Joe Swanberg is collaborating with Factory 25 on Joe Swanberg: Collected Films 2011, which "represents an entirely new way to distribute indie cinema," as the Brooklyn-based independent film and music label puts it in yesterday's announcement.
Filmmaker's Scott Macaulay elaborates: "Swanberg is offering fans a four-film, one-year subscription to his work. For $99.95 subscribers will receive a box that will fill up each quarter with not only DVDs but also bonus material, including 45rpm records, photo books and posters. 'I'm in the nice position right now of having so many [completed] films I'm trying to get out into the world, so I'm taking the plunge and doing something interesting,' says Swanberg. The four films are Silver Bullets and Art History (both of which premiered in Berlin), The Zone, and Privacy Settings. In the latter new film, scheduled to be released Fall, 2012, Frank V Ross plays a peeping tom 'who stumbles into a mutually beneficial relationship with an exhibitionist.'"
David Lowery, who's worked with Joe and has just received a post-production grant from Rooftop Films, has two points to make here. "The first is that this is a fantastic and unique form of physical distribution - and by unique, I mean unique entirely to Joe, whose increasingly termitic work is not only perfectly suited for this type of release but also, increasingly, demands it. Over the past six years, his audience has grown even as his work has become less openly accessible, putting him in an extremely rare position: he doesn't have to please anyone to get everyone to pay attention. Which brings me to my other point, which is that this subscription is worth the price solely for the double feature of Silver Bullets and Art History, which as a one-two punch are some of the most gut-wrenchingly honest looks at the artistic process and the nature of collaboration that I've ever seen. They're deeply personal and deceptively ambitious — particularly Art History, which lacks the genre conceits. wanton emotion and meta-flourishes of Silver Bullets but replaces them with a stark, almost terrifying sense of formal restraint."
"Joe Swanberg's films have always been acutely interested in communication, specifically the double-edged nature of the very things that bring people together," writes Jesse Cataldo in Slant. "These have ranged from the shared interests and insecurity-driven ironicism of Hannah Takes the Stairs to the broad gulf of the Internet (LOL, Uncle Kent) and the bonds of marriage and sisterhood explored in Alexander the Last. Taking structural cues from the latter, Art History delves into the mechanics and external drama of a single sex scene, examining the fissures that can develop from capturing a single scene on film."
"Few films turn the camera on the filmmaking process as bluntly or as harshly," adds the New Yorker's Richard Brody. For indieWIRE's Eric Kohn, though, Art History, which opens today for a week-long run at Brooklyn's reRun Gastropub Theater, is merely "an efficient doodle mandated by familiar Swanbergian traits." Michelle Orange in the Voice: "Swanberg has discovered lighting and mood — to occasionally stunning effect. Perhaps in some future memo from the front lines of indie-sploitation, he will unite them with story and more than a superficial nod to character."