Sunday, September 4, 2016

"Antibirth": Who Says It's Bad To Be Unique?

                                                                                          Before the screening of his film “Antibirth” writer-director Danny Perez told the nearly packed theater at International House a story about trying to make it in L.A. after moving from Philly. He recalls driving to an agent’s office for a meeting and, along the way, seeing all of the billboards for upcoming new movies and TV shows — a big screen adaptation of 80’s small screen hit “McGyver” some movie where Kevin Spacey plays a man trapped in the body of a cat.

“Danny, you’re unique” said the agent, who had already seen “Antibirth.” 
Somewhat perplexed by the agent’s somber delivery, Perez asked “That’s a good thing, right?”  
“No, Danny, that’s a bad thing.”

“Antibirth” might be called unique even though it so reverently pays homage to the cult classics of the 80’s that it feels oddly familiar even though Perez demonstrates enough vision to put a fresh, sometimes artsy spin on tradition. It is his own film, with its own vibe, its own rules, rebellious, anarchistic and Perez comes off as a filmmaker completely in control, determinedly confident in his vision.

The film is not for everyone. In fact, it is probably not for most people. Natasha Lyonne throws herself full force into her performance as an unabashed hardcore small town party girl — though, her character Lou, now well into being a thirtysomething, is long past party-girlhood and more into something resembling a sloppy skid-row drunk. After blacking out during an all night party in an abandoned warehouse, Lou starts feeling strange and comes to realize that she might be pregnant even though she has no recollection of hooking up with anyone. Needless to say, peeling skin, giant blisters full of fluid and a rapidly expanding mid-section soon indicate that pregnancy might be the least of her concerns. What follows is by turns hilarious and disgusting, all over the place narratively, frequently beautiful to look at and ultimately pretty compelling. Perez has things on his mind, it’s not just about empty spectacle, he comes off as an unpretentious funny, intelligent who sees things in the world —- “people filling themselves with toxicity” — and wants to say something about it.    

Watching it, I felt like I was witnessing the birth of a cult classic, maybe a post-modern neo cult classic but definitely a film that will find a small but passionate audience. That works for me. Maybe being “unique” is not such a bad thing. Sure, moving forward, finding representation, financing and distribution is still going to be hard but it seems like that is the way it is for anyone not making a $150,000,000 sequel to a tentpole blockbuster. I am both inspired to continue trying to do what I am trying to do and also really looking forward to Danny Perez’ next film. 

1 comment:

  1. thanks for your perspective here. i appreciate it