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FUNNY HA HA

Andrew Bujalskiís accomplished, seductive debut film is such a slice of life that it has no real beginning or end but is all middle. Thatís appropriate, perhaps, for a portrait of a nascent twentysomething struggling in the cocoon of a post-student Allston apartment and a string of temporary jobs and even more ephemeral relationships. Played with note-perfect uncertainty by Kate Dollenmayer, Marnie opens the film at a tattoo parlor, where the proprietor refuses to oblige her because sheís drunk. This foiled attempt at permanency sets the tone for the half-conscious, non-articulated efforts at contact and clarity in coffeeshops, at casual parties, and on park benches. Although capturing formlessness, Bujalskiís film is cannily shaped itself. In one sad image, Marnie sprawls on a stairway writing that ultimate document of despair, the to-do list. In the next episode, sheís exploiting the infatuation of charmless Mitchell (Bujalski) by engaging him in chess and basketball, two items on the list. That Mitchell himself then manipulates Marnie with pitiful results adds to the irony, if not the clarity. I look forward to seeing what this brilliant talent accomplishes when he and his characters grow up. (90 minutes)

BY PETER KEOUGH

Issue Date: April 15 - 21, 2005
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