RIORI Vol 3, Installment 42: Nima Nourizadeh’s “Project X” (2012)


Project X


The Players…

Thomas Mann, Oliver Cooper, Jonathan Daniel Brown, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Alexis Knapp and Dax Flame (which simply cannot be a real name).


The Story…

Hey, it’s Thomas’ 17th birthday! And his folks are out of town for the weekend! We gotta throw a party, with babes, booze and bongs! But not too huge, just a few friends. Wouldn’t want the cops show up and bust us.

Yeah, just a few friends. And some of their friends, maybe. F*ck it. We’ll throw out invites on Facebook to spread the word. The more the merrier, right?

What could possibly go…who are we kidding?


The Rant…

Not sure where to start with this one. Here goes.

Years ago Paul Figgis’ Timecode hovered into my radar. To let you in, the film was an experiment simultaneously pairing stream of conscious, improvised acting with the entire film shot in one, long, hour and a half take. It was bold. It was daring. It was boring.

The concept was cool, but delivering a film in a single, straight line did no wonders for plot, tension or holding my attention. I watched Timecode out of commitment to this blog. Commitment being the key word, as in Bellevue bound. I like pudding.

Still, the “life in one day” aspect of the movie had its appeal. Might’ve been the only appeal. In some sense however, a straight line throughput to delivery a movie’s story cuts away the bullsh*t that might muddle the film proper. Come on. Ever seen a flick that was in desperate need of having the fat trimmed? Cleaved even? Get rid of the slow parts. Eliminate extraneous dialogue. Jump straight into the thick of it.

Hmm. Unsure on all points. The “day in the life” motif’s kind of an old device, even minus the single take thing. Problem is that if you want to make a film chronicling a single day, regardless of content, all that fat really should be there. Let’s face facts: take away the minutiae and there’s gonna be head’s a-being scratched. Something’s missing. It happened in Timecode to a degree, and it really hit the fan with Project X. 

The straight line effect a la single take has its place, when done well. Which isn’t often. That kind of thing is usually reserved for art house films and student projects. It’s a gimmick really.

Especially when the movie in question is nothing more than one big selfie…


Loser Thomas (Mann) is looking down 17 years on the planet, and doesn’t have much to show for it. No girlfriend, but at least his friend Kirby (Blanton) to pine for. Not a lot of friends, save his brothers in arms Kosta (Cooper), the lech and JB (Brown), the clueless. Hell, even his folks regard Thomas as an afterthought. Bummers all around.

It’s a good thing that Kosta smells opportunity disguised as…well, opportunity. Birthday time. Thomas’ mom and dad are off on a weekend vay-cay, and have implicit trust that no shenanigans will go down, because their kid is such a shrinking violet. Kosta figures—nay, declares that Thomas’ 17th birthday will be a bash for the angels.

Hell, he scored a bouncy tent already…


I’m gonna show my hand right now.

Project X is the worst movie I’ve ever seen here at RIORI.

Save that. It’s not really even a movie. It’s a music video in search of music. It’s an hour-and-a-half of mindless debauchery that we’ve all seen before in every goddam teen flick made since Edison’s railcar in Menlo Park. might’ve been regarded as satirical, but since it barely had any humor, it was nothing more than an exercise in dumb for dumbness’ sake. I f*ckng hated it.

Whew.

I wasn’t looking forward to watching it. Last installment’s take on Straw Dogs and taking extra time to watch the original as a control was a bit of a dodge. X landed in my queue before Dogs, and I couldn’t bring myself to watch the former first. My Netflix account is still old school, DVD by mail. I’d stream but my Wi-Fi sucks, so there. My microwave gets better reception. So landed in my mailbox weeks before both versions of Dogs touched down. And from what I learned about prior, I opted to watch Dogs squared beforehand. Then I procrastinated. Then I did laundry. Then I went to work. Then I took up whittling. Then I watched the original version of Dogs again.

Okay. Now then. In the name of professional courtesy—of which I have some—I will still break down the numbers. Loosely. Yeah, yeah. I’m an amateur. Save it. But rest assured, I’ll keep it short this time out. I have to, lest I face pissing blood and voting for Trump. Whatever’s worse.

First off, I’m unsure as to what the disclaimer at the movie’s start was all about. Disregarding the whole “day in the life” schtick, I could only suppose it was either a gimmick to make the film seem “dangerous” (Ooooo). Like this was a real event; a documentary by way of The Blair Witch Project mixed with too much vodka and Red Bull.

Instead, we have every boring cliche with every boring teenage mom-and-dad-are-away-so-we-teens-absolutely-must-party-ourselves-to-death movie in Christendom. And no, I’m neither resentful or jealous such sh*t never happened with me back in the day. I had my Nintendo and a well-stocked supply of Jergen’s and clean socks on hand, so to speak and thank you very much.

Ahem. Time to pick nits. I’ll be quick about it. Yer welcome. I’m just gonna run down what I scrawled in my notebook.

Who here is tired of the would-be ghetto fab white kid? Thought so.

Dax is a unique vehicle for breaking the fourth wall.

An attempt at a plot would be nice.

White to black and back again. And we ain’t talking lenses.

The editing is great. It’s ultimately what the films hangs on, really.

I wasn’t looking forward to seeing this movie. Now I know I was onto something.

Again, there’s something to be said about having a plot.

Okay. That’s it. I’d go into further detail, but there are none. Save this: this was the first time here at RIORI that I feel my bile was entirely justified. was derivative, winking and above all f*cking boring. The ultimate sin.

The end. See you on the flipside.


The Verdict…

Rent it or relent it? Relent it, for f*ck’s sake.


Stray Observations…

  • “Please respect my house.” A sign of things to come.
  • We all knew doofs like this in high school. If you didn’t you were one. Surprise.
  • “Even Wheelchair Bob got a blowjob!” Picture that. Stop crying.
  • Was Kosta’s sweater designed to be hated?
  • “You are literally retarded.”
  • Only pussies take tequila with lime and salt. Smart pussies.
  • “I gotta be at the dojo by five.”
  • Damn, Dax has some fleet feet.
  • “I’m understaffed!”
  • It’s nice to see that Verne Troyer was still able to find work. Kidding.

Next Installment…

Forget being a 21st Century digital boy, Robin Williams aspires to be the first android Bicentennial Man.


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