I really like this thread. Mumblecore’s sort of a new term to me. But I always like films that look grainy and imperfect, films that aren’t totally polished. Not necessarily minimalist, although that often comes with the territory re low budget work. Today I think black and white film stock is the most expensive to shoot on of everything (a capitalist conspiracy?). Dogme 95 I think made the mistake of taking too much out of the mise-en-scene; their quest for some kind of absolute purity never had any real foundation as far as I could see. But the early antiteater films of Fassbinder, like Gods of the Plague and The American Soldier, those films just get better and better looking with time. There’s something eternal — and beautiful — about black and white.
Hitchock stated that the whenn sound came into film it jepordized all of cinema. This jepordy is ever so aparent in mumblecore cinema. Although intereting and very real take out the audio and the film is almost nothing. this obviously not true for all mumblecore some is quite amazing but much of it lacks direction and doesn’t really stand as a real film.
Sorry just one last quick note, I love some mumblecore while some I can’t stand so it’s kind of a hit and miss for me.
What the fuck is MUMBLECORE?
Mumblecore aka “Bedhead Cinema” and “Slackavetes”
> USA independent (virtually) zero budget digital video mostly improvised (“the non-actor as actor”) school of filmmaking from about 2000+
The stories revolve around 20-something mostly white male American angst. Actually angst is going too far. It’s like Gen X Slacker stuff, but downgraded/post-postmodernised to Y, or maybe even Z.
Hmmm, i see….. not for me.
Todd Rohal’s The Guatemalan Handshake is pretty good and well made. I prefer Aron Katz’ Quiet City over Dace Party, USA. Dance Party seemed to be the longest 65 minutes of my life although within that film lie one of the most real scenes in almost any modern film that I’ve ever seen.
Ok forget the hitchcock quote, The Puffy Chair and Mutual Appreciation are amazing and actually if you were to watch these movies on mute you would understand the story line just as well. Not only this but the little Mumblecore I’ve seen I have found very original and refreshing but then again I have seen very little.
The last great Ebert review I’ve read.
“The modestly named “mumblecore” movement in new American indies is not an earthquake like the French New Wave, more of a trembling in the shrubbery." About the best summation any man has come up with, I think.
I have yet to see a great mumblecore movie. This includes “The Puffy Chair”
Mumblecore has to be the dumbest piece of hipster lingo I have ever heard.
I started on Swanberg and like his later films.
Greta Gerwig (who got her start in the mumblecore movies) is going to be in Noah Baumbauch’s film “Greenberg” with Ben Stiller.
I’ve got mixed feelings about Mumblecore.
First of all, they’re a lot closer to Jaglom than they are to Godard or Fassbinder. It’s the same style of filmmaking: No script, no direction, just talk it out and let the director create the movie in the editing room.
Jaglom’s been doing it for 30+ years, and as a result probably has a the most scattered oeuvre of any director working.
I love the attitude behind Mumblecore: “We got no money, no connections, no script. But we DO have a camera and a bunch of friends! Let’s make a movie!” With technology nowadays, you’d think more filmmakers would be out doing this.
And there have been some M-core movies I’ve liked. “Mutual Appreciation” was a little gem, and much better than I thought it’d be. Best way to capture Old New York: Just film it in b&w! Haha..
I also liked “Puffy Chair” and “In Search of a Midnight Kiss”. “Hannah Takes The Stairs” bored me to tears, while “Funny Ha Ha” and “LOL” were damn near unwatchable.
“Quiet City” was ok. Not sure what I was looking for though.
My biggest gripe with Mumble core is this: If you’re not good enough to sit down and write a script just like every other writer-director out there, perhaps filmmaking’s not for you?
Let’s face it. The 1970s are over. We don’t live in that kind of film world anymore, and even Jaglom writes SOMETHING before he shoots. Even if he eventually throws it out, he fashions some sort of outline for the actors to work off of.
With the Mumblekids, it’s like they walk into a room with a huge blank canvas and a bunch of colors, except instead of painting, they just stand there talking about painting.
Cinema to some, boredom to others. But on the whole, it’s inspiring to see DIY filmmakers out there in such force.
But I doubt it’s gonna catch on…
The only mumblecore film I have really seen is “In Search of a Midnight Kiss”, which was written and rehearsed Casablanca style on a day to day basis. I enjoyed it but the thought of making a movie just because you have the means sickens me, the way I saw this movie seemed like it was just more low budget indie than slapped together. The idea of that little money and just the want to make movies reminds me of how Goddard described the beginning of French New Wave, not to say mumblecore will be this powerful, but he talked about how everyone talked about their rough and cheap style when really they would’ve loved to have big budgets they just didn’t have access to them. All in all I see mumblecore as this young movement, of course not everyone is going to accept it with open arms, but it will somewhat leave a mark on shameless American Cinema.
Yes, the ’70’s are over. America is more dishonest, vapid, and tolerant of mediocrity than ever. Yes, anybody can, from a technical standpoint, make a “film” due to it all becoming cheaper. That doens’t mean that they should, or that their results should be valued. “Mumblecore”? The term should alert you to the fact that anything identified as such is, a priori, unwatchable, vapid shit.
Attempting to bring in Cassavetes’ work into this conservation is laughable. Cassavetes was a man who’s life experience was already considerable when he started making films, and this, along with the depth and ability of the actors he worked with, make his work of enduring value, even if it isn’t always “fun”. Sorry kids, you ain’t nowhere close. If you feel that this stuff has value because it’s the only representation available of your sorry-ass generation, then you should get yourself something more substantive to represent, hit reset, and try again.
^^^And also with Cassavetes, he took years to make most of his best known films. They rehearsed and workshopped “Shadows” to death and even shot it twice. I think it took around 3 years before the final cut was done. Some kids see movies like that and don’t realize how much work was put into it and think that their improvised doings and dialogue will some how come out as genius. Plus, not to mention that Cassavetes did in fact write most of his stuff, even if he threw it out later or had his actors paraphrase it. But yeah, totally agree with you about the Cassavetes stuff.
The term itself gives me the creeps…
I am part of the internet generation. We’re all still in high school or college. Just wait till we hit the scene. See y’all in 2016. We’re gonna take over the new 20’s.
hahaha —-now that’s a prophesy.
that said, by the time you graduate, buddy, at this rate the internet will be completely locked down by the likes of Murdoch and his corporate cronies, and the industry will be one giant Berlin wall of distributional monopoly. Which is why independent filmmakers need to get their head out of their asses now, so SWH has a chance.
In this sense, I quite like Mumblecore. If it had any substance, it might be considered agitprop. Unfortunately it’s just a wet fuse on an old stick of 1970s dynamite, a quick spank of the monkey in the trembling shrubbery, as was much discussed earlier in this thread.
Just saw Funny Ha Ha to find out what this Mumblecore business is all about. A bold conception: a movie of nothing but dialog, among characters utterly inarticulate. Quietly amusing. Good enough to whet my appetite for another from this genre. As a bonus, Funny Ha Ha has a commentary by an unamed Russian scholar, who in a near impentrable accent compares Funny Ha Ha to Tartovsky and War and Peace. I don’t think it’s a put on.
Sold! i have been meaning to see this for a while.
This thread might belong here Beautiful Losers
Beautiful Losers is about 20 something’s angst: “what will become of me”
It was obvious to me from the first few minutes what the answer to that question was: you will be putting design on product.
Even the graffiti artist is putting design on product.
Per Andy Warhol, your so-called art will be subsumed by the consumer culture.
I really felt the doc was bitter sweet, but they got what the self-involved deserve, to become stooges of the corporate logo.
I for one can’t wait to catch Daddy Longlegs (formally Go Get Some Rosemary).
The Safdie brothers really have that something..
I think it’s a shame this sort of filmmaking got it’s own subgenre, which aroused enough interest for people such as myself to waste their time watching some of this crap.
I never really understood the term mumblecore too well, but I’m positively sure the Safdie brothers don’t fall into this category :) But then again, I might be wrong…
“I think it’s a shame this sort of filmmaking got it’s own subgenre, which aroused enough interest for people such as myself to waste their time watching some of this crap.”
Without knowing which specific films you’re referring to it’s hard to respond. There really is no subgenre, however. Many of the filmmakers who get labelled “mumblecore” are simply making films which deal with realistic social interactions without the phoney deterministic gloss hollywood, and many arthouse filmmakers, use to hide their shortcomings.
By “realistic social interactions without phony deterministic gloss” do you mean horrendous acting, even worse photography, excruciatingly annoying characters/dialogue, and student film caliber execution?
“By “realistic social interactions without phony deterministic gloss” do you mean horrendous acting, even worse photography, excruciatingly annoying characters/dialogue, and student film caliber execution?”
I don’t mean anything without you providing real examples. I will say that, for some people, the non-professional acting in some of these films is off-putting because they are used pretty stars bathed in light, chewing scenery for their precious oscar. Every performance in Bujalski’s films is better, and better for you than Anthony Hopkins or Liam Neeson’s last ten roles.
Pretty photography is meaningless. Every film in Garage is more beautiful, sometimes in a rough way, than Tarsem’s shitty The Fall.
Many have become used to Hollywood’s tendentious prose where every line is designed to excite you and leave you breathless with suspense for when someone’s gonna get their head blown off. Try reading Chekov or James to see the genius of what some call “excruciatingly annoying characters/dialogue” (you mean because it doesn’t go anywhere right:))
If by “execution” you are talking about the empty perfection of Hitchcock, you can dump that shit in the trash where it belongs. Flawed attempts to ask interesting questions will always be superior to machines making movies about machines, to paraphrase Rivette on Kubrick. If you are referring to a truly great filmmaker such as Ozu, then the “execution” isn’t as impressive as the questioning in the work. Avoid the Bordwell mistake where he takes a great filmmaker and reduces them to Hitchcockian, Kubrickian stylistics, in effect becoming the machine talking the machine who makes movies about machines.
Again, some of the movies that get labelled “mumblecore” are probably terrible but too often I find that people who despise the so-called genre prefer surface beauty to true depth.
“I find that people who despise the so-called genre prefer surface beauty to true depth.”
I find that depth can be attained only through an interactive experience between the viewer and the film. Depth is extracted rather than presented. Sometimes the “gloss” as you put it can help narrow the filmmaker’s focus while not specifically defining that focus, while other times it can be a puerile “hand-holding” shallow experience that nullifies the entire film. For movies that are “messy”, this mess can be just as empty an experience for an audience member as any other Hollywood film, and not necessarily for technical reasons like camerawork, but for human ones. The situations or the characters may be personally alienating or may even seem artificial/unrealistic. Other times, this “messiness” can best represent our reality as we know it. But again, the viewer must draw depth from the proceedings. There may be more to draw from, but…
In any event, I am convinced that when a film works for a viewer it is an emotional, visceral, wordless, non-intellectual reaction that has little to do with whether the photography was bad or beautiful or the performances were mannered or raw. It’s too easy to dismiss something as trash or shitty or complain about annoying characters. My philosophy is “whatever works”.
Not that I’m an expert on mumblecore or anything. I only saw my first mumblecore the other week: Puffy Chair. But I thought it was great. Looking forward to checking out Bujalski.