratcliff). In an ill-advised attempt to amuse his sons that turns into a filmic metaphor for his family, he burns his hand badly with a parlor trick gone wrong. The boys seem fairly well-adjusted, but Richard is a little lost.

    Christine and Richard, who are both rather childlike and naïve in their attitudes about relationships, would make a perfect couple. However, they’ll have to overcome their own habits and hesitations in order to get together. Both are in a bit of a rut, shy around new people and fearful of change. In one of the film’s many hit-you-over-the-head metaphors, a plastic bag containing a live goldfish balances precariously on the roof of a speeding truck. Speeding up, slowing down, or even changing lanes could spell doom for the little fish – as Christine’s passenger Michael (Hector Elias) observes, “the best thing for that fish would be if he just could drive steadily, forever.” Clearly, Christine hides behind a similar attitude about her own life.

    Christine’s ill-fitting shoes are another symbol of her stagnation. However, they also lead to a halting first interaction with Richard, as he tries to sell her a better pair. In keeping with the theme of symbolic footwear, Christine buys the shoes, but only uses them as props in a video – she isn’t sure exactly what to do with the burgeoning relationship with Richard, either. She tries to develop it, but initially drives him away with her quirky advances that are just a little too forward for the recently separated father. Her art is affected by this, with the overblown romance of the work shown at the beginning of the film giving way to a shy, awkward depiction of the hesitant beginnings of a relationship.

    The screenplay circles around Christine, Richard, and their friends and neighbors. Most of them are a little bent – but then again, most real people have their eccentricities too. The characters in Me And You And Everyone We Know, unlike many ostensibly “quirky” individuals in more formulaic films, are not especially outgoing or confident. They’re unsure of themselves and their place in the world, which makes it very easy to identify with them.

    The great irony of the film is that adult characters struggle to overcome their shyness and feel their way through relationships while the children around them desperately try to become adults. Adults experiment with love while children experiment with sex. Richard’s sons become involved in a bizarre cyber-sex relationship with a mysterious online correspondent. Their young neighbor Sylvie (Carlie Westerman) obsesses over small appliances and housewares, keeping a scrapbook of catalog photos and spending her allowance on towels and kitchen electronics for her future “dowry.” A pair of teenagers, Heather (Natasha Slayton) and Rebecca (Najarra Townsend), fantasize about sexual escapades with Richard’s adult co-worker Andrew (Brad William Henke), who seems caught in a post-adolescent lifestyle of hanging around with a six-pack and who feeds on the attentions of the young girls. Nancy (Tracy Wright), curator of a local art museum, tries to find true meaning in her world of pretentious artists and their often meaningless works.

    These characters all share one overriding trait – loneliness and alienation. Most of them are neighbors, and few of them are literally alone, but they are all looking for love and meaning in their relatively mundane lives. The film is laced with enough humor that its observation of these less-than-happy folks never gets too downbeat, however. Sometimes it laughs with them, and sometimes it laughs at them as they experiment with their lives.

    This being an indie film, writer/ director July didn’t feel the need to wrap everything up in a neat set of resolutions, and it’s better off for that. On the other hand, it doesn’t leave the viewer hanging, as some films of this sort are wont to do, but brings most of the characters to transitional points, where they are embarking on the next stages of their lives. It’s not an especially ambitious work, but as a simple character study of a group of people who feel real in situations that ring true, it works very nicely.

    One note about the film’s rating –the script includes some rather frank dialogue involving children, some of whom are quite young, and portrays one sex act involving teens, albeit with no actual nudity. The indie-film audience will probably not be terribly disturbed by this material, but it may be a bit much for some people.


    THE WAY I SEE IT: 2.5/5

    Colors are a bit oversaturated, which may be intentional as it sometimes feels like a child’s picture book. Detail is about average. There is not much edge enhancement, but there is a pretty good amount of digital artifacting visible in solid areas of the image.


    THE WAY I HEAR IT: 3.5/5

    The soundtrack consists almost entirely of center-channel dialogue, which is clear and easy to follow. The music is mixed for 5.1, and there is a hint of ambient effects in the stereo channels. Nothing exciting, but it gets the job done.


    THE SWAG: 0.5/5 (rating combines quality and quantity)

    Deleted Scenes

    Six scenes are included (although two of them are slightly differing versions of the same scene), running a total of about 7:30. They’re amusing, but none of them was really missed.

    Trailers

    Eight trailers are included. The trailer for Rock School plays automatically when the disc is first inserted. It may be skipped.
    • Rock School (1:59) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
    • Turtles Can Fly (1:52) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
    • Saving Face (1:58) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
    • Yes (2:12) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
    • Saraband (1:21) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
    • Heights (1:52) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
    • 3-Iron (1:59) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
    • Beautiful Country (1:54) (DD2.0; 2.35:1 anamorphic)

    SUMMING IT ALL UP

    The Way I Feel About It: 3/5
    The Way I See It: 2.5/5
    The Way I Hear It: 3.5/5
    The Swag: 0.5/5


    Some have accused Me And You And Everyone We Know of being an unimaginative, by-the-numbers indie film of suburban alienation. However, it is rather endearing in its treatment of less-than-sophisticated characters, and while some of its symbolism is on the heavy-handed side, for the most part it treats its audience with intelligence and doesn’t forget to be entertaining while it gets its ideas across. It’s a solid choice for date night in an indie mood. The image is slightly below-average, while the audio is slightly above-average, which should be OK for fans of the film. The real disappointment is the almost total lack of extra features – there are often interesting stories behind the production of small films like this one, and it’s always interesting to hear what a first-time director has to say, especially one like July who displays some talent.
     
  2. Brian_cyberbri

    Brian_cyberbri Stunt Coordinator

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    We just watched this last night, and really enjoyed it. It, along with Crash, have been a nice break from the run-of-the-mill fare from Hollywood as of late. I suggest it to anyone who likes movies that break away from the norm.

    I personally didn't notice more than a little of the artifacting you mention. Otherwise, I thought it had a very solid picture, adequately sharp most of the time, with a few shots that seemed a little soft. I personally didn't find the colors over-saturated, but thought they popped when necessary, and gave a nice contrast to the sometimes drab suburban scenery and backgrounds. If I were reviewing it I'd give it a 3.5 to 3.7, but I'd definitely go back and check for the artifacting you mentioned.

    For the audio, I thought the minimal music was used and mixed very well. Yes, the movie is mainly dialog. But for the times when the music swelled up, it sounded very good and spread across the soundstage, with a solid, slow bass line that caused me to grab my remote and turn it down so as to not disturb the neighbors.
     
  3. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Brian,

    The digital artifacting to which I referred was mainly blocking in solid regions of the image. It wasn't pervasive, but there were a few places where it really stood out like a sore thumb.

    Just out of curiosity, how big is your screen?
     
  4. Brian_cyberbri

    Brian_cyberbri Stunt Coordinator

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    I noticed artifacting one time in a little bit of green section, but it seemed really slight. I didn't notice any other times, but maybe I was just too into the movie to notice.

    I actually have a 43" Samsung DLP, viewing from about 8' away. For my DVD player, I'm using a HTPC with a nice decoder and scaler, outputting over DVI. I've also done extensive calibration/tweaking on my set, so I haven't noticed artifacting nearly as much as before.
     
  5. Aaron Silverman

    Aaron Silverman Executive Producer

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    Gregg Loewen's coming for a tune-up next month. If I remember to, I'll revisit this transfer after that. [​IMG]
     
  6. Rich Malloy

    Rich Malloy Producer

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    I was looking forward to seeing this flick, but it still surprised me. Really wonderful and charming, even when the subject matter is somewhat disturbing -- provocative and gentle all at once. The child and youth performances and characterizations were excellent, and I found the stories dealing with them to be particularly affecting and emotionally/psychologically truthful. Luv Mirandy July. John Hawkes was really excellent too.

    And let me see if I can remember this right:

    ))((

    ^^That image/emoticon/metaphor fairly well sums up the film. Obscene yet innocent, disgusting yet sweet, knowing and naive all at once. The back and forth, forever.

    The DVD is certainly acceptable, I thought. I didn't notice any obvious artefacting (only 53" screen), but the colors seemed a tad on the saturated side. I have no idea if this was intended or not, but not displeasing.
     

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