By Andrew Stevens.
In the pre-internet age, the young, restless and inquisitive had to rely on word of mouth or occasional publications to feed their heads. In this function, Deadline could be relied on to in its front pages give a quick rundown of the latest releases, film and music, firmly steeped in that early 90s indie milieu but a little more leftfield and outre than the weekly music press were capable of. It was here that I first learned about Hal Hartley’s Amateur, which sparked off a fastidious loyalty to his films on my part that remained with me well into adulthood. Amateur currently sits at midpoint among his work, but at that point was Hartley at the peak of his powers, working with mainstay actor Martin Donovan. Another key aspect of the film in contrast to the rest is the presence of that early 90s indie milieu in soundtrack form, PJ Harvey, Pavement, My Bloody Valentine, Jesus Lizard, Bettie Serveert, Yo La Tengo, Red House Painters, they’re all here. In this respect, Amateur has far endured the more tiresome and overt attempts at ‘grunge’ film-making of that era, namely Cameron Crowe’s Singles (1992) and Antonia Bird’s Mad Love (1995) (and we’ll not mention the Tank Girl movie either).
First posted: Saturday, June 5th, 2010.