May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

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Mr Sausage
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May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#1 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:51 am

Have you seen May, TWBB? While not as baroque in its depiction, its my go-to example of a film successfully and sympathetically inhabiting the subjectivity of a psychologically disturbed, socially isolated woman descending into a full blown psychotic episode. (Sorry for hissing like a snake all through that! So much alliteration...). A good one for the horror project. It’ll probably make my list.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: The Films of 2020

#2 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:36 pm

Mr Sausage wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:51 am
Have you seen May, TWBB? While not as baroque in its depiction, its my go-to example of a film successfully and sympathetically inhabiting the subjectivity of a psychologically disturbed, socially isolated woman descending into a full blown psychotic episode. (Sorry for hissing like a snake all through that! So much alliteration...). A good one for the horror project. It’ll probably make my list.
Wow, that sounds right up my alley! I actually had this one on reserve from reading through mfunk's rec in the Detention thread, but this brings it up a few notches in priority watching.

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mfunk9786
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#3 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:03 pm

Let Roger Ebert's 4 star review do the rest of the work

Sadly, McKee's career has really stalled out since, though The Woman is worth a look too, for all its flaws

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senseabove
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#4 Post by senseabove » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:03 pm

I haven't seen it in years, but I adored May back in my Renting Everything That Looks Weird from the New Releases Section at Blockbuster youth... Pleased to see it pop us as a recommendation all these years later. Someone made off with my DVD and I've kinda hoped/assumed one of those labels I only pay glancing attention to would rescue it with an absurdly deluxe edition at some point...
Last edited by senseabove on Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mfunk9786
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#5 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:05 pm

I wound up not having the constitution to argue with people over movies they hadn't seen in the original Horror List project (see that thread for much melting down, if my memory serves), but my spotlight of this film and subsequent users catching up with it is a nice legacy to have left from that experiment - and a recent viewing confirms that it still holds up very well. And that Anna Faris is a national treasure who never quite got the star vehicle she deserved. And don't get me started on Angela Bettis.

Senseabove, I'm not sure how amenable you are to digital purchasing vs disc, but the film is available in 1080p via streaming. Not an ideal solution, but for films like this and Birth and some others that are in that DVD-only purgatory, it's better than nothing.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#6 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:56 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:05 pm
Anna Faris is a national treasure who never quite got the star vehicle she deserved.
Well now I might have to resort to alternative methods to see this immediately, totally agree on Faris and even mentioning her name triggers some nostalgic source that needs a fix

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knives
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#7 Post by knives » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:03 pm

I totally see her succeeding later on in supporting roles like Allison Janey.

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swo17
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#8 Post by swo17 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:04 pm

Are you saying that because they're in that show together?

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knives
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#9 Post by knives » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:06 pm

I didn't know that. I just think they have similar comedic energy even if different personas.

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mfunk9786
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#10 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:06 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:56 pm
mfunk9786 wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:05 pm
Anna Faris is a national treasure who never quite got the star vehicle she deserved.
Well now I might have to resort to alternative methods to see this immediately, totally agree on Faris and even mentioning her name triggers some nostalgic source that needs a fix
It's only $7.99 to buy digitally right now from YouTube, iTunes, Vudu, Microsoft, and Google.

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mfunk9786
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#11 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:08 pm

knives wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:06 pm
I didn't know that.
I don't believe you. The degree of coincidence is much too powerful.

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knives
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#12 Post by knives » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:09 pm

Okay?

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domino harvey
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#13 Post by domino harvey » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:25 pm

My writeup from the Horror List
domino harvey wrote:
Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:53 pm

May (Lucky McKee 2002) --mfunk9786 Spotlight-- Fascinating and slickly-made character study of a deeply damaged young woman whose social awkwardness and anxieties have rendered her not just cracked but shattered-- and as the film's visual metaphor explains, you can't glue a thousand shards of glass back into a display case anymore than May can be helped. As the film barrels deeper and deeper into the psychosis of the titular character, it only bolsters the empathy of the viewer to this poor woman who was probably beyond help long before the rejections and alienations pushed her over the edge. Credit to Angela Bettis for her striking portrayal and McKee for his sure hand in letting the downslide unfold towards its inevitable yet weirdly sweet culmination. Great Spotlight, mfunk (and LQ, I presume), this is a film I would not have sought out on my own

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Mr Sausage
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Re: The Films of 2020

#14 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:59 pm

therewillbeblus wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:36 pm
Mr Sausage wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:51 am
Have you seen May, TWBB? While not as baroque in its depiction, its my go-to example of a film successfully and sympathetically inhabiting the subjectivity of a psychologically disturbed, socially isolated woman descending into a full blown psychotic episode. (Sorry for hissing like a snake all through that! So much alliteration...). A good one for the horror project. It’ll probably make my list.
Wow, that sounds right up my alley! I actually had this one on reserve from reading through mfunk's rec in the Detention thread, but this brings it up a few notches in priority watching.
At the risk of inaugurating another thread split, definitely throw in Marina de Van's In My Skin to your pile of troubled-woman-descending-into-mental-breakdown films. It's a more disturbing, body-centric horror film than May, more clinical in its observations, and sees human psychology as at bottom unfathomable. May is firmly in the camp of trying to empathize with disordered thinking and the pain it causes the sufferer.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#15 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Feb 11, 2020 6:10 pm

That one is currently only held at one library in the minuteman network, and it happens to be the one in the town I work. Leaving now to get it - thanks!

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Mr Sausage
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May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#16 Post by Mr Sausage » Tue Feb 11, 2020 6:12 pm

Tell you what, if you’d like to nominate 2 horrors for me to watch and comment on in the Horror list thread, I’m down for a kind of swapsie thing.

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mfunk9786
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#17 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 6:15 pm

Vox Lux and The Young Pope

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therewillbeblus
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#18 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Feb 11, 2020 6:17 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 6:15 pm
Vox Lux and The Young Pope
I'm still waiting for the other 12 people who voted for Vox Lux to chime in! Thank you Sausage for doing so even though you didn't vote for it, and I'm down - I'll think on it and get back to you!

filmivore
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#19 Post by filmivore » Tue Feb 11, 2020 11:00 pm

Just as an FYI, May has had a Blu-ray release for over a year now. There were three limited edition variants and one standard edition, all region free and still available through amazon.de https://www.blu-ray.com/movies/May-Blu-ray/223414/ I own one of the variant covers and the movie itself is a nice upgrade over the DVD.

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mfunk9786
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#20 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:26 am

Oh wow, thank you!!

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brundlefly
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#21 Post by brundlefly » Wed Feb 12, 2020 2:56 am

mfunk9786 wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:03 pm

Sadly, McKee's career has really stalled out since, though The Woman is worth a look too, for all its flaws
I remember The Woman as being great because it was flawed; something that ugly should always be riddled with asterisks and questionable taste. It's probably even more problematic now, and possibly even better? Though the lead actor's GW Bush impersonation would need a Queens makeover. Lock her up, lock her up. Shudder.

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thirtyframesasecond
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#22 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Wed Feb 12, 2020 4:12 am

I really liked May too and Angela Bettis of course is the mother in The Woman
SpoilerShow
her death really shocked me but I guess she was complicit in tolerating her husband's behaviour, even though she was clearly disgusted by it
.

Apparently Pollyana McIntosh has directed a sequel....

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JamesF
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#23 Post by JamesF » Wed Feb 12, 2020 7:50 am

Yes, McIntosh recently directed Darlin', which is already out in the US. The Woman was also a loose sequel to Offspring, directed by The Woman's producer Andrew van den Houten. McIntosh plays the same character in all three, and of course Jack Ketchum wrote the original Offspring novel and co-wrote The Woman.

On the subject of loose sequels to McKee films, he and Angela Bettis swapped roles a few years after May on a film called Roman, which is still her only directorial credit (other than a segment of The ABCs of Death) and covers similar territory, with McKee in the lead. (Kristen Bell also has an early supporting role.)

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mfunk9786
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#24 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Feb 12, 2020 1:17 pm

Roman is OK, but a big step down from May - I would also recommend the Masters of Horror episode "Sick Girl," which is another Bettis/McKee collab and more of a spiritual sister to May

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therewillbeblus
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Re: May (Lucky McKee, 2002)

#25 Post by therewillbeblus » Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:43 pm

First and foremost, a hearty thank you to Sausage and mfunk for recommending this one, which ended up being a far more eccentric and talented exercise in directing than I anticipated even with the praise. McKee does a fantastic job setting the tone here, issuing style at the appropriate moments and panning back to create jarring yet necessary meditations on real-time discomfort to mimic May’s experience. The former stylistic presentations mirror her voyeuristic fantasy world as she watches her crush or the mannerisms of Faris, or people at the bus stop, as well as interactions that don’t involve initiation from her agency (Faris’ kiss). The slowing down comes without the security of her coping mechanisms, when she is forcing herself into contact with the social world sans distractions, like that cringing first kiss moment (not Faris) or the painful voicemail message, phone calls etc etc. It’s not complicated but subtle and intelligent strokes from McKee as we walk in Angela Bettis’ subjective space and learn to feel comfortable by her own defensive psychological safety nets and protective filters, as well as distraught by her particular deficits, or so we think.

Bettis is fantastic and plays both extremes of emotion and everything in between perfectly until she starts blending herself in step with McKee and the rules we had established in the first third become meshed as she becomes undone. A great example is the fantasy getting ready leading up to the abrasive cut from montage as she shows up at the door clearly stalking but no longer socially anxious, instead confident which triggers our own discomfort and breaks the rules set up for the characters’ social reactions!
SpoilerShow
(This idea is repeated a few times including the very ending, which moves from a borderline black-comedy camp montage to full-stop devastating isolation)


As her behavior becomes more erratic and frightening to us but no longer to herself, the change-up is as uncomfortable in its unpredictability within the film as it is between us and our understanding of normal human behavior in our social world. The film breaks two rules, inside and out; and keeps altering them until by the halfway point I surrendered to the ride (even small moments like when he opens the door and talks about her to his friends as she’s standing there aren’t overly dramatized or surreal but eerily evoking paranoia in their coincidental targeting). In fact, this film is so populated with coincidental run-ins that it plays like one long cognitive distortion, a psychotic narrative encompassing a skewed perspective of mania, elation, confusion and bouts of clarity within a bizarro world. Faris is also excellent as the intensely extroverted friend with poor boundaries and weird enough social skills to forge an unlikely bond that itself contains no detectable logic to its dynamic.

It’s safe to say I absolutely loved this film. The empathy never wilts even when the film refuses to sacrifice sensation for sensitivity, and that’s a tough balancing act, to embody genre touches, technical playfulness, and bizarre expositions that separate the viewer from comprehension of distinguishing reality in the film’s second half (the creepy daycare scene, what the fuck). The subjective-objective blurring ultimately must be read as subjective, but including us and our own contextual readings along the way is a risky venture that makes this a bit less accessible than one might expect, but so much more rewarding. As I mentioned before, the mood-jump on the final pattern at the end is among the film’s most effective moments and one of the more powerful tonal shifts I can think of, bringing us back to where we realize we’ve been all along: validating Amy’s humanity divorced from her actions. How many movies about a character who follows her path of action can you say that about? How many horror movies? Brilliant.

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