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And You Thought You Fucked Up In College

Wrt/Dir: Austin Chick
Str. Mark Ruffalo, Kathleen Robinson, Petra Wright, Maya Stange
Opens April 11th

Mark Ruffalo wearing a classic Bedford hipster ensemble and oozing sticky charm the way that he does, opens XX/YY by walking into a subway, jumping the turn style (to show how bad ass he is) and generally being that sweet but sexy package I so greatly missed in View From The Top. Nice to see him back on his game. From there the movie quickly descends into the wet dream of every lonely guy on Craig's List's Missed Connections: Coles Burroughs (possibly the most fictitious name in cinematic history) finds himself in a three-way with a cute sprightly college girl (Stange) and an old cast member of Bev 90210 (Robinson). Could it get any better, you wonder? Well no, but yes.

Free Williamsburg
Film Archive


Cowboy Bebop
Better Luck Tomorrow
View From the Top

Laurel Canyon

Ordinary Sinner
Dark Blue
The Quiet American


Hell House
Good Housekeeping
Roger Dodger
Spirited Away
Punch-Drunk Love
Bowling For Columbine
Scarlet Diva
Full Frontal
Sex and Lucia
The Powerpuff Girls Movie
Read My Lips (Sur Mes Levres)
The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Human Nature
Shot in the Heart
Jim Brown: All American
Stolen Summer
Ram Dass: Fierce Grace

XX/YY starts out on very rocky ground. The first half of the movie, which takes place in 1993, feels a little too much like an indie movie trying hard to be independent. I grant you this translates to lots of semi-gratuitous naked flesh, but the earnestness of the writing feels out of place. Couple that with clichéd lines like "I want to make movies. Movies that make people think" and it becomes a little hard to swallow. Don't get me wrong, I love indie, but you know when you walk into the cheese section of a really good Upper East Side grocery store? All that stinky cheese becomes a little overwhelming; XX/XY smells of indie just a little too much.

Chick chooses, a la In The Bedroom, to leave out a score and rely almost exclusively on 'of the moment music' (there's only music if someone is listening to the stereo for example). This can be a very dangerous choice and while it does leave some dragging gaps in the dialogue it gives the moment where there are music that much more of an impact. While it falters from the get-go, there are some moments where the conversation sparkles, and the acting is good across the board (yes, even the chick from 90210). Also the piles of sex and drugs and stupid college things the kids do bring up some well-loved nostalgia.

Once the second half of the movie starts, however, everything changes. Set in the present time, the movie no longer feels mired in the memories of college. The writing is clearer and the wit sharper. Coles' character, which feels somewhat two dimensional in the beginning, grows exponentially; this, not because Chick decides to give him more depth, but because you slowly learn how complex he is and always has been.

Also in the second half Petra Wright joins the party and gives an astonishing performance as Claire, Coles' current girlfriend. She is flat out brilliant. Wright, alone, carries much of the second half of the movie but Ruffalo also shines as a spineless, immature kid who never grew up. Ultimately, while not without some very brilliant merits, XX/YY is also not without its faults.

The Ratings

Four gorgeous bubbly boy butts

Not to be lewd or anything, but there is a lot of Mark Ruffalo's ass wandering in and out of the camera shots here. I don't know what they were supposed to symbolize or anything, but thank you, Mr. Chick!

Three sticks in the mud, and other, even lamer clichés

The real problems arise from the clichéd dialog peppered throughout the film. Maya Stange can't get "Can you find it in your heart to forgive me" out of her mouth without wincing a little bit. The lines feel more like puns, jokes than real pieces of dialogue. The groans from the audience that accompanied these lines were far too telltale.

Two oversexed, under-loved hipsters

The first forty minutes of the film feel directionless and sophomoric. However, there are subtle touches to the dialogue and some very remarkable shots that prove Chick's prowess and ensure him a future in the business. The dialogue between Ruffalo and Wright while they floss their teeth, for example, and the shot that accompanies it is brilliant.

--B.C. Edwards
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[email protected] | April 2003 | Issue 37
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