Services like Netflix and YouTube have made the most recent films readily available to anyone. Can we find anything of value in the muck of b-movies, ambitious failures and exploitative crap-fests? We’re going to find out in Dispatches from Instant View Purgatory.
What’re we watching: “Paper Heart,” comedian Charlyne Yi’s (the stoner girlfriend from “Knocked Up”) uber-twee brain child, most well known for being a “documentary” with multiple screenwriters, being a fraud and being forgotten about in a flood of Michael Cera movies, namely “Youth in Revolt.”
What does it look like: Go to cuteoverload.com. Whatever shows up on the screen, just imagine it with puppets, dull indie rock and whatever vindictive vision of a stereotypical hipster you have.
What’s going on: Yi decides to travel across the United States after she thinks she will never find love. She interviews a variety of people who have fallen in or out of love through hardship. She eventually meets Michael Cera, playing himself, and they date, fall in love and have to decide where the documentary ends and a relationship begins.
What works: Yi is really charming when she’s forced to interact with kids or anyone that makes her uncomfortable. She’s naturally awkward, even among people she trusts and it’s fun to see her shoot pool, shop or stand in the corner at parties.
What doesn’t: If you hate Michael Cera for his perceived inability to play a non-socially stunted character, you’re not going to find anything here to change your mind. He sleepwalks through the movie, only emoting when the script requires him to and it really shows. Also, the puppet sequences are so cloyingly, obnoxiously cute that it makes me want to vomit glitter.
Skip to: Without spoiling anything, Yi’s escape to Europe is beautifully shot as she wanders through the wet and dreary streets of Paris, utterly and completely alone. Her breakdown as the cameras follow her every move recalls Joaquin Phoenix’s stunning performance in “I’m Still Here.”
The Verdict: There’s going to be some people who are going to love “Paper Heart” and there are going to be some who find it cloying, banal, infantile and obnoxious. I fall into the latter camp. If you love the first 40 minutes of “Juno,” you should probably give Yi’s film a chance. If the last hour of “Juno” is all the death of forced quirk that you wanted, avoid “Paper Heart” at all costs.