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Monday Movies Has the Biggest Tits in School — After Yours

Terri is a beautiful indie character study, the type of film that allows plot to recede in favor of truth. (See it!) As the title character, Jacob Wysocki is a lost forest ogre of a young teenager, whose incomprehension of the normal world has formed an imperfect armor against its slights. Wysocki inhabits the role with thoroughly physicalized vulnerability, evident in everything from his half-lumbering, half-skipping walk to the way he crumples his spines over his exposed torso when he removes his shirt. As the principal (or guidance counselor) Mr. Fitz whose interest in Terri forms the loose narrative spine of the film, John C. Reilly (an affable doofus much as always) seems to know hardly any more than Terri about getting along in the world, only the lesson of questionable value that you have to fake your way along. Both have an unschooled kindness that pulls them into one another’s orbit, and from each other they learn a little bit about how to be to other people — something of real value, though perhaps not so much to qualify as a whole lesson.

Creed Bratton, recognizable from The Office but not distractingly so, plays Terri’s Uncle James, who slips in and out of fogs of dementia and requires Terri’s care. His home, where Terri lives, is rendered exquisitely — it appears at first that they live in poverty, but that’s not exactly it. They’re poor, but they have lovely, shabby things, none of which appears less than thirty years old. The suggestion is of a dusty museum that remained the same as Uncle James declined, and whose minimal comforts are all Terri expects to have, a place of safely low expectations. There’s a moment when Terri comes home to find Uncle James lucid, reading an old hardover. “I don’t know how long this window is going to be,” says Uncle James, shooing Terri away so he can continue reading — a subtle moment of striking characterization and subtle pathos that communicates everything about their relationship. Terri can count on very little from anyone at all.

One of the most remarkable portrayals is the character Heather Miles, a girl who takes an interest in Terri after he defends her from being shamed (in Home Ec!) as a slut. The characters seem to be in ninth grade. Heather passes through varying degrees of sexuality, or maybe sex passes through her–is written onto her–in varying colorations: in one scene she is bare-armed, high-skirted, and adventurous; in the next, having been caught mid-adventure, she is a little girl in trainers and a hoodie. She explains her actions to Terri with alarming candor: “It feels good to be wanted.” Then, teetering, reaches for the high again.

A long sequence at the beginning of the film, a short story on its own that sets into motion Terri’s relationship with Mr. Fitz, has Uncle James telling Terri that there are mice in the attic and it’s up to him to set traps. “Just think of it as feeding the animals in the marsh,” Uncle James says when Terri balks. Terri reluctantly traps the mice, then leaves their corpses on a log only to watch in fascination as a bird devours them. When he runs out of attic mice to leave, he lays more traps in the marsh itself–a terrible reductio that gets him sent to Mr. Fitz. There is a certain amount of brutality needed to walk through the world. To grow up, you must learn how much, and when.

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July 25, 2011 - Posted by | Monday Movies |

12 Comments

  1. 7/18/11 – Secretariat 4/10 weaker Disney;90 minutes just to see re-enactment of Belmont;and I hate horses

    7/19/11 – Millenium Mambo – Hou Hsiao-Hsiao 2001 8/10 “takes a ton of work to be as natural as “Qi Shu”

    7/20/11 – Brothers and Sisters of Toda Family – Ozu 1941 6/10

    7/22/11 – The Sun’s Burial – Oshima 1960 7/10;nasty slumlife;feels chaotic and sloppy to start, but structure is revealed; parody of Red Harvest-Yojmbo here;political allegory anti-Kurosawa

    7/23/11 – Moon and Cherry – Tanada Yuki (woman) 2004 7/10
    Funny romcom about a young woman who writes erotic novels and the virgin she picks up to use for material in her novel. It’s about sex and love, but even more about having a relationship with a writer/artist.

    7/24/11 – The Freshman – Harold Lloyd 1925 8/10
    not quite the visual genius of Chaplin and Keaton, but I think warmer, and modern in pacing and editing

    Comment by bob mcmanus | July 25, 2011

  2. “there is a certain amount of brutality to walk the world”, so true
    i never could get what’s so great about big boobs and remember suddenly not feeling jealous and as if just like pitying a rival girl when saw her big bust pic even though she was pretty attractive facewise cz having the big bust must be a great inconvenience and constant sourse of one’s low self-esteem, though the pretty face hopefully compensated for her
    having a too pretty face also could be pretty inconvenient i guess, cz it’s just another and the biggest to that erogenic zone, not that different from boobs for example and being too pretty must be is as if like screaming too obviosly for attention
    well, all that must be true for adolescents, not fully reproductive adults, sure
    i put on hold netflix so don’t watch movies anymore

    Comment by read | July 25, 2011

  3. The only movie I watched this week was one of the feature-length Futurama things. It always amazes me how the Futurama writers have managed to maintain precisely the same level of quality for the entirety of the show’s run. It’s not the best show, but you always go into an episode knowing exactly how good it will be.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | July 25, 2011

  4. I went more mainstream than Josh, though I did see Ebert posted a link to his review of Terri multiple times on Twitter, calling it, “the best movie opening this week” or something like that. Anyway, I saw Captain America. I think the best of the comic book movies are those that are able to exercise patience in their storytelling. This one was, as they were a good ways into the movie before Steve Rogers even appeared as Captain America. That doesn’t mean I’d go so far as to say this is one of the best superhero movies, but it is closer to Spiderman 2 and Iron Man than it is to Thor or Fantastic Four.

    Comment by Matt in Toledo | July 25, 2011

  5. Watched Windy City Heat this week. Holy crap was that fun.

    Do I need to see Terri in the theater or can I wait to see it on DVD? It’s only playing at the Angelika and I hate seeing movies at the Angelika.

    Comment by Josh Malbin | July 25, 2011

  6. You can wait.

    Comment by Josh K-sky | July 25, 2011

  7. Acting on the sort of benevolence that can only be found in a clearance bin at Wal-Mart, my brother got a “Futurama” movie DVD for me for Christmas one year. I don’t think he was being ironic: he likes these ostensibly “adult” cartoons. I don’t think I had seen “Futurama” before and neither had Blythe (as far as my memory goes), but we watched the movie on Boxing Day (or one of those days between Christmas and New Year’s). Needless to say, we sat there in horrified fascination for the duration of the film. Horrified because it was horrible and unfunny; fascinated because not only did someone make the movie, but there are enough consumers of the movie to justify its creation in the first place. Then we remembered that Fox has had eight hours of ostensibly “adult” cartoons on in a row on Sunday nights since about the 1950s.

    “Death Race” was on again around bedtime the other night. We watched the part from when Jason Statham gets out of the car to break the neo-nazi’s neck to the point where he jumps on the train with Machine Gun Joe.

    Comment by Craig McFarlane | July 25, 2011

  8. I watched Last Tango in Paris yesterday. It seemed to me to share many of the flaws I associate with 70s movies, but the ending was such sheer genius that it redeemed all that. It was also fun to learn a new use for butter, as well as to get the helpful tip that a relationship based on an alternation between childlike silliness and borderline rape may prove to be unstable.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | July 27, 2011

  9. i confess i never could watch movies with _godfather_’s actor except _ godfather_ beginning from _the street car named desire_, marlon brando i recalled, then that horror about cambodja, forget its title
    too powerful overbearing animal like all just desires irrational compulsive etc qualities do not appeal to me in general i guess
    i am sorry to sound misogynistic sometimes, cz my feminist beliefs are stronger i believe, just can’t bear too feminine females though that doesn’t mean i advocate burqas and i am always like puzzled by the dating culture of the westerners, it’s like they are willing to date whoever, between themselves, of course, who fits their likes like the sum of the body parts, or even just cool clothes or being attracted to just some physical parts, long legs big boobs etc, and everybody seems like so disposable, if not she/him then next whoever suitable i guess
    the most important thing in all that seems not a person h/hself, one and only, so it’s very strange
    overpopulation perhaps

    Comment by read | July 27, 2011

  10. If it makes you feel any better about the whole boobs thing, read, the “yours” in the post title refers to a line in the film directed at an overweight young man. “Heather Miles has the biggest tits in school after yours, Terri” is the line. Although it may have been “rack” now that I think about it.

    Comment by Josh K-sky | July 27, 2011

  11. whoever’s boobs, male, female, just the body parts defining a person is strange, is all i am saying

    Comment by read | July 27, 2011

  12. I watched The New World yesterday, in my post-Tree of Life attempt to reach Malick completism. Badlands is all that remains, but apparently there will be a “very long wait” before Netflix can get me a copy.

    My impression of The New World is that it was a whole lot like The Tree of Life in weird and unexpected ways. I read a review that said the greatest achievement of the movie was to make London seem like an alien planet after submerging us in the wilds of Virginia, and I have to agree.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | July 28, 2011


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