Not in My Backyard (The Tenants)

Just saw a really miserably half-baked movie, The Tenants. It stars that tall drink of water, Dylan McDermott Mulroney, as a clever friend calls him, and that too-tall drink of water, Snoop Dogg, as two writers eating each other for breakfast in an otherwise-vacated Brooklyn apartment house. Via a blank-faced traffic-in-woman paradigm named Irene. I think. For a minute I thought this film’s one asset was its rather beautiful set design, but even for a low-budget movie, its anachronisms were hard to overlook. (Um, who carried a doggy pooper scooper in early ’70s Red Hook? Who drove a Prius, for that matter?)

Why bother to rant? A critic’s job is to filter crap movies so that those with more honorable occupations don’t have to waste their leisure time. But I just got back from Sundance, where pretty much every American independent dramatic feature was crap. The few ones that didn’t completely shank, like Little Miss Sunshine, were bought and sold before you could utter the words NOT CRAP. Which is the only possible reason why a movie as weak-sister as The Tenants scored distribution besides its bankable stars.

Why have American indies hit such a complete wall? Why are the only good films shown right now coming from overseas? Why are the few American dramas that don’t suck and aren’t completely derivative, like Forty Shades of Blue or anything by Andrew Bujalksi, languishing in unheated art houses in overly rarified cities like NYC or LA while Starsky and His Boyfriend King Kong subsume two screens at every megaplex theater?

Given that so few movies that I see really rock, and given that the marriage of commerce and art is what distracts most of us who in a different era would be burning bras or the Capitol, I’m very curious about who’s buying what — and whom. Look for a series of interviews about distribution here at The Broad View in the months to come. As well as an imminent redesign. And if anyone wants to help me with said redesign, give me a holler. Not, I might add, a holla. Hollas are so 2004. So speaketh this broad.


"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy