« Lux Interior is dead... | Main | Conundrum »

February 05, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Swanberg is fat and his films are fluff. SXSW sux without Dentler. And Mrs. Pierson is lost in the 70s but dreaming of being hip. All the filmmakers at SXSW know each other, fuck each other, look at each other, and remain in a bubble. I know, because I'm there... I know for a FACT that Swanberg helped program SXSW this year... I know for a fact that Mrs. Janet Pierson didn't even see nearly 50% of Kris Swanberg's movie... I know exactly how and why it got in... Believe, you don't want to know. Dentler's gone and SXSW is lost. It'll collapse inward in the next two years.

craig keller.

"Bujalski's Beeswax, which has already been torn-apart in Berlin."

— At this point I'm only skimming the comments that begin with "Mumblecore set ... cancer ... metastasize," but with regard to —

"Bujalski's Beeswax, which has already been torn-apart in Berlin."

— I guess I'm a little confused about who're the big critics doing the tearing. I'm sure there will be some lemon-suckers out there to heap scorn on every film made now and on into perpetuity by any 'm-core associate', on sheer principle. For the present, I note that the film has received very positive notices so far from both Daniel Kasman and Kevin Lee at The Auteurs' Notebook, David Hudson at IFC's The Daily, and Mike Goodridge at Screen. I see it got a pan in Variety. I personally haven't cared what a Variety writer has thought about a film in, ever.

Anyway, this is getting CriterionForum'y. Life must go on.

craig keller.

Sorry about the accidental double-paste of the "torn-apart" quote in the above comment. To make up for it, and this boring erratum post, please enjoy this clip from Armando Iannucci's THICK OF IT — the tenor of which strikes me as about right for this discussion:




AlexJones - While I wish these comments had stuck to the merits of Swanberg's work, or possible lack thereof, I think you're either ignorant or delusional when discussing the relationships between Swanberg and film programmers. Matt Dentler may have been a pretty tireless advocate of mumblecore, but in promoting the cause, he gave a group of filmmakers a way to market their movies, particularly then-Austinites the Duplass Brothers and Andrew Bujalski, who were able to get the most out of their hometown fest, and he wasn't doing this with the primary intention of raising his own profile in order to leave, but to raise the profile of the filmmakers and yes, the festival so he could get better movies. (You can blame him for helping to launch the careers of others though by doing a canny marketing job.) As for Janet Pierson, are you really going to pull the unprofessional card? Looking past her considerable resume, considering Bujalski's first two films made it into SXSW before Pierson ever came to Austin, it's not unreasonable to believe his third feature would make it in as well, regardless of who was in it. Then considering half the Austin filmmaking community is in Beeswax, wouldn't it make sense that the festival, with or without Pierson doing the programming, might want to play that film? (Louis Black, who's still in charge of the festival, seems to appear in a movie every year, and I don't see you bitching about any of the docs or Linklater movies he's been in that have played the fest.) But if you're dealing in the ethics of film festival programming particularly in regards to Geoff Gilmore, you might want to ask yourself whether Amy Redford's "The Guitar" got into Sundance solely on its merits? Or how about her dad's "The Clearing"? I agree that film festivals are an incestuous world, but to single out Dentler and Pierson as being somehow unethical when they've only spent their careers helping filmmakers they believe in is pretty low. Swanberg may be one of the recipients of their help, but there are plenty of other filmmakers, some of whom you might actually like, that might not be making movies now without them.

don lewis

I love how, at the end of a spirited and insightful debate, the anonymous web a-holes come out to feast on the carcass. No proof whatsoever in ANYTHING "AlexJones" says and he's (she's?) sorely behind in his gossipy rant. That's like....2007's rant.

Alex-what are some of these overlooked films? Who are these sad, overlooked, depraved filmmakers? Cuz I guarantee if they made a movie that played SXSW, we reviewed it at Film Threat. I mean, I know you on't answer that because that would make your rant hold a teeny bit of water, but still, thought I'd throw that out there. Bring it.

Al Joad

I think Alex Jones hit a nerve. What he said is what I wish I could've said.

The title of the next Swanberg/Bujalski/Duplass/Mumblcoretullykellerbronsteinlonhworth movie should be: Circle Jerk.

And to answer your question, Don: Travis Wilkerson is a filmmaker who deserves as much hoopla as someone like Swanberg. An Injury to One and Who Killed Cock Robin? are everything that Swanberg's movies are and much more: they're actually about something.

Face it, guys. No one likes a clique. And that's what you guys are.

don lewis

And Wilkersons movies have both been at Sundance which Swanbergs films never have. What's your point, "Al Joad?" Because people aren't raving about Wilkerson's films it's now the fault of Joe Swanberg? Excellent analogy.

And "AlexJones" is also clearly just a bitter Betty, frustrated nobody. His post contradicts itself too. Matt Dentler "rode" Mumblecore to a job at Cinetic yet, as "AlexJones" points out, Joe's "Hannah Takes the Stairs" made a measly $20 g's. That's who I want to headhunt for my new cinematic endeavor, the guy who spearheaded the buzz about a movie that grossed $20 grand.

For the bitter and angry there's simply no way anybody did anything (got into festivals, got press coverage, go a new, higher profile job) on their own merit. There's simply some force of hip nepotism at work. Sigh. Have fun with your generic bottle of whiskey, 7 cats and DVD's of filmmakers-who-are-way-better-than-so-and-so this weekend.


Moon Molson, Alex Rivera, Lee Kazimir are three off the top of my head. And I can hear the protest, 'But Sleep Dealer won an award at Sundance!' But it did not get a full page spread on the front of the Weekender section of the NY Times and it has not been blogged about ad nauseum at Spout or Hammer to Nail or IndieWire. And it has not been released.

But I do not want to get caught up in petty details. I'm asking for a macro-view on this. I don't care if I got the gossip right. "That's so 2007, pssh, how can you not know what's going on? Egads." Please. I'm making a point: Mumblecore exists and thrives in an echo chamber. That echo chamber drowns out the very legitimate criticism of it and weakens the overall state of independent film.

Like it or not, SXSW, is a validating force in the independent film world and the coziness with which they've coddled their mumblecore friends needs to be brought to light and questioned. Especially given the weak response to these films by the public at large.

Lastly, I find it interesting that no one has responded to the post suggesting that Kris Swanberg's film got in on her relationships alone. Not hard to imagine considering most of us know it was still being shot in December and January (and the SXSW deadline is when? At the end of November? Not sure, but you understand my point).


Don, do you hear me taking this to a personal level? With name calling?

You're illustrating my point over and over and over.


Dear AlexnoroomforspacesJones,

Perhaps the reason Sleep Dealer has not been released is that it is scheduled to come out April 17th from Maya Entertainment. But I wouldn't want to distract you with petty details or anything.

don lewis

"AlexJones" whoever you may be....
If you're so concerned about who's being treated which way and which films aren't being championed that should be.....start a blog. Start writing somewhere. Program a festival. Be part of the solution. But then you'd have to, you know, kind of show your face and own up and be accountable up to unfounded accusations.

And I had never really heard of "Sleep Dealer" so I looked it up. It has 4 reviews from MAJOR (Hollywood Reporter, Variety, NY Magazine) publications but only 4 reviews period. Maybe the producers of "Sleep Dealer" should have been better about getting screeners to press or publicizing their movie. Making films and getting them seen is a team sport and it seems like the reviews the film got were from some pretty big hitters. Why is it *my* fault I haven't seen it which may have given me reason to champion it? Furthermore, that Moon Molson person has a TON of press out there.

What's your angle anyway? Moreover, your point?

And my name calling was only slightly pointed at you...moreso to "ecceercer."

Bill C.

It really doesn't matter if the film is by Swanberg or any of the other mumblecore filmmakers. The real problem with these films seems to be that the characters in them -- mid-20s, floundering hipsters caught up in romantic 'dilemmas', trying to 'make it' -- have to be among the most boring characters put on screen in recent memories.

Great movie characters, who truly connect with audiences and make an impact, are the ones who believe in something, fight for something, and care about their place in the outside world. None of these characters seem to realize there is an outside world, and who knows what they're fighting for, other than some minor emotional victory.

I think the reason these films are so disposable has little to do with Swanberg's intent or lackthereof. No, the reason these films are so disposable is that the people whom they're about offer so little inspiration to the people sitting in the audience.

Chris Kaplan

Yeah, what Don said. Everyone here is a nobody and a loser, and Joe Swanberg is a winner, and by proxy, so are Don and Craig Keller. They were allowed to sit with the cool kids and you weren't and now you're just jealous.

The only thing I have learned from reading this comments thread is that a lot of people don't like Joe Swanberg's movies and that Don Lewis and Craig Keller are tools and devoid of either humor or anything interesting to say about anything, except Swanberg rules and all of you suck. Good job, you guys. I look forward to never reading anything that either of you ever write. You have totally alienated at least one person, and while that might not be a big deal to you, it should be, seeing as how the two of you are most definitely not setting the world on fire. Maybe you should be the ones using pseudonyms.


Don't have time to read the other comments here, but I agree with the article author. I just tried watching Nights and Weekends and was shocked at how off putting it was (and not in an interesting way). I didn't realize this was the same director as Hannah, but I had similar qualms with it and its Bujalski and Osborne characters. (FWIW, I've been working my way through these movies after discovering and loving the Duplass brothers' output.)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Tip Jar

Tip Jar
Blog powered by Typepad