Frownland Ronald Bronstein

Frownland Ronald Bronstein
Frownland wallows in unrelenting ugliness. Anyone can go to dark places, be horribly obtuse and make creepy faces. But if you're like Keith, selling bogus Multiple Sclerosis coupons, living in the half of a kitchen not occupied by the stove and fridge, unable to express anything but a string of "ums, wells" and pitiful apologies for being a "burbling troll," maybe you have the right. In the opening scene, Keith's female friend sets the dismal tone with her uncontrollable weeping. We don't know what's upset her but it only get worse when she realizes the down in Keith's pillows gives her face a nasty rash. He sputters some incoherent sentiments about not being able to express his emotions then holds his eyes open in order to shed a few fraudulent tears. Keith endures a series of humiliating rejections, the most entertaining of which is a blistering condemnation of everything viewers have come to hate about him by an arrogant musician roommate. This dreary minimalism has impressed influential critics, if not distributors ― filmmaker Ronald Bronstein eventually had to release it himself. Roger Ebert, The Village Voice and the SXSW fest called Frownland everything from "the rebirth of the underground" to "an uncompromising vision." I'm not sure of the former but it certainly is the latter. It's bleak, but I'm not sure I see the bravery in a character grinding his jaw and stuttering for an hour-and-a-half. Others readily dismiss it as they would Harmony Korine's Trash Humpers because they simply don't want to endure anything this gloomy. The term "miserabilist" has been used to describe both films, but at least Korine's misery had some achingly beautiful shots. Still, Bronstein has accomplished something impressive with a crew of less than five people. The film belongs in the same category of DIY gems like the painful films of Lodge Kerrigan (Keane and Clean, Shaven). In the opening scene, Keith's friend sticks him with a pushpin, that's a bit what Frownland feels like, and select audiences will dig that. (Factory 25)