January 15, 2009

SUNDANCE '09 PODCAST: Ry Russo-Young and Stella Schnabel

Stella Schnabel, Ry Russo-Young YOU WONT MISS ME star Stella Schnabel, and director Ry Russo-Young

The 2009 Sundance Film Festival opens tonight in Park City, and while GreenCine Daily won't be representing in person -- like many others, which is apparently worth noting? -- I'll still be covering potential break-out films (with many thanks to the generous filmmakers and PR companies who helped get my peepers on these flicks from thousands of miles away). Beginning now, and carrying on next Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, check back for podcast interviews and spotlight reviews.

First up? A chat with writer/director Ry-Russo Young (Orphans, Marion) and co-writer/star Stella Schnabel, the creative force behind You Wont Miss Me, premiering in the New Frontier Features section. In Schnabel's first-ever interview about her first-ever screen role, she and Russo-Young and I discuss their collaborative improvisation, the pros and cons of having a famous dad in the biz, the terror of love, and the film itself, which Russo-Young describes as such:

A kaleidoscopic film portrait of Shelly Brown, a twenty-three-year-old alienated urban misfit recently released from a psychiatric hospital. Starring Stella Schnabel, featuring Rene Ricard and introducing other notable New York personalities, the film gives pathos to the frenzy of the youthful desire for acceptance.

Shot in a variety of styles and formats, YOU WONT MISS ME mixes non-actors with professionals, verité with staging, order with abstraction, to paint an evocative picture of a contemporary rebel.

To listen to the podcast, click here.

You Won't Miss Me screens at Sundance on January 16, 17, 18 and 22. For more info on the film, visit its festival page or Ry Russo-Young's official website.

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Posted by ahillis at January 15, 2009 5:10 PM


Ahh...nothing as exciting as two little rich girls playing at being "crazy" and "complicated." Wish my parents were rich and famous. Lazy jerks. Must be nice to have an entire world of open doors at your disposal when you decide that you'd rather not work for a living.

Posted by: Brenda Creece at January 16, 2009 11:26 AM

Brenda: Speaking of lazy, so is your assumption, no? Since you obviously haven't seen the film before making a cheap, unfair assessment, I'll let you know that YOU WONT MISS ME is actually a fine film. While I initially groaned at the synopsis for fear of what it might've been (based on previous films I've seen of "crazy youth"), I'm not the only critic who saw the film's pre-Sundance press screening and admired its fully realized portraiture. Nothing the Shelly character says or does goes against the grain of what the film sets up, and there's honesty and sincerity and (as Ry points out) pathos behind it all. Also, do you realize how many artists you probably admire who have come from some life of privilege? Money does not inherently equal influence, and there are plenty of rich-kid directors who still don't have a shot in hell of getting into Sundance. That's like giving an artist a pass (or even acclaim) for having a backstory of poverty before "rising from the depths" to make whatever people assume is brilliant: can't class bias go both ways?

I thought long and hard about posting such a nasty, myopic comment at all, but in case there are others who somehow feel the same way, maybe it's good to defend what's worth defending. I wish you had phrased your thoughts in a productive way that didn't come across so rude, but there you have it: people do judge books by their covers, and can't just accept art for art.

Posted by: Aaron Hillis at January 16, 2009 5:13 PM

Oh, I don't know, man. Every time I read something about this picture, Steely Dan's "Show Biz Kids" starts running through my head, and the podcast didn't exactly make it stop. It doesn't exactly help matters that another review I read of the "...Miss Me" seems to suggest that I ought to genuflect in front of it because it doesn't indulge in the dreaded "male gaze." I'm sure I'll check the picture out...but it already feels like homework.

Posted by: Glenn Kenny at January 17, 2009 10:15 PM

Et tu, GK? Look, see it or don't see it, I'm not saying it's one for the canon. But I think the film has merit, doesn't deserve that ugly comment up top, and if you're also going to spit on it sight unseen, what's left to discuss? Oh no, man, I haven't got the time time.

Posted by: Aaron Hillis at January 17, 2009 10:59 PM

I'd hardly say I'm spitting on the film. I haven't even seen it yet. Maybe I'm not making myself entirely clear.

Allow me to quote Robert Christgau's review of Lenny Kravitz's "Let Love Rule:" "For a black Jewish Christian married to Lisa Bonet who overoveroverdubbed his Hendrix-Beatles hybrid himself, not bad. But that's a lot of marketing to live down." Brenda Creece's comment might well have been myopic, but the motivation behind it is entirely understandable, given the "marketing" that this film has to live down: here you've got a picture directed by someone whose web bio cites a "New York" cover story that has nothing to do with the person's artistic activities; which stars the child of a controversial artist/filmmaker who was once himself a poster child of '80s excess; and which apparently ends in a scene featuring several cameos from figures prominent in a certain cinematic non-movement that dare not speak its name. Of course it's going to make some people roll their eyes sight unseen. The same way, mind you, that the description "a sci-fi thriller directed by David Bowie's son" might make some people start salivating, sight unseen. You know what I'm saying? Either way it's not "fair," but it's bound to happen; one doesn't put a description of a film out there expecting a reaction of respectful disinterest; one puts a description out there in the hopes that the reader will say, "Hey, that sounds intriguing." But sometimes the reader will say, "Hey that sounds meretricious/indulgent/what have you."

As I said, I'll see it. In the meantime, I eagerly await Jeff Wells' assessment.

Posted by: Glenn Kenny at January 18, 2009 8:06 AM
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