Here's Jason reporting on the Joss Whedon-scripted In Your Eyes out of Tribeca.
In 2007 when Radiohead released their album In Rainbows directly online for fans, asking them to pay whatever they wanted for it, it was kind of a big deal. Made some headlines. Yes smaller acts had done it before, but this was one of the biggest bands in the world (the biggest if you ask me, but I'm monstrously biased) tossing the old models right out the window. At this point six years later it's become pretty old hat for any sort of entertainment - movie-wise if it's not a movie that needs to be seen in IMAX there's a good chance I will end up watching it at home now, thanks to my amped-up home-theater system and an encroaching case of hermit-itis, but also the ease and speed with which these things become available now.
But I have to admit, even with as many movies as I've taken to downloading over the past couple of years, I still got that ol' In Rainbows thrill when I read the news about Joss Whedon releasing his latest movie (written, not directed, but that really didn't stop people from thinking of Cabin in the Woods as his either) this way. [More...]
Granted it didn't mean much since I read the news only a few hours before I was seeing In Your Eyes at a Tribeca Film Festival screening anyway, but here was the newly crowned and christened Hollywood Big Dude dropping his latest entertainment just like poof that great world-wide pond - was it gonna sink or swim?
I haven't checked the numbers on how the film's done - I'm sure Whedon's faithful showed up and forked over the five bucks, just like the Radiohead disciples did (I myself bought the deluxe edition of In Rainbows with all the fancy art-work - holla if you're brainwashed), but really if it's this post-production release strategy that's become the topic of conversation that's because the film itself feels kind of like an after-thought; I think it probably felt like kind of an after-thought from the get-go. When you've made the biggest movie in all the world I imagine it becomes easier to take a vacation and film your mildly-famous friends play-acting Shakespeare and get that released in a couple hundred theaters, or to dust off old scripts laying in your drawer and get them made for what it costs The Avengers' team to tailor Chris Evans' tights so well around his ample body parts. I'm just imagining, but it seems easier to do those things.
In Your Eyes kind of feels like an episode of Buffy that never happened - one morning Buffy wakes up and she's staring at the walls of The Initiative - what the what? And over in his bunker Riley's staring at a college dorm-room, Willow snoring away beside him - double what-the-what!?!? Why they have an inxplicable psychic link! Was it a demon? A dancing demon? Hijinks ensue, and they learn to love each other a little more, til fifty-two minutes later the end. In Your Eyes does have an ace up its sleeve - Zoe Kazan and Michael Stahl David seem to have stumbled upon some charm on their way here (I've never really been a fan of either actor before), and they make their scenes of standing talking at the air much more lively than you might think they could be.
Plenty of that credit goes to Joss' dialogue obviously - when the movie allows these two folks to just banter back and forth we're witnessing what the man does best; the foundation upon which his fortune is built. Credit ought to be given to the editing in these sequences as well though - there are extended passages where you do forget you're watching two talking heads staring off towards middle-distance (a sex-scene finds the correct wacko footing too) and the movie allows you to vibe on their weird little wavelength.
But the movie around these moments of inward-directed banter and outward-aimed masurbation seems to exist just to make these isloted moments possible, as if the script was just an exercise in crafting conversation that Joss took upon himself - nobody finds any ocean of plot to surround these islands of chatter with. Sketchy doesn't even begin to cover how thin the concept remains - a metaphor's fine, but believable human people ask questions, and you're leaving your characters and our investment in them hanging out to dry if you don't allow them any agency or curiosity about their circumstances. Instead a bunch of outside forces grab them by their ears and drag them this way and that, tossed to the wind, and I guess we're supposed to follow because stars in our eyes, or something. A wise philosopher once said "Don't piss on my boots and tell me it's raining" - Joss, my boots are straight-up stuck in the mud.