I wonder how long it will take before Robert Taicher's Shut Yer Dirty Little Mouth will be included in the Balboa Theater's annual "Reel San Francisco" program? Afterall, this "weird gem" (as Melissa Levine terms it) is lifted from the lives of two men who lived near Haight and Steiner during the 1980s. Their drunken battles pitched to a state of absurdity became notorious among neighbors and, eventually—through clandestine taping—to the rest of the world as well. "Locked in a bald and ugly battle for survival," Levine explains, "they invite nothing so much as cheer."
Michael Hawley first exposed me to the infamous "Shut up, little man!" tapes, and the film adaptation Shut Yer Dirty Little Mouth (which, Michael advises, first screened at IndieFEST 2002) has returned to SF for its official World Theatrical Premiere. I caught it Saturday evening at the Little Roxie. The film is basically structured as a series of skits parallel to the taped fights. Glenn Shadix, as the effete and obese Pete, and Gill Gayle as the blinddrunk Ray do an admirable job of adding some meat to a skeletal script through intonation, inflection, facial expressions, and comic repetition. But just like the tapes, the movie begins to wear thin towards the end and what is at first novel humor deteriorates into something sad, uncomfortable, tiresome and embarrassing.
Perhaps the exaggerated relations between Pete and Ray allow each of us to consider the compromises we make to craft relationship and to cohabit space. Shut Yer Dirty Little Mouth is not as cruel as Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, the badgering and the shouting come off as a functional co-dependency. And when Ray finally dies while having a fantasy of strangling Pete, Pete survives to begrudge Ray his solitude. It isn't fun to drink alone.
Here's the official website with trailers:
And Melissa Levine's favorable review for the S.F. Weekly:
Jonathan Marlow interviews director Robert Taicher for Greencine: