Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Film Review: In Search of a Midnight Kiss

"In Search of a Midnight Kiss" * 1\2 (out of ****)

For those who read this blog I hope I have made it clear of my support for independent cinema. As an amateur filmmaker myself I never feel envy when I see young directors actually find distribution for their low budget films. I feel the opposite. It motives me. Heck if they can do it, so can I! On that level you'd think a film such as the new indie film "In Search of a Midnight Kiss" would appeal to me. I saw the trailer for the film and it just didn't seem to interest me but I gave it a shot. I have been wrong before about avoiding certain films and I may have very well been wrong about this film. Sadly, I wasn't. At least as far as my cinematic taste go.

"In Search of a Midnight Kiss" takes place in what I assume is modern day L.A. I cannot remember if a specific year is ever given. A young man named Wilson (Scoot McNairy) has just broken up with his girlfriend and has moved to California where he had hoped to become a screenwriter. With his luck at a low point Wilson lives with his best friend, Jacob (Brian McGuire) and his girlfriend, Min (Kathleen Luong).

It is New Year's Eve and Wilson is depressed. Come midnight he will not get a New Year's kiss. He is faced with loneliness and bitter. Jacob suggest taking an ad out on craigslist. This is their plan to find a date for the evening.

The film was shot in black&white. Given that and the film's plot, to my absolute astonishment, several critics including Andrew Sarris of the New York Observer and A.O. Scott of the New York Times, have actually had the audacity to compare this film to Woody Allen's "Manhattan". Some feel "In Search of a Midnight Kiss" is a valentine to the city of L.A. This must make Woody Allen's head spin. Since of course the only cultural advantage to living in California is that you can make a right turn on a red light.

The film's director is Alex Holdridge. It is not his first film. He has already made a few and tends to use the same cast.

So why do I not like this film? It has much to do with my own background story. And while I admit that is not fair to this film or any film, when we take out our own dislikes on a perfectly harmless film it is also part of reality. We all bring our own experiences with us inside the movie theatre. We all have different backgrounds and because of that different movies appeal to different people.

I went to a liberal art college where I was surrounded by people I couldn't stand. They were much like the characters in this film. They were kind of indie-rocker types. Hipsters, if that is the right word. The type that complain about every little thing. Social liberals. Pretentious. They wear jeans with holes in them, tight pants, scarfs as fashion statements. And Jacob, for some reason wear black fingerless gloves. Like Michael Jackson in the 80s. I hate these types. I had enough of them in college. This is what I brought with me in that movie theatre.

And here we have one of my major complaints with the film. For me it is a soulless film. These characters don't seem like people to me but cliches. I was unable to relate to any of them. They come from a world I take no part of. They just sit and complain about life in the most generic of ways. The film doesn't have any life to it. It doesn't live and breathe for me.

Besides "Manhattan" critics compare this film to the "Before Sunrise" and "Sunset" films. I can understand that, but don't agree. Yes maybe the idea of two people talking spend a night together is comparable the characters in those films however have one huge advantage other these characters. They are likable. I enjoyed "Before Sunset". The viewer becomes involved in their situation. Will he stay or leave? In "In Search for a Midnight Kiss" I could care less about any of these people.

Again, is it fair that I bring in my own experiences with me when I watch a film. Subjectively no. I should be able to recommend something even if it goes against what I personally like. And I think I'm able to do that sometimes. I gave "Into the Wild" 4 stars on this blog and at the same time wrote the film is for everything in society I am against. So I am capable of putting my feelings aside and judge a movie on its own. And I think I could have been able to do that with this film if it were better.