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Take This Waltz: Variations on Indie Nothingness

“Why is my life, like, so, like, you know?”

Written and Directed by Sarah Polley
Starring Michelle Williams, Seth Rogan, Luke Kirby, Sarah Silverman

Canadian writer/director Sarah Polley (from Away With Her fame) has delivered to us yet another quirky, Indie flick about a lost, charming girl, her adorable husband, and the hunky man who threatens to take her heart. Probably don’t bother with this film. Freelance writer Margot (Michelle Williams) is happily married to her adoring, teddy-bear-like husband Lou (Seth Rogan), however, their relationship has turned into a cuddly comfort rather than the electrifying lust of a new romance. Insert Prince Charming. Daniel (Luke Kirby) is the mysterious and good-looking neighbour who swoons in with all the right words at the right time.

Margot and Luke have intense chemistry, – there is one particular scene where Luke describes in detail all the romantic and sexual things he could do to her and I swear I could hear the women in the audience clutch their pearls and fan themselves – and this chemistry threatens to break the happy and comfortable foundation Margot and Lou have created for themselves. Margot has to make the decision to stay with the familiarity and tenderness of her husband Lou, or to cut off her comfort and embrace the sparks of a new relationship.

The movie sounds set up for a fairly decent, intriguing love triangle, right? Well, yes and no. First of all, Michelle Williams gives it her best shot with our completely two-dimensional and frankly boring protagonist, Margot. The beginning of the film has a lot of hope for this character: she’s perfectly normal rather than your typical, beautiful, bird-like heroine, so before she even opens her mouth, women can relate to her. She’s fresh-faced without makeup, untouched hair and wears ordinary clothes. And yet, somehow, Sarah Polley has managed to indulge in an overly clichéd, struggling, eccentric-gal routine, with some of Margot’s quirks including being wheeled around airports in a wheelchair (even though she can walk perfectly fine), peeing in public swimming pools and generally being a cutesie, bubbly, baby-talking wifey.

Whenever Polley fails to deliver decent, in-depth dialogue, Williams has to resort to looking sad at the camera while soft folk music plays in the background. However, when she’s not staring off into a metaphorical void, she attempts to show the curious emotion on her character’s face through an impressive range of facial twitches and wild bursts of hysterical laughter. On a more positive note, the most stellar performances come from the comedic actors Seth Rogan and Sarah Silverman, with Rogan giving the most heart-breaking, tear-jerking scene in the whole movie. His entire character is completely endearing and likeable but most importantly, he’s believable.

Having only seen Seth Rogan play a burnt-out pothead or a struggling comedian, I was surprised to see such an honest and brutal performance from him. His character saved the film for me when I no longer cared for Margot’s outcome in life and instead I wanted to know more about him and what he was going to do. The same goes for Silverman’s character, Geraldine, who is Lou’s sister and a recovering alcoholic who delivers some serious truth-bombs to Margot. One of the most memorable lines in the films comes from Geraldine when she earnestly tells Margot, “Life has a gap in it…It just does. You don’t go crazy trying to fill it.” Damn straight.

Our man-candy, Luke (Kirby), didn’t do too bad of a job either; even though his character was a little clichéd – laid-back artist who doesn’t like to showcase his work, like, sooo dreamy right? – he still managed to be likeable and relatable. It was just Margot that I wanted to throttle. A little harsh, I know, but see it for yourself and you can decide. Or, just see it for the full-frontal naked scene with Michelle Williams. Whatever. In all, the movie had all the ingredients for a half-decent, enjoyable Indie film: great cast, well shot, interesting plot, “complex” characters etc., but it still failed to deliver anything with any heart or meaning. I predict that Take This Waltz will fall into art-house obscurity, or will be loved by hipster high-school girls. Shame.

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Review: Snakadaktal and Alison Wonderland @ Villa Nightclub Friday 30th March

I hate clubs. Without a doubt every dirty club I’ve managed to stumble in has been overflowing with the following elements: that drunk girl sobbing her heart out on the pavement outside because he-didn’t-call-me-and-why-doesn’t-he-love-me-and-am-I-pretty? Before then throwing up onto her “friend’s” shoes who’s desperately trying to calm her down while secretly hoping he’s going to get a gobby that night. I then proceed to walk in and am bumped into by sweaty sixteen-year-old boys in basketball v-neck t-shirts, who apologise for spilling their slush-bucket-mohito drink down my dress. As I squeeze my way through the smoky dance-floor (smoky due to the tacky fog-machine and the collective stale breath of screaming eighteen-year-olds) I’m stabbed repeatedly in the feet by the torturous stilettos of a thousand booty-shaking girls. Until, finally I’ve arrived at the side stage where I’m able to stand relatively peacefully until a line of pissed blokes try to determine whether I’m a guy or not before shamelessly hitting on me.

And that’s just at Villa. After waiting a solid twenty minutes to order my vodka and tonic, I finally get to relax a little and watch a handful of genuinely trendy teenagers make some seriously beautiful music. Snakadaktal are a five-piece indie-pop band from Melbourne who were made famous by that one song played on Triple J incessantly. Last year, they won the Unearthed High competition and have since recorded an EP, made some groovy YouTube videos and have this year been touring around Australia pleasing peoples eardrums with their delightful tunes. Like 99 per cent of the crowd I had rocked up to the gig knowing only that one song , and was pleasantly surprised when they began the set with dancey-pop tunes and very mature harmonies. I noticed among the skinny, flannel-clad hipsters with who were stealthily stealing drinks (standard club move; we’ve all been there) that everyone was happily bobbing their heads along to the droning beat of synthesised pop which sounded very familiar to Foals last album.

The band themselves were having a great time dancing bare-footed and glittered on stage producing song after song of tight, well-written material. As always the drummer was having the most fun bashing awkwardly away at the drums which seemed too small for him, reminding me of the gawky boys in high school who’d shot up in year eleven and hadn’t quite gotten used to their long arms and tall frames. The crowd woo-hoo’d and yippee’d when the band finally played Air – their song made famous on Triple J, and the band clearly loved the feel of a roomful of people singing along in jumbled unison to their lyrics. At every pause and new song I was honestly surprised at how grown-up and professional these kids were, every song being perfect to the tee and producing sounds that I can confidently say I did not hate. Despite my sarcasm and genuine contempt for everything, I can’t stress enough how good this band was. You can find their delicious tunes on the Unearthed website or good ol’ fashioned Myspace.

At 1am Sydney DJ Alison Wonderland boogied her way onto the stage in her six-inch, killer heals, and immediately started producing some funky beats interspersed with the odd Daft Punk chorus and Beastie Boys tune. Despite her freakish energy, I was in no way feeling up to sticking around for another 2 hours to watch the set, but I’m guessing it was much of a muchness. My friend and I walked home after stopping off in a dirty Maccas with our ears ringing, our dresses sticky with alco-pops and the satisfaction of a good night.

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