Monday, January 31, 2011

Little men indeed.

Shut Up Little Man is a Sundance documentary that is well enough made, but left me cold. In the late 1980s, two guys (Eddie and Mitch) moved into a dive of a San Francisco apartment.  Their next door neighbors Raymond (a homophobe) and Peter (a gay man) loved to fight.  And since walls were thin, Eddie and Mitch could hear much of the arguments.  Soon, the two were pushing a microphone out their window so they could record Raymond and Peter's arguments including Raymond's catch phrase, "Shut up little man."

The cassette tapes of Raymond and Peter's arguments became an underground sensation.  Eddie and Mitch begin making a living off the tragic lives of their neighbors.  And that exploitation continues with this movie.  Maybe that's why I didn't like Shut Up Little Man.  Sure, Eddie and Mitch want me to believe that what they are doing is art.  But as they package up CDs and send them to those who have paid money to get access to the troubles of others, I couldn't help but feel sad, not for Raymond and Peter, but for Eddie and Mitch. 

The ending scenes of the movie, as the film makers force their way into the dingy apartment of Raymond and Peter's friend just to get the footage they need to make the film extra sensational, are awful.  A little kindness would have gone a long in this film.

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