“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself.” – Abraham Maslow
It may be too soon for a total assessment with only three features so far, though I’ve always found it to be a fair number to start with. His films are often grouped with those of his contemporaries’ [the Duplasses, Swanberg, and Katz] and those influenced by them, but let’s not focus on the similarities as they’re often obvious enough to be negligible and it is their differences which are the most interesting. Regardless of whether he strives for ‘realism’, what is fascinating to me about Bujalski’s work is his uncanny ability to create fluid and organic environments, ones which reflect the transitory nature of contemporary American life and culture. As a result of this, they are inherently inconsistent because the only thing which remains concrete are the experiences of the protagonists instead of the cast, settings or dialogue, which are employed in a more impressionistic manner. While there are a large number of prominent speaking roles, perhaps more than any other member of the aforementioned ‘gang of four’, beyond the few main characters there are no traditional secondary roles. These individuals may appear once or twice, at most, for brief periods of time in the course of the film, then are never seen again. Yet they are given equal footing the central protagonists, leaving an impression on the audience through their interactions and conversations. They may discuss things in a manner that touches upon personal thoughts, general ramblings and varied subjects that avoids direct expression but subtext is suggested through what they speak of and how they speak of it, as well as their gestures and behavior in context of where they are speaking and, more importantly, to whom. All this ‘looseness’ in environment, tone and cast creates a vaguely disorientating effect but as we observe these people, we see how their actions manage to be simultaneously conscious and unconscious. That, like them, we must continually readjust our perceptions for each moment, and thus a new set of circumstances, in order to heighten awareness of ourselves and those around us.
Beeswax (2009) -
And Now for Something Completely Different: