Friday, December 5, 2008

Let them mumble awhile

Nathan Lee reviews Let Them Chirp Awhile today in the Times:

Having heard once too often that his outfit is kind of lame, Bobby (Justin Rice), a useless East Village hipster, tucks into the American Apparel store on Houston Street and picks out a baby blue T-shirt with some help from Charlotte (Charlotte Af Geijerstam), a failed actress in hot pants and leg warmers. Later they meet for a drink and commiserate about their boring, complacent, privileged lives.

The old city,” Bobby muses, “like the one that I dreamed about, the one from the movies. It’s not there anymore. Maybe we’re both just maladjusted, you know, like we’re living in the past.”

And thus, for one brief moment, does “Let Them Chirp Awhile” acknowledge the source of its painfully unsympathetic take on postcollegiate New Yorkers who think themselves artists but don’t have an original thought in their heads.

Written and directed by Jonathan Blitstein, the movie really does live in an imaginary past, the one immortalized in classic Woody Allen films. How else to explain why Bobby and his circle of friends name-drop Chekhov, pontificate on Bergman, crack tired jokes about Los Angeles and spend all their time either failing at relationships or kvetching about their inadequacies while whimsical jazz coos on the soundtrack?

This sort of thing was indulgent enough the first time around; transplanted to the mumblecore milieu, it’s intolerable.

The Voice, meanwhile, says that while the narrative falls apart, it remains pretty hilarious from scene to scene. Time Out gives it three stars out of six.

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