Monday, October 28, 2013

I Used to Be Darker

Kim Taylor displays her excellent 
musical (and acting) chops, but she 
deserves more from this uneven movie

     I wish we’d seen more of that darkness or, rather, the back-story to the movie.  Matthew Porterfield, the director and co-screenwriter, has a great subject for a movie:  a middle-aged married couple who are both talented musicians have
reached an impasse because the husband pulled out of music to provide very well for his family, while the wife has steadily kept composing and performing and is on the cusp of a greater profile just as their daughter is coming home from her first year of college.  The stresses have pulled them apart and it starts with the wife choosing to move out.  Unfortunately, the plot centers more on the wife’s passive-aggressive, teenage Irish niece whose vulnerability is less interesting to this viewer.

The Family in Much Happier Times
     Kim Taylor plays Kim, the mother, and she’s the main reason to see this movie.  She’s an intelligent, bohemian artist, though I wondered what her musical concentration meant to her daughter.  It’s something that needed to be teased out because the daughter is much angrier with her mother than her father.  Ned Oldham is Bill, the father, and he can perform, but instead he’s become a materialist.  He considers Kim ‘his’ and later one of her band members plays host to the niece in Kim’s new home as if it’s his and it’s disconcerting because I thought she was trying to leave that type of paternalism behind.  Hannah Gross has a nice tension as the daughter Abby, but she doesn’t look like she’s Kim and Bill’s daughter; Deragh Campbell is Taryn, the niece, whose on-screen talent doesn't measure up to the rest of the cast.  

Dexter Joins the Jam Session at Kim's Home
     The best scenes are the musical performances. “American Child” is one of the best Folk-Rock songs of the past decade – right up there with gems by Joni Mitchell or Sarah McLachlan – and worth seeing for itself.  “Days like These” has an edge during the end credits because of what we can hear happening beyond the frame.  Bill sings after Kim has moved out her musical equipment and it’s a revelation of who he is as a character.  However, he then breaks his guitar and it feels wrong.  He might break Kim’s guitar, but why would he break something that’s his?  It goes against what’s been presented about him. 

On a much stronger artistic note, Kim Taylor’s album Love’s A Dog has been released and it’s classic.

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