Monday, January 30, 2017

Sundance with Abe: L.A. Times

I’m thrilled to be attending and covering the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah for the fourth time. I had the chance to see a number of films and will be posting reviews of everything I see!

L.A. Times
Directed by Michelle Morgan

There is a culture associated with Los Angeles that isn't particularly positive. While there are many wonderful things about Southern California, there is a tendency for residents to be somewhere vain and superficial, enjoying the nice weather, shopping all the time, and spending a disproportionate percentage of their lives on social media. Those people, especially at the extreme, can be intolerable, but they do make great movie subjects.

Annette (Michelle Morgan) is a self-obsessed socialite who uses most of the air around her to comment on other people's lives. She is dissatisfied with her relationship with Elliot (Torma Jaccone), whose primary offenses include wanting taking out the trash to be a two-person task and forcing her to walk everywhere all the time. Deciding that she needs to move on to be happy like her other couple friends, Annette tries to go it alone as her best friend Baker (Dree Hemingway) navigates a truly depressing dating scene.

The conversations in “L.A. Times” are not particularly deep, and that’s purposeful. Annette uses big words and speaks with authority about the topics she discusses, even if she knows little to nothing about a given subject. But in her mind, it’s how you’re perceived that matters, and therefore she projects an image of the person she thinks society wants her to be while judging everyone else for not being up to that standard. Her friends approach the world with slightly more realism, but find themselves utterly unfit for existence as it’s currently decreed, endlessly searching for a romantic partner who wants to see and experience the world from their perspective.

Morgan, who wrote and directed the film, joked before a screening that she has a “small cameo.” As Annette, she is so utterly detestable, but just as watchable, as she latches on to the wrong part of each thing someone says and twists it to make her sound right and everyone else hopelessly wrong. She’s a character who seems too outrageous to be real, yet as portrayed by Morgan, it’s possible to see much of many similarly-minded people in her. Hemingway plays well off Morgan as a resigned romantic hopeless to fall into the same unfortunate situations time and time again. This film is genuinely funny, mostly as a mockery of L.A. culture but moreso as an ode to a generation where nothing is all that honest anymore unless you really find the right person who is still willing to look at the world that way.


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