Saturday, December 24, 2011

"Young Adult" (as performed by Charlize Theron) brings back memories of my own "good old" days in Minneapolis

I was “attracted” to see “Young Adult” (dir. Jason Reitman) in part because of the Minnesota location. In fact, in the opening sequence, downtown Minneapolis is shown, and there are a couple of high rise balcony shots that appear to be taken of the Churchill Apartments (link), downtown, near the Post Office, two blocks from the Mississippi River. I lived in the Churchill for six years, from 1997-2003, on the PO side, the last two years in an end corner unit on the NE side. 
Charlize Theron plays fiction writer Mavis Gray. She’s not monster this time, but she is manipulative.  She journeys to “Mercury MN”  (I couldn’t find the town, but there is a company by that name in Faribault, 50 miles south of the Twin Cities on I-35) to hook up with a previous boy friend Buddy (Patrick Wilson, who had starred in “Little Children”), when Buddy’s wife unwisely invites her to a baby shower. It seems that there is love lost, and a tragedy behind it. The confrontation at the "party" gets quite ugly. I wouldn't get into anything like this myself.
She also consorts with a portly high school chum Matt (Patton Oswalt), who very early in the film tells the story of his being “gay-bashed” when he wasn’t gay – but left badly crippled “down south”.  His legs have surgical scars as a result.  That’s a little bit timely because a school district north of Minneapolis, normally seen as a “blue state” area, is having controversy over not doing enough about anti-gay bullying.
The script makes an interesting story of her career as a writer or, as she says at least twice, “author”.  Her teen-oriented series is not selling so well now.   I guess she suffers from the “midlist author” syndrome, much dreaded in old-fashioned trade book publishing. She has a confrontation with a young bookstore clerk (Brian McElhaney) when she wants to autograph all the books – and he says they are about to be sent back “to the publisher”.   In fact, a couple copies of my “Do Ask Do Tell” book were at the Barnes and Noble store in downtown Minneapolis for most of 1999 in the LGBT section.

There's a scene at a bar called "Cedar Saloon" (as I remember); actually, "The Saloon" is the most popular gay dance bar in Minneapolis (more popular than the Gay 90s in my experience; nevertheless, the 90s could have made for a good backdrop). 
I saw this at the AMC Shirlington Theater in Arlington, with a prefix for “AMC Independent”. Nevertheless, Paramount lists itself (rather than “Paramount Vantage”) as the US theatrical “distributor”.   (It seems that Paramount now brands films with Vantage only when foreign-sourced.) This is very much in the style of a small film (although the $12 million budget is substantial, probably because of Theron and Wilson in the cast – the movie hardly works without a lead like Charlize).  The production company, Mandate, has usually made smaller domestic films.  I didn’t see any credits for IFPMSP, but I did see the Minnesota Film Commission.   Some of the small town scenes were actually shot in Orange County, New York, however.    There is one scene that appears to be shot at an outdoor strip-mall in Roseville, MN on Highway 36 that I often visited. As for the references to writers, Minneapolis has a very strong National Writers Union group, and a screenwriting group, and a Mayberry award for local film.  
Here is the movie site.

First two pictures: from East balcony Apt 711 in the Churchill, winter 2003, where I lived.  I believe that motion picture companies often rented upper floor apts in the building.  Third picture, from the East Bank, my visit, June 2011; the Churchill is the first building behind the bridge. 

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