Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Billy The Kid - Q&A

The official Billy the Kid site includes this synopsis:

"BILLY THE KID is a sensitive and humorous vérité portrait of Billy, a 15-year-old outsider growing up in small-town Maine. Billy appears, in many ways, like other teenage boys. He's into heavy metal and martial arts, is desperate to find a girlfriend, and aspires to a career as an actor and rock star. Yet in other ways Billy is unique. A troubled past and ongoing behavioral issues have left him marked. But he is unapologetic about his personality and refuses to be victimized, creating his own techniques to help him survive in an environment of pain, conformity, and prejudice. Billy is funny, sharp, strangely wise for his age, and remarkably candid. We witness life from his perspective—from intimate conversations with his mother, to being bullied at school, to his fantasies of becoming a superhero. We also experience the exhilarating pangs of first love as Billy pursues Heather, a shy 16-year-old waitress. Will Billy get the girl? Will his community accept him on his own terms? BILLY THE KID challenges viewers to imagine themselves beyond labels."

Theft of the official synopsis is an editorial decision driven not entirely by sloth. The facts are set forth briefly and lucidly, we can do no better. The questions are subjective and evoke the films merits, which are significant. We must, however, add some Q & A of our own.

Why did the lady next to me bring a purse full of wax paper and spend the first ten minutes of the movie crinkling it? There is no known answer to this question, but we can't blame it on Jennifer Venditti, a veteran casting director making her directorial debut.

Why did the same lady begin snoring halfway through the picture? Tough day, warm theater, recurring struggle with narcolepsy - all possible, but Billy The Kid was making a lot of people drowsy - this is real cinema verite (someday I will learn how to do accent marks- until then you must live with that troubling verite/real redundancy) and the pace of life is slow sometimes.

Why was Billy so incredibly comfortable in front of the camera? A) It was there so often he just got used to it, like many documentary subjects B) Billy constantly gushes his inner thoughts. Fifteen year olds generally self -censor any utterance that might subject them to the disdain of their peers, but Billy never pauses for a coolness edit. Unlike his peers, he's living in the open all the time, adding the camera just doesn't dent this guy's psyche. C) Billy is lonely and desperate for listeners, the microphone and camera, and Heather for that matter, are a welcome opportunity to gush to an audience. D) With few peer relationships, Billy learned life from the movies, now he gets to live one. E) All of the above.

What will happen to Billy? - Middle school and high school are the pits - the years when conformity matters most and even casual contact with a misfit like Billy can brand you a geek by association. Billy has some big problems, villainous father, vanishing step-father, Asperger's -but he has some real assets. He's a bright, noble, courageous guy with a caring mom who might become a happy lawyer, blogger or a comedian someday if he can just survive high school.

Where can I see this movie, should I see this movie? Watch Cinemax and HBO listings, Billy the Kid should appear soon. Billy comes right at you and grabs you (unless, perhaps, you were very popular in high school). Watch the first twenty minutes carefully, if the pace is putting you to sleep you will still leave the TV on while you are doing something else, I don't think you will shut Billy off totally.


mhass30 said...

I saw this in January. What happened to seeing movies BEFORE they came out?

mhass30 said...

also...when I saw it the director and "writer" were giving the Q & A.

Michael H said...

Coolidge Corner Theater in Brookline, MA hosted screenings, with Billy The Kid Director Jennifer Venditti and John Elder Robison, author of "Look Me In The Eye" an autobiography of life with Asperger's. The film was screened at many other festivals and forums, winning several awards. Chuck Rose's Filmmakers Symposium in New Jersey also included a Q and A with Ms Venditti.