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The Auteurs Daily: Lustig's 70s and Bujalski's "Beeswax"

The Auteurs Daily

Rolling Thunder

"Cinema of the 1970s has become so mythologized that it's easy to miss the simpler, unknown pleasures lurking in the shadows of AltmanScorsese andCassavetes," writes Nicolas Rapold in Time Out New York. "With [William Lustig Presents: The '70s Buried Treasures], Anthology Film Archives hauls out a heart-attack platter of studio genre delights, courtesy of guest programmer and founder of the cult DVD label Blue UndergroundWilliam Lustig. Featuring he-men on payback missions, rich jaded humor and burnt-out Nixon-era mood to spare, these fun, no-nonsense B movies of yesteryear annihilate the bloated blockbusters of today."

"Lustig's nine-film selection of genre nuggets for Anthology draws out affinities," writes Nick Pinkerton in the Voice. "There's the expected racial tension, downmarket location shoots, and budget-free no-FX physicality... Also very present is the psychic blowback from Southeast Asia."

Beeswax

"Let's not dilate - as many have - on whether writer-director Andrew Bujalski's scripts are indebted to the languid stylings of Eric Rohmer, or the degree to which his characters are heirs to the lustful eccentrics in Woody Allen's films," begins Lauren O'Neill-Butler in Artforum. "Let's also forget about Mumblecore, the poorly named genre he's said to have pioneered, which is distinguished by the directionless musings of late-twenty-somethings as they try to figure their shit out. If Bujalski's Beeswax (2009), is any indication, he's well on his way to surpassing most expectations."

"Though no one's idea of an action film, Andrew Bujalski's Beeswax feels less charmingly aimless than its radically slight precursors Funny Ha Ha (2002) and Mutual Appreciation (2006)," writes J Hoberman in the Voice. "Have Bujalski's feckless characters joined the workaday world? As its title suggests, Beeswax has a mild buzz of business - and busy-ness."

"In its rambling, lackadaisical way," writes IFC guest critic Mike D'Angelo, "Beeswax represents the down-market version of Steven Soderbergh's The Girlfriend Experience, examining the commodification of relationships among those of us for whom money is in fact an object. More than that, though, the injection of commerce, even on this tiny scale, makes Bujalski's wryly comic take on the hazards of modern communication seem considerably tougher and less insular than it has in the past."

The L Magazine's Mark Asch suggests we "mind Beeswax's formal elegance," while, for Andrew Schenker, writing in Slant, "Beeswax is largely concerned with the imprecisions of language and the ways in which people are forced to get by under less than ideal linguistic circumstances." But for TONY's Joshua Rothkopf, "Those who see strength in the film's modesty are settling for too little."

The New Yorker's Richard Brody is struck by a notion Bujalski riffs on a bit in Livia Bloom's interview with him for Cinema Scope: The "dialogue and the sound of the room" are the score.

Beeswax (site) opens Friday at New York's Film Forum before rolling out across the nation this fall.

Images: On top, that's William Devane and Linda Haynes in Rolling Thunder (1977) from Cinema is Dope, where you'll also find this striking Japanese poster for the film. The Beeswax photo is by Matthias Grunsky, courtesy of The Cinema Guild.

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Some of us weren’t only watching Altman, Cassavetes or Scorsese during the 70s. Interesting choices by Lustig. “The Outside Man” has a great cast. I didn’t see the Compton film, but “Return to Macon County” was good enough to see twice theatrically.
While I may not be a quote-able critic (yet), I did sit down with Andrew Bujalski and discuss his newest film. He spills a lot of interesting points about his new film, Beeswax, and his process altogether. Give it a read if you like: http://www.candlerblog.com/2009/08/07/film-anxiety-and-legalese-an-interview-with-andrew-bujalski/, Anxiety and Legalese: An Interview with Andrew Bujalski
Many thanks, Jonathan. So he’s another fan of THE WIRE. I’ve got to buckle down and catch up with that series sooner rather than later.

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