Friday, May 14, 2010

Movie of the Month: Part 18 

I recently reviewed the follow- ing film for Video Librarian, and thought the results were worth sharing. 

BEESWAX [***1/2] 
(Andrew Bujalski, US, 100 mins.) 

Andrew Bujalski continues his winning streak of insightful independent features with Beeswax. Sisters Tilly and Maggie Hatcher play twins Jeannie and Lauren, who live in Austin, site of Bujalski's first film, Funny Ha Ha. Jeannie, who uses a wheelchair, runs a vintage clothing shop and fears that her business partner, Amanda (Anne Dodge), may cost her the store. 

Amanda, whose father drafted their contract, is often out of town, spends little time in Storyville, and even hires employees without consulting her. Jeannie's fear permeates every scene, even when more mundane things, a Bujalski specialty, seem to be happening.


By contrast, Lauren isn't irresponsible or aimless, but she lacks Jeannie's focus and ambition. Between jobs and newly single (Goliath director David Zellner plays her ex-boyfriend), she considers taking a teaching position in Kenya. Bujalski presents their relationship with sensitivity, but steers clear of sentimentality. 

Similarly, he doesn’t play Jeannie's disability for laughter or tears; it's just a part of her life. She doesn't feel sorry for herself and nor do her companions treat her like anything less than an equal, from her mother to her on-and-off-again law student boyfriend Merrill (Woodpecker director Alex Karpovsky), but the way they all try to help out with her career conundrum could end up doing more harm than good (hence the title allusion to "mind your own beeswax"). In a quiet and understated way, Bujalski's matter-of-fact detailing of her everyday life feels almost feels revolutionary. 

Supplements include a "tribute to extras" featurette with directorial commentary, actor Kevin Corrigan's affectionate liner notes (he doesn't appear in the film), and D.J. Taitelbaum's alternate score, a minimalist electronic affair (the filmmaker otherwise eschews a conventional soundtrack). Highly recommended. 

Click here for a review of Bujalski's Mutual Appreciation and here for Movie of the Month, Part 17: The Missing Person


Endnote: Slightly revised from the original text. Image from

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