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Four Eyed Monsters (2005)

DVD Cover (Less Life Lived)
Directors:
Susan Buice Susan Buice
Arin Crumley Arin Crumley
Starring:
Susan Buice Susan Buice
Arin Crumley Arin Crumley
Julia Ann Ames Julia Ann Ames
Lindsey Andersen Lindsey Andersen
Derik Babtiste Derik Babtiste

6.2 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Genres: Comedy, Comedy Drama, Domestic Comedy, Romantic Comedy
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: October 02, 2005
Fifteen minutes into this film, I seriously considered walking out and heading down to the Birmingham Museum of Art to catch the second screening of "The Dry Spell". Fifteen minutes into this film, I didn't know what the hell I was watching. An arthouse piece? A documentary? A romantic comedy? Make up your mind! Thank God, the film finally leveled out, introduced us to two different characters, and then made its true intentions known. "Four-Eyed Monsters" is one of those rare cinematic treats, a film that is both wholly original and wholly entertaining. The only reason the first fifteen minutes suffered is because the film was going through a sordid identity crisis. Once it came into its own, it really blossomed, and those first fifteen minutes fell right into place. The film seems like more of a labor of love than anything else, from one filmmaker to another. You could tell from the direction and the performances that this was a truly personal movie making experience. That feeling drips from every scene and every piece of musical score. "Four-Eyed Monsters" was a not a film I had intended on seeing at the festival this year, but I am glad I did, for I can say it truly took me by surprise. It is one of the highlights of the weakest festival to date.

Our primary characters here are Arin Crumley and Susan Buice. Arin works as a videographer and does wedding videos and such to pay the bills. He is lonely, awkward, and spends way too much time online. Susan is a wannabe painter, who really does lack the necessary talent. She works as a waitress at night and is also lonely and looking for romance. The two meet on the internet and decide to embark on an odd sort of relationship. They opt not to speak to one another -- merely to write down their words and feeling on paper. This is their way of not conforming to what society considers normal. The film chronicles their romantic journey from conception to fruition, to the backdrop of various men and women giving their stories and insight into relationships, love, and life. These are the scenes and montages that give this film the feel of a documentary. However, we soon splice back to the ensuing love story and realize this is a total narrative feature. These two people find one another online and carry out their relationship through technology, modern art, and anything else they can get their hands on. In a weird way, this film seemed like a modern day "Romeo and Juliet", without the bickering families and the tragic ending. Okay, bad comparison. This film was just a modern day fractured fairy tale with a happy ending.

I mentioned earlier how personal this film seemed. I am willing to bet that a good portion of this footage was real, between the two directors. Their performances are startling in their realism, and their emotional complexity easily transfers from the screen to our neurotransmitors. Arin and Susan obviously have feelings for one another, but are both too shy and too bruised on the inside to handle those feelings in a normal manner. There is one especially revealing scene where one of Susan's ex-boyfriends opens up about their relationship, revealing his physical abuse towards her. This one scene really helps us to understand her in a different way than before. There is another equally interesting sequence involving Arin's fear that Susan has given him a sexually transmitted disease. It is here when we realize that Susan is probably the only woman Arin has ever been with, despite what he says earlier in the film. His mannerisms and behavior concerning the situation do nothing but confirm this possibility. However, my favorite scene of the film was actually a commercial for a safe haven for artists known as Studio Vermont, where they go to any measures to fulfill artistic achievement, including locking the artists in their rooms and forcing them into terrible artistic situations. The video was both hilarious and slightly disturbing.

The biggest problem I had with the film was the ending. I am not certain if the ending reveals that the film is documentary, or if the ending reveals that this is merely a narrative feature pretending to be a documentary. All the ending did for me was to confuse me more than I needed to be confused. When Arin breaks down upon being accepted to the festival, that scene felt awkward and uncertain. It also came much too quickly and without any foreshadowing. I know audiences cannot always expect a film to be wrapped in a neat little bow, but I wanted more from the ending. I had problems with the happy ending, even though I enjoyed the characters and thought they made a great couple. I would have loved to have seen an ending more akin to "Lost In Translation", with Arin finally speaking to Susan, but the audience not hearing what is said. That would have had more impact on me than the documentary-esque ending provided. Don't get me wrong -- I enjoyed the film, but I was disappointed with an ending that could have been so much more profound than it turned out to be.

In summation, "Four-Eyed Monsters" was a gem at the festival this year. It found a wanting audience, and I think it has a bright future ahead of it. It certainly shows how powerful digital remains to be in Hollywood, and it introduces audiences to some fresh and creative talent in the movie business. I don't expect any kind of release for this film, but I do expect lengthy careers for the two filmmakers attached, especially if their future efforts have half the heart of this one. Sidewalk is a place where you go to be taken off-guard and this film did just that. "Four-Eyed Monsters" was not the best of the festival, but it certainly felt so at the time. If you catch this at a festival near you, give it a try. It should test your limits.

7/10.
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Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg #1: Kari Byron's Sex Cyborg - added 06/11/2007, 05:22 PM
The filmmakers recently uploaded the whole movie on YouTube, but it'll only be up for a few more days.
I think they did a great job presenting the story with all the various techniques and different perspectives used, giving the film a nice touch. Even though I don't think they should have gone the way they did with the ending, it didn't bother me too much since you could say it actually gave the film more meaning and depth.
7.5/10
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