By: Black Irish
“Now he finds himself drifting into spells of reflection, thinking not in clear units, hard and linked, but only absorbing what comes, drawing things out of time and memory and into some dim space that bears his collected experience.” – Don DeLillo, Falling Man
Compared with contemporaries such as Bujalski and Katz, there is less mystery than analysis in his work. In their ability capture the inner state of his protagonists through an objective aesthetic, they become defined by the personalities of the individuals and more specifically the inherent dysfunction in their relationships as they either attempt to enter into or sustain them. As they strive to do so, they wrestle with feelings of frustration, loneliness, confusion and enclosure. These are ironically juxtaposed with the use of technology, focus on careers and, infamously, moments of nudity or physical intimacy. Respectively, these show the wedge formed in personal relationships when the former two are given excessive attention, as well as the divorce of physical and emotional connection in contemporary culture. Either due to self-absorption of an inability to solve their own problems, they seem ‘blind’, unintentionally or not, to the concerns of others and thus making it difficult to connect with others emotionally. Despite the evolution of his style, the cinematography has consistently played a role in conveying these effects, not least due to the inherent starkness of the digital image. The earlier films are in a more handheld-style, often up-close, making the surroundings seem even more limited and devoid of an immediately recognizable context of ‘where’ in order to focus on the ‘what’. However, the more recent films employ longer takes, as well as still, medium-length shots. While it maintains the atmosphere of a chamber drama [due to the aforementioned limited locations and continued use of small casts,] now the sense of isolation is heightened through the empty space and there is a stillness at once both calm and unsettling. In either period, all elements take on greater meaning as they must be interpreted as though the audience were a passive participant. Another significant change between these periods are in the conclusions. In the earlier ones, there’s a greater sense of closure and a definitive end to the proceedings. Now, the resolutions are not so clear, the general sense of ambiguity remaining unbroken. Perhaps this can be attributed to a shift in perspective, as Swanberg has gotten older and started a family, which is more content with leaving the endings more open to the imaginations and experiences of the audience.
Hannah Takes the Stairs (2007) -
- Silver Bullets (2011)
- All the Light in the Sky (2012)
- The Zone (2011)
- Art History (2011)
- Caitlin Plays Herself (2011)
- Autoerotic (2011)
- Privacy Settings (2011)
- Drinking Buddies (2013)
- Young American Bodies (2006)
- Swedish Blueballs (2008)
And Now For Something Completely Different:
NOTE: More descriptions and films will be slowly added to the list in the future.