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Ghost World (2001)

Directed by Terry Zwigoff Comic by Daniel Clowes Written by Daniel Clowes & Terry Zwigoff

  Best intro ever? Perhaps. It certainly was a great introduction of what lay ahead in the film; referring to the Jaan Pehechaan Ho dance. The duo of Zwigoff and Clowes sounding familiar as they later worked on Art School Confidential. However I seem to have a greater appreciation for the two after their latter film, as you can’t deny how well they work with one another. Or that because Clowes himself attended Art school and Terry’s previous documentary entitled Crumb further proved any esteem for the subject of, life from an Artist’s perspective. Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) have just graduated high school with nothing more than some “extroverted, obnoxious, pseudo-bohemian losers.” Enid lives with her father and feels blatantly disrespected, not caring for his mindless conversation starters that only seem to anger her further. Finding solace in drawing random strangers and following people in hopes of getting to make fun of them. Finding an ad in which the guy seems so pathetic that his hopes to relive, was probably a moment within his own mind. She leaves a message to meet up with him, pretending to be “the blonde.” Finding the man to be Seymor, (Steve Buscemi) a loner and collector whose “sunny disposition” had been hit with a hard case of midlife crisis. She then makes it her priority to become friends with him to find out more about this man with such unfortunate luck. Though finds herself liking a lot of the stuff he collects and their shared hatred for what seemed trendy in the eyes of others. Torn between her “must not conform” schtick and it running her life in every way imaginable as her outlook remained selfish. The downside of her summer being Rebecca’s sudden attitude adjustment and having to retake Art class with Roberta Allsworth (Illeana Douglas). The in class moments were too funny to not share and otherwise, would not have done justice to how great of portrayals the characters were. I’ve sure had an Art teacher like this.

   Though the outcome yielded a full scholarship to an Art Institute which she eventually ends up losing, due to a controversial submitted piece. Her interest in Seymour growing they spent together, though merely a mirage created for losing touch with her best friend. Everyone around her was a hypocrite that didn’t seem to mind becoming just another machine in the system. Though the other side of that argument being that you still are not being original if not doing something to prove a point to others. Your just conforming to being a tempestuous nuisance, which is worse. (If you’ve seen SLC Punk; think Daria’s world and the characters) When “the blonde” ends up getting out of the relationship in at the time and gives Seymour an actual call, they begin dating, though not having many things even liking about her. Feeling ignored, Enid begins confronting him on several occasions as to why all of a sudden, they couldn’t spend time together. Which was her problem right there. Because she was lonely, she took it out on Seymour, who she ultimately does end up having a slight crush on. Left alone again stung worse that her friend “gave in” to society to get a job and start life on her own. Her solution? Giving herself to him and speaking briefly on moving in while in a drunken rant. So what do you think happens? She messed with his mind further and ignores him all together until hearing of admittance into the hospital. Oh, the tangled webs we weave. 

  Sometimes self discovery ends with you not liking the results so much. The ending didn’t try to be cliché and pretend everything somehow fixed itself. Enid leaves broken promises and doesn’t bother with goodbyes. She just, leaves. I thought it would be the only reasonable option for a young woman as herself. “Be Somebody” To imply one would need a dark humor in order to fully “get” the film would be a bit of an understatement. Otherwise it seems slow and as though your constantly waiting for the punchline, you’re gonna be waiting! Her reasoning for deciding to pick up and leave boiling down to a regular interaction with Norman, a supposed senile man who waits for a bus that was never going to show up. The one thing she could count on. Except that it eventually does, and he’s picked up; so there went that logic.

   The ensemble cast seemed so random and almost as though picked by selecting Actors names out of a fish bowl; but it did work well.  Brad Renfro had two weeks to film his part as Josh, a convenient store clerk the girls enjoyed torturing. Though the only comical moment was when Enid went to introduce Seymour to him and he dropped the sundae making for a child at the time, who began crying immediately. Dave Sheridan played a hilarious side character of Doug; a shirtless red neck who just as much enjoyed torturing the owner of the store he hung out constantly. Ashley Peldon was the one in Art class capable of the “higher” capacity to achieve what was actually considered Art. Though I did wonder if that was the case, why Enid got the Scholarship when it was made as though she was somewhat disliked by her teacher at first. Peldon played younger Kitty in That 70’s Show and was spot on in that department, equally adding humor to her small role in this film. I also can’t say that I’ve ever seen Steve Buscemi in anything that I haven’t liked him in. He tends to work within the circle of movie makers and Actors that I’ve always enjoyed so, it only makes sense of the greatness he’s able to display for his audiences. Leaving Scar Jo and Birch who worked so accurately to portray best friends whose path no longer included the other. People change or worse, they don’t and ways must be parted at that point if either is to feel as though they’re getting what they want from their own life. In my own opinion of course. While unfortunate, I rather choose to see such as simply, clearing out the mess you no longer need. If anything I’ve said rings a bell or you enjoy any of the cast members while appreciating a good laugh at the irony of life, then certainly something to check out.