The Movie Waffler New Release Review - I LIKE MOVIES | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - I LIKE MOVIES

New Release Review - I LIKE MOVIES
A narcissistic teen is exposed to the real world when he takes a job at a video store.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Chandler Levack

Starring: Isaiah Lehtinen, Romina D'Ugo, Krista Bridges, Percy Hynes White, Dan Beirne, Andy McQueen, Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll

I Like Movies poster

Writer/director Chandler Levack's 2003 set feature debut I Like Movies is one of the more derivative films I've seen all year, essentially mashing The Good Girl and The Edge of Seventeen in a blender. But the specificity of its setting – in terms of both time and place – will resonate with film lovers over a certain age, and may also make them feel a little uncomfortable.

A few years ago the label "film bro" began to pop up everywhere. It morphed from being applied to young men who only watch movies made by a certain type of revered male auteur (Scorsese, Tarantino, PTA et al) to now being wielded as an anti-intellectual, anti-curiosity sword to shank any male viewer who commits the mortal sin of appreciating a movie made in the 20th century or one that requires subtitles to be read, or greatest crime of all, happens to be in black and white. When I think of a "bro" I picture some douchebag in a backwards cap chugging one of those tiny beers Americans drink – not exactly the prime audience for Apichatpong Weerasethakul, more like the sort of bloke whose favourite movie is The Boondock Saints. In my experience men with an interest in movies beyond the mainstream are frail or overweight types who suffer from social anxiety.

I Like Movies review

Types like Lawrence, the protagonist of Levack's film, played by Isaiah Lehtinen in what would be a star-making turn if the people who created stars still watched indie movies. He's a movie obsessed narcissist who only has one friend, Matt (Percy Hynes White), but even Matt is more of a colleague than a friend, helping Lawrence to make his home movies. In the film's most uncomfortable moment, Lawrence describes Matt as a "placeholder" until he makes better friends in college. Despite displaying no talent for filmmaking, Lawrence has convinced himself he's going to be accepted into NYU, where one of his heroes, Todd Solondz, is on the faculty. Even if he was accepted, where would he get the $90,000 admission fee?

Economics not being his strong suit, Lawrence takes a job at a local Blockbuster-esque video store called Sequels. His boss is Alana (Romina D'Ugo), who is simultaneously sympathetic of Lawrence while also having no time for his bullshit. Similar to Hailee Steinfeld's character in The Edge of Seventeen, Lawrence's father took his own life four years ago and he's been using this to get away with being a sociopath. Whenever his mother admonishes him he merely has to mention his father for her to back down. Teachers similarly treat him with kid gloves. Even Matt feels unable to stand up to Lawrence. But Alana is oblivious to Lawrence's past and treats him as she would anyone else. It's such a revelation to Lawrence that he mistakes her bluntness for romantic affection.

I Like Movies review

Though set in 2003, primarily to accommodate its video store setting (Levack was once employed by such an outlet), the period setting slyly critiques the era we find ourselves living in today. We're surrounded by narcissists like Lawrence today because it's become taboo to call anyone out on their bad behaviour. Sure, people will gladly pile on to a celeb for any minor indiscretion, yet they'll let their family and friends get away with anything. Lawrence is essentially using the very modern method of playing the victim card with regards to his father's death. He believes he's the only person who has gone through a traumatic experience, and is shocked when Alana tells him something horrific she's never been able to tell anyone else. "Why would you tell me that?" is his unsympathetic response. By being made aware that there's nothing special about his grief, Lawrence feels victimised, stripped of a layer of protection.

I Like Movies suggests that if we don't start calling out young narcissists they're going to get a shock when they enter the real world (Lawrence's expression when he sees his paltry first pay cheque is priceless). Alana tells Lawrence that college will be good for him, instructing him on how to come out of his shell and make friends by showing empathy for others. This will raise a wry smile considering how North American colleges now seem dedicated to cocooning young people from the adult world.

I Like Movies review

Anyone who loves an art form is a narcissist to some degree when it comes to their personal taste. Just as Lawrence is horrified when he's asked to flog copies of Shrek, we all frown at what we perceive as the awful taste of people who are less committed to the medium we love. But I'm sure wine and cheese lovers throw up in their mouth a little when they see the cheap plonk and cheddar we pull off the shelves. We'll never be cured of this particular strain of narcissism, and I think Levack might admit to that herself, but she's wise enough to know that every now and then you need to hit the eject button (or turn off the phone) and get out into the real world.

I Like Movies is in Irish cinemas from December 15th. A UK release has yet to be announced.

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