i hate myself :) Screen 5 articles

i hate myself :)


i hate myself :) Poster
  • Ugly to look at and even uglier to listen to, Joanna Arnow’s whiny documentary “i hate myself :)” plays like an especially brutal exercise in self-analysis. The therapist, in this case, is Ms. Arnow’s camera, which she wields remorselessly throughout her yearlong relationship with James, a would-be performance artist and a fully credentialed lush.

  • Despite some memorably painful moments and underlying artistic urgency, the film’s implications remain unprocessed and unquestioned. Trying to get her parents to watch the sex scenes, Arnow is intent on registering their appalled reactions; here, too, she remains the vulnerable but unexamined center of action.

  • Arnow’s first rough cut, already topped with the cherry of unsimulated sex, is subjected to a hall-of-mirrors effect, as she screens the film repeatedly for its cast of participants, each time photographing their reaction and inserting the footage into subsequent cuts. The trick is more than mere play, as the repetition creates a crazy centrifugal effect that latches onto and accelerates the transgression that Arnow rather joyfully embraces.

  • At first we marvel that this boor has managed to impose himself on Arnow, the mild-mannered victim. But as the doc progresses and the artifice of Arnow's process begins to intrude, it becomes clear that she is in surgical control over the proceedings.

  • Few documentarians give themselves to their work as literally as Arnow, who includes a scene of unsimulated sex between her and James in the finished film. When she screens i hate myself : ) for him, he shakes his head at the scene's inclusion. She merely responds: “It’s important.” In effect, the scene helps to tease out the filmmaker's fundamental interest in markers of illegitimacy, especially as it pertains to crossing an invisible line from artisan to pornographer in more conservative eyes.