Monday, May 5, 2014

We're Just Here For The Bad Guys: The Dirties

After a great launch party at the Rivoli (the revered concert location of Nirvana The Band), Matt Johnson’s The Dirties, a black comedy about a high school shooting, is now available on a limited edition DVD and Blu-ray combo-pack. The film comes with a wealth of supplementary material that provides a fascinating perspective on the origins of The Dirties and its production. There are making-of featurettes of the crew filming its final shooting (after having raised extra funds just to do it, they pulled it off on their third attempt), deleted scenes (with jokes as funny as those from Anchorman and multiple endings), a fluke real (where all of the mistakes in the film are pointed out), Mr. Muldoon’s cut of The Dirties, and a short-film The Visitors by a couple of teenagers that have cameos. There are different trailers for The Dirties in the style of Only God Forgives, Aliens, and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. There are audio commentaries by Johnson and Owen Williams, the production team (who also have a couple hidden commentaries on Steven Spielberg), its writer Josh Boles, and by the film critic Chris Heron (whose analyses of the film's complexities are quite insightful). There are many fascinating anecdotes about the making of the film. Johnson speaks about how, for him, the performances of the non-professional actors are the most realistic when they are just being themselves and reacting to what is happening. There are multiple lengthy interviews with Johnson and the best one is the one by The Seventh Art. The discussions are also full of jokes which makes them especially entertaining. Some of the influences on the film that are brought up include Requiem for a Dream, Martha Macy May Marlene, Hackers (Johnson’s favorite film), Fight Club, The Office, and Man Bites Dog. If The Dirties appears better after watching all of these special features – surpassing its already interesting troubling conceit and anarchic visual style – it’s because what stands out is Johnson and his friends, and the fun and naturalness of it all. It's this loyalty to oneself and friends which is the through line for Johnson. So just like how Nirvana The Band, which offered a microcosm for the creative process through its story of Matt and Bird trying to book a show at the Rivoli, is essentially about the friendship and emotional bond between the two, The Dirties pushes this theme of loyalty towards friends even further (e.g. the last scene when Matt confronts Owen) to its self-destructive and violent conclusions. A personal, troubled and scary film. The Dirties gains in depth from repeated viewing.

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