Dirtbag ★★

For a director garnering infamy on this site for disavowing his own work (see: Pine, Bath Tub, Wave Sounds) and generally cluttering the "Popular Reviews" section of each movie he reviews, it's a revelation to see what he believes is worth celebrating. And it's perhaps a little harrowing to see it on so many major festival line-ups, possibly with the benefit of name recognition from a popular (mediocre) YouTube channel. Not that short film festival line-ups aren't already flooded with overproduced and weirdly expensive Dirtbags, though the most egregious examples are more out of nepotism than whatever success Karsten Runquist has stumbled into, let alone his method in doing so.

When his professors at DePaul stare into the void of Runquist's to-date most successful cinematic venture, I feel they should ask themselves how a talented young man could graduate with a BFA in their program and still be left with nothing to say. As if he picked up storytelling because there was a hole in his heart where meaning should be.

A tragic case of an artist attempting the rhythm and absurdity of comedy without having felt anything for anyone besides a smug superiority to those not as indebted to empty insincerity as he is. As if art is an act of defense for the day Cinema Sins comes knocking. He can throw up his hands and say it's all a joke and that there's nothing embarrassing about it. A two-word lowercase response to standard expectation, preferably on a Twitter thread to be reaffirmed by his followers for being too cool to have a heart.

Dirtbag is a director's fear of failure. He tried the sincere experiments, Letterboxd threw them out. And so he comes back with limp defensive absurdism that can seemingly deflect all critique. It's SUPPOSED to be bad, I suppose. Because Runquist has tried being good at the whole art thing and it hasn't worked out for him thus far.

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