Reality Bites: good stuffPosted: May 30, 2011
Sometimes I have a hankering for a certain kind of indie movie. They tend to fall into one of two categories: sad or happy. A happy indie (and I realize now that when I say ‘indie’ I don’t necessarily mean films that are made independently, but really any film that is still somewhat obscure and low budget) would be something like Happy Go Lucky or Please Give. A sad indie would be something like The Squid and the Whale.
Sometimes I just want to watch a Charlie Kaufman film.
And other times, I just want to watch a low budget movie about angsty white twenty-somethings. Because you can’t have too much angst. And you certainly can’t have too many white people.
So Reality Bites (1994) was the perfect movie for my mood. It stars the highly underrated Winona Ryder, who would have
been the face of the indie 90s had she not pissed it all away by shoplifting. I still contend that she is one of the most beautiful people in Hollywood. Hands down. Those big brown chocolate eyes, popping out of that spotless white skin. That small petite body except for her randomly voluptuous breasts. She is genetically blessed. But she always comes across as slightly uncomfortable with her beauty and that’s what I find most appealing about her on screen. Her eyes sort of wander off, and she mumbles and she picks at herself and suddenly she is very human and fragile and so the kind of girl that would break many, many, many white angsty hearts.
Ethan Hawke, is also in this movie. Young Ethan Hawke, post Dead Poet’s Society, pre-whatever horrible thing happened in his life that made him age the way that he did. That sounds mean. But seriously. What happened to him? I spent the first tweny minutes of Before Sunset, trying to get used to his face, the hardness, and the angularity, the years of stress and worry and wrinkles. Normally people look better when they lose their baby fat, but it is the baby fat that made early ’90s Ethan Hawke such a heartthrob. His character in Reality Bites is one of those irresistible toolbags, one of those annoying intellectuals who think they’re making a statement about corporate America by being chronically unemployed. But that face, man. The innocence in the midst of his bullshitting, and his smoking and his habit of running his fingers through his greasy, Kurt Cobain hair. The way he acts as if he doesn’t care when he clearly does.
Reality Bites is an interesting movie to watch now in the Obama era. It’s like a time capsule; the very beginning of the movie sends you flying back to the early ’90s, with the grainy video tape, the clunky shoes, the ubiquitous cigarettes, the acid washed denim, the loose, ill fitting dresses, the looming specter of AIDS and Janeane Garofalo (who, by the way, is very good in this movie. Great Betty Page haircut, stinging red lipstick, interesting vintage clothes, trademark wit– it’s Garofalo before she took her work too seriously). Reality Bites is refreshing; it reminds you of a time when decent indie romantic dramas weren’t so hard to come by. It reminds you that post collegiate pretension has always been with us and that white people are quite adept at the whole woe-is-me bit.
Generation X at its height.
*The scenes about all their parents’ divorces break my heart. As does Ethan Hawke’s face towards the end.
*Ben Stiller. Hahaha. What an unfortunate haircut.