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kenmorefield

It's Such a Beautiful Day

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I almost hate to start a thread just to say, "Yeah, I didn't like it...." (Then again, if this keeps getting nominated but nobody ever actually makes a thread about it, is it really that beloved....?

Sort of the anti-Man Who Planted Trees. First five minutes was funny and quirky and charming. Next five, I was like, 'Is the whole movie going to be this way...?" 

It was. 

I actually saw "Rejected" at the Kudzu Film Festival in Athens, Georgia circa 2001. It was funny and delightful and I always just assumed whenever I caught up with Hertzfeldt's later work that I would be similarly enraptured. But this just felt like all of posmodernism's nihilism and hopelessness combined with all of modernism's infatuation with stream-of-consciousness. Are there 1 minute bits that are beautiful and poetic? Absolutely. But try reading 300 non narrative poems in a row....even if they are by Whitman or Dickinson, it gets old pretty fast. 

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I only caught up with this because it was nominated and Hetrzfeldt made it free to stream during the pandemic.

The film stuck with me not because it was "quirky and charming." That was far from my first reaction. Instead I was fascinated with how Hertzfeldt is able to tackle some really challenging material, about the tenuousness of our subjectivity, the fragility of our memories and how essential they are to our sense of identity, and the terror of long-term illness, and all through stick figures! I think reducing it to nihilism and hopelessness is reductive, frankly. I don't think it's really about post-modernism.

I'm not sure that I'm going to vote it super high on the list, to be honest, but I guess your reaction struck me as ungenerous and missing the point.


"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

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Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

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I was really pleasantly surprised to see this show on the list of nominations. My impression had been that Hertzfeldt-affinity was largely the property of a younger generation that (like me) came of age with internet video and followed (and probably pushed) the quirky, post-modern off-beatness of what he and the likes of Bo Burnham and Dan Harmon were doing in a sort of natural progression from "because the Internet" into a more mainstream niche. 

I'm the proud owner of a Kickstarter exclusive Blu-ray of this film, but I'm not sure if it holds a special place in my heart because of its own merit or because YouTube clips of "Rejected" played such a formative part of my youth. 

Edited by Jeremy Ratzlaff

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When I first watched It's Such a Beautiful Day (this was after having seen and been floored by World of Tomorrow), I had a similar reaction to Ken: it was initially charming, but began to feel like the same idea repeated or dragged out from a 5-minute short to an hour-long feature, and I was more exhausted by it than elated or affected. Lots I could appreciate, but little I could love. But when I watched it again recently, something had changed, and I was profoundly moved by it. Maybe it was me, maybe it was the timing (I was teaching a course on "the problem of evil" this semester, so philosophical views of death and existence has been on my mind), but I "got" whatever it is Hertzfeldt is doing with this film.

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Joel, given my response to It's Such a Beautiful Day, do you recommend I try to screen World of Tomorrow? How do you weigh the films versus each other?

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Ken, World of Tomorrow is a *far* more mature work in terms of both form and content (and it's less than 20 minutes!). Both have the melancholic tone and dark humor, but the pacing of World of Tomorrow is much smoother and less draining, and its ideas about memory, time, technology, and existence are far more complex. And WoT is more...cute.

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