Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ghost World (2001) - David Cross #11

Director: Terry Zwigoff
Runtime: 111 minutes  

Ghost World is an adaptation of the Daniel Clowes' comic of the same name.  It follows Enid (Thora Birch, American Beauty) and her friend Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) after they graduate from high school.  They're the prototypical outsiders, cynical and directionless, uninterested in leading the life society expects from them.  They decide to prank call a missed connections personal ad, and follow the man, Seymour(Steve Buscemi), around, eventually meeting him.  Rebecca and Enid drift apart as Rebecca starts focusing on getting a job and becoming part of the adult world, while Enid becomes closer to Seymour, discovering someone who she describes as "the exact opposite of all the things I hate."

The film is fantastic.  The character of Enid and the people around her are rendered with a strong sense of irony, but not mockery.  The insincerity of modern culture, whether it's the self-described "authentic" Blues music of an unremarkable hard rock band (composed of yuppie 20-somethings singing about picking cotton all day long, no less), or the reformed alcoholic teenager giving a speech about responsibility (and later seen drinking from a flask), drives Enid to the social fringe.  Like with her description of Seymour, Enid and people like her define themselves as much, or even more, by what they reject than by what they love.  Enid's attempts at employment end in disaster because she refuses to compromise, her sarcastic treatment of customers at the movie theater (beyond being a vicarious fantasy of everyone who works in the service industry) is just one of the more visible ways in which Enid's identity is incompatible with the 'real world.'

* * *

One other thing I really like about Ghost World is how well it captures the underground comic aesthetic.  Beyond things like color scheme, there's a focus on characters that appear for only a moment, but really stick in the mind.  Minor details make the world strange and slightly grotesque, often without being remarked upon.  For example, in one scene a clearly pregnant woman walks directly behind Scarlett Johansson's character, holding a beer in one hand while smoking a cigarette with the other.

Easter eggs abound
Ghost World is fantastic and I highly recommend it.

Rating: 


The Cross Section:

David Cross is credited on imdb as Gerrold, the Pushy Guy - Record Collector.  He's one of Seymour's record collector friends who briefly (and awkardly) hits on Rebecca.


Screentime: 

Cross only appears in one scene, and is never seen or referenced to again.

Character:

This isn't a criticism of Cross's performance, rather that the character is not distinctive, and could be played by anyone capable of smarminess. 








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