The Plagiarists

The Plagiarists ★★★★

"On one level, The Plagiarists arises from one of the simplest impulses for making a film: to create something that resembles, in recognizable fashion, the day-to-day details and mundane concerns of one’s friends and peers. That the details in this case are extremely specific (the anxiety of the independent filmmaker who doesn’t actually want to 'create content') is both part of the point and a cause for concern; the self-reflexive aspects don’t feel cutesy but self-interrogatory, as if the film is questioning and undermining its own right to exist while proceeding forward nonetheless. On another level, the film is dead-on in its depiction of an endlessly fractious, mildly nightmarish couple and very funny, both explicitly and subtextually. The many generic music tracks scoring some scenes sound like exactly what they are: cues from Pond5, all duly credited at the end, a fine meta-joke about the current ubiquity of freely licensable generic music substituting for actual 'popular music.' (Can fake be just as good as real?) Percolating constantly throughout are concerns about class and race, often expressed with a cringe-inducing lack of ability on the part of the speakers to really take responsibility for, or acknowledge, their assumptions; it’s a very 'How we live, (n)ow' film. On yet another level, these assumptions are coming from somewhere; Tyler is exactly the kind of obnoxious guy who says things like 'I assumed you’d read that series.' If people recycle ideas nicked from hastily read web essays as their own insights in casual conversation, what’s the intellectual currency of their thoughts? Are they fully thought through, or just assimilated and rehashed, conversational filler accruing unearned credit to the speaker? That’s not exactly an unfamiliar sight."

Good job, Peter Parlow. I interviewed James N. Kienitz Wilkins and producer Paul Dallas here.