Monday, January 23, 2017

The Dirties (2013)

Number Rolled: 82
Movie Name/Year: The Dirties (2013)
Tagline: We’re just here for the bad guys.
Genre: Drama, Indie
Length: 82 minutes
Rating: NR
Production Companies: Zapruder Films, XYZ Films, Kevin Smith Movie Club
Producer: Alison Arnot, Matt Johnson, Step Johnson, Matthew Miller, Evan Morgan, Jared Raab
Director: Matt Johnson
Writer: Josh Boles, Matt Johnson, Matthew Miller, Evan Morgan
Actors: Matt Johnson, Owen Williams, Padraig Singal, Ross Hill, Krista Madison, Shailene Garnett, Josh Boles, Brandon Wickens, Alen Delain, Paul Daniel Ayotte, Jordan Foster, David Matheson, Jay McCarrol, Dan Fewings, Alison Arnot
Stunt Doubles: None

Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English

Blurb from Netflix: Two film geeks make a movie about getting revenge on a group of bullies who target them at school. Then they decide to take things a step further.

Selina’s Point of View:
Bullying is a subject that hits very close to home for me, but this film bypassed the general stories about bullies and went a much more violent route than I took. The Dirties is a very gritty, honest look at the minds of teens on the wrong end of other student’s puberty. It’s frightening and morbid… and relatable.

Clearly, I never shot up my school. That doesn’t mean I didn’t fantasize about punching people in the face, it just means I never actually held a gun to their heads. No. My response to the bullies that latched on to me, was to stop going.

Starting in Junior High, I just… stopped.

It’s easy to judge the main characters of this story, or kids lashing out in general, but there’s one simple fact that is very clearly highlighted in this film. One person who cares. One person getting involved. One person trying to help… can be the difference between life and death.

I’m not sympathizing with school shooters. I feel like I don’t need to say anything about that because it’s obvious – that road is the wrong one. What I’m saying is that sometimes, that end result could have been prevented.

I’ve heard a lot of arguments against that thought. My favorite one is, “why didn’t they just tell one of their teachers?” Another version being: “if they’d told an adult, someone would have stepped in.” That’s not always true. When it is true, it’s not always helpful.

Let me explain.

In Junior High School, I sat next to a horrible boy in science class. I still remember his name clear as day and, over a decade later, I still hate him to the core of my being. His name was Alex.

Every day I would sit next to him in class and every day he would strike up conversation. For about a week, I took the bait. Five sentences in, he would begin saying some the most rapey things to me that you could possibly imagine. Even after I stopped taking the bait, he would continue on.

This went on for a month before I told my science teacher I wasn’t comfortable sitting next to him.

My science teacher told me to get over it. I believe his name was Mr. Katz. He was the least of my worries, though.

Since he wouldn’t listen to me, I told the next teacher I saw on any given day – my Social Studies teacher, Mr. Orlando.

I don’t know what went through Mr. Orlando’s head when I told him, in a whispered tone, the things that Alex was saying to me. I don’t know if he didn’t believe me, or if he didn’t care… but instead of doing something about it, he thought it would make an amazing lesson for the kids in class.

So he made a mock trial out of it.

Alex and I both got ‘lawyers’ (other kids in the class). We called witnesses and we testified ourselves. I can’t remember if Mr. Orlando was the judge or if one of the other kids in the class was chosen for the ‘part’. I didn’t care, but not taking part wasn’t an option. He threatened to fail me.

I was humiliated. The stupid ‘trial’ went on for about a week of classes and the majority of it is a blur at this time in my life. I still remember some things very clearly, though.

The teacher made me testify in front of the whole class. As a pre-teen, I felt incredibly uncomfortable telling ANYONE what Alex was saying to me. Hell, as an adult that has since attended a porn convention, I still feel uncomfortable. So, I didn’t say it out-loud. I said I couldn’t. The ‘lawyer’ that was acting for Alex made a big deal out of the fact that I couldn’t say any of it out loud and, by the end of the trial, I had lost.

Not only had Mr. Orlando taken something humiliating and degrading and amped it up to max, but I lost the bullshit trial and was forced to continue sitting next to Alex for the rest of that Science class. I believed every student in the school believed that I was a pervert liar. I felt incredibly alone.

And then people wondered why I started cutting class.

I started cutting class because I wanted to die while I was there. Every second that I spent in any classroom in that school made me want to kill myself. I never trusted another authority figure again.

Anne Sullivan. P.S. 238. I’m convinced that if there is a hell, that place would be it. I’m not even sure I’d categorize the Mr. Orlando bullshit as the worst of what happened to me there.

People watch films like The Dirties and they doubt that things could get that bad. They doubt that teachers could be so oblivious. They doubt that friends could stay silent instead of turning people in or getting help. I promise you that movies like this are not stretching the truth. Bullies can destroy lives, even at that age. I often wonder where I would be if things like that hadn’t happened to me back then. If the people I thought I could count on had gotten me help.

There was one person during JHS that actually tried to help me near the end… but things only really got better much later on in my life.

The Dirties didn’t sugar coat things. I think that’s incredibly important in a film like this.

It was, however, full of cringe, which I don’t really do well with, even though it drove home the point of the film. It showed the signs as other people should have seen them. It showed the downward spiral. It showed the switch from internalizing to externalizing so well that you could almost pin-point the moment when it happened.

It was a first film for many of the people involved and, keeping that in mind, it was a very good start for them. The writers and the director have a great deal of potential in them. I was particularly fond of the open ending. I’ve mentioned in the past that I really enjoy films that have an ending that allow people to debate over what happened.

Hell, I’m still arguing with my friend Kris over what happened at the end of In Bruges (2008).

I would definitely recommend this film and - if you do watch it - pay attention.

Cat’s Point of View:
I’m going to be blunt here. I hated this movie. Here’s where it gets tricky – the hate isn’t a bad thing.

Matt Johnson (Diamond Tongue, How Heavy This Hammer, Operation Avalanche), whom wrote, directed, and starred in the movie, took a serious risk here. The movie had ‘hot-button’ and ‘trigger warning’ all over it.

As a debut movie from someone fresh out of film school, it’s not too shabby. Hell, it got the attention of Kevin Smith (Cop Out, Red State, Tusk) whom became a distributor and champion of this little film that could. It was discovered after winning a film festival prize, and Smith came aboard with his Kevin Smith Movie Club project.

Smith has touted this film as something important to watch. Now that I have, I don’t see myself ever doing it again.

I remember clearly the day Columbine happened. I know where I was, and what I was doing. I was at work and on the phone with a customer when a streaming news service ticker went across my monitor describing the situation in progress. It’s one of those things you just don’t forget. It’s worrisome to me that I don’t have the same visceral memory for Sandy Hook. It makes me begin to question how desensitized I am.

There’s a real issue that this pokes at. School bullying is an age-old problem. I was bullied quite a bit when I was younger. I had a funny name, red hair, glasses, and freckles. Later, it was that I read a lot or it was my weight as eating my feelings had become just as much an escape for me as the books I disappeared into were. Sometimes it was as simple as others not willing to move beyond the stupid mistakes of youth. Music is what saved me from the spiral I could have so easily fallen into – but that’s a story for another time.

Needless to say, the issues spotlighted by this movie resonated with me – uncomfortably so. I wanted to turn it off. I felt squirmy.

I feel I must tip my hat to this movie, in spite of my abhorrence, for its boldness and the relatively smooth camera work. This was supposed to be a found-footage sort of project. It did not, however, suffer from obnoxious levels of shaky-cam. All of my squirminess came from the movie, itself – and not motion sickness.

Alas, as I generally base my score on my enjoyment of the movie – it is going to be rather low. It would really depend on the potential audience as to whether I would recommend it to others or not.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 79%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 74%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 3/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score2/5

The Random Rating: R

P.S. There are some images during the beginning of the credits.

Movie Trailer:

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