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We Need to Talk... Comprehensive Mumblecore

by Blasphemer
We Need to Talk... Comprehensive Mumblecore by Blasphemer
Imagine high school kids watching the films of Whit Stillman, Noah Baumbach and Richard Linklater, perhaps even John Cassavetes, Ingmar Bergman and Eric Rohmer, who then go home and attempt to make films like these on their own, with their friends, in their basements and in their showers. The result: “Mumblecore.” The kids: Andrew Bujalski, (the often nauseating) Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Aaron Katz, Lynn Shelton, Joe Swanberg, Greta Gerwig (who seems equally comfortable acting in the nude or fully-clothed, I’ll give her that) and others… These films are interesting in that their focus is often on the subtle interactions between people… Read more

Imagine high school kids watching the films of Whit Stillman, Noah Baumbach and Richard Linklater, perhaps even John Cassavetes, Ingmar Bergman and Eric Rohmer, who then go home and attempt to make films like these on their own, with their friends, in their basements and in their showers. The result: “Mumblecore.” The kids: Andrew Bujalski, (the often nauseating) Mark Duplass, Jay Duplass, Aaron Katz, Lynn Shelton, Joe Swanberg, Greta Gerwig (who seems equally comfortable acting in the nude or fully-clothed, I’ll give her that) and others… These films are interesting in that their focus is often on the subtle interactions between people in uncomfortable situations, where body language, facial expression, furtive glances and secret smiles, etc. reveal much more than what is said or not said. But what is lacking in most of these films is an emotional depth, a richness of story and characters that better actors, writers and directors can bring to a film. It’s not easy, there are not many filmmakers like Cassavetes or Bergman running around today. In the end, the films of the American “Mumblecore” movement feel like an immature homage, high school kids mimicking their heroes, sincere yet amateur. Perhaps this is wherein their charm lies. Like watching a high school play, glimpses of insight occasionally break through, engendered by the sheer innocence and enthusiasm of youth, even though the richness and texture of the masters is missing, ultimately rendering the films somewhat sparse and unsatisfying… The most polished “Mumblecore” films to date are probably Bujalski’s ‘Beeswax’ and the Duplass brothers’ ‘Cyrus’. You might want to start with one of these films if you’re new to “Mumblecore.”

(p.s. Even though they are German, I include a couple of Maren Ade films for good measure…)

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