Movie Mondays: How Twee are Thee?

~posted by Frank

The publication of Marc Spitz’s new book Twee: The Gentle Revolution in Music, Books, Television, Fashion and Film has sparked a discussion about what, exactly, twee is. Spitz’s interview on Slate sheds some light, but it’s hardly definitive. When I think of twee, I think of quirky, sensitive, emotionally complex characters and a highly stylized aesthetic. In fact, these traits describe the two films currently sitting atop the library’s daily list of most popular DVDs – The Grand Budapest Hotel and HerIf those were your cup of tea, check out these four films from a few years ago.

Beginners (2011) stars Ewan McGregor as Oliver, who embarks on a relationship (his fifth attempt at love) with Anna (Mélanie Laurent) months after he loses his father Hal (Christopher Plummer, in an Oscar winning role) to cancer – and after Hal came out as gay after 44 years of marriage. Sometimes sweet, often sad, Beginners ultimately gives viewers hope that the power of love and connection can change your life at any age.

(500) Days of Summer (2009) is a delightful, and original, romantic comedy about the 500 day relationship between sweet but shy Tom (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and whimsical, free-spirited Summer (Zooey Deschanel). Volleying back and forth in time, it captures the lovesick feeling at the beginning of a relationship – perfectly captured in a dance number to Hall and Oates’ “You Make My Dreams” – and the pain that comes when it ends.

Thumbsucker (2005) is the first feature from director Mike Mills (who also directed Beginners) and based on the novel by Walter Kirn. Justin (Lou Taylor Pucci) is 17, and still sucks his thumb. His attempts to finally break free of this habit, with help from his dentist (Keanu Reeves) who imparts quasi-philosophical advice, puts his life as well as his parents (Tilda Swinton and Vincent D’Onofrio) in chaos.

Humpday (2009) – filmed in Seattle by local filmmaker Lynn Shelton – follows Ben and Andrew (Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard), two friends who come together after years apart and who agree – drunk, at a party – to participate in a gay porn movie as a testament to art and to the power of the bromance. It’s brilliantly funny and crushingly awkward, but the sincerity of their affection for each other earns this film its twee stripes.

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