I don’t watch a whole lot of low budget (underground, independent, arthouse, whichever term you’d care to use) movies for three main reasons. One reason is because here in Akron, they are shown in theaters few and far between, unless you are willing to drive to Cleveland. Another reason is that by the time I get around to them, the directors have gone mainstream, likely as not kowtowing to the mainstream demand, sacrificing quality for dollars. Mostly, it’s because I’m quite particular in my movie tastes. Very few of these kind of movies impress me. From what I’ve seen of Adam Bowers’ “New Low,” this is a movie I’m interested in seeing in its entirety when it comes to the Akron Film Festival on Sept. 24.
Wendell, played by Adam Bowers (who also wrote, directed, produced and edited), is a neurotic, cynical even, 20-something who begins a relationship with a girl named Vicky (Jayme Ratzer) after getting faced at the bar. Vicky is an angry drunk with the negative connotations of a dirty hippie. Her cause isn’t helped by the cold sore on her lip or her dumpster diving, but she connects with Wendell’s sloppy slacker side. He then meets Joanna (Valerie Jones) while working at the video store. She’s cute, funny, and doesn’t have lip acne. She brings out the side of him that cares about things. All his words. I love how he tells his friend Dave (Toby Turner) that “for once in [his] life, he’s with someone who doesn’t repulse him physically or morally.” And now we come down to the classic scenario: which girl should Wendell pick?
I am secure enough in my sexuality to admit that I’ve seen my fair share of romcoms. I’ve even liked a few. “New Low” could be one of them. The humor in this movie is very dry, subtle and sarcastic, which I believe is its clever device. In comparison to a stylistically similar mainstream movie, say “Juno.” “New Low” was less contrived and more genuine, which made it easier and more natural to sarcastic and cynical as needed, whereas in “Juno” was pretty transparent. We could all see that the sarcasm was trying to be on Napoleon Dynamite’s coattails. The humor was almost non-existent, and when there was a joke it was fairly juvenile or pointless (ie: oh my blog, and the ubiquitous hamburger phone). Adam Bowers may just be the only filmmaker to really pull off the sarcastic one liner. I tweeted my favorite, and probably most sarcastic, line of the trailer: “I just wish I was attractive enough to be in a relationship based entirely on looks.”
The bottom line: this movie looks pretty good, if you like smart, sarcastic, dry humor. If you like early Wes Anderson movies, namely “Rushmore,” this is your flick. If you’re a fan of the offbeat, this flick is for you. If you’re a type A personality, this flick is probably not for you, but try it and you may like it
The Akron Film Festival will take place Sept. 23 through Sept. 26 in Akron, Ohio. Click here for more information.
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Follow Chris Hyatt on Twitter at http://twitter.com/hyattch.