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January 12, 2010


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I would say Richard Linklater's Before Sunrise and Before Sunset are closer to Rohmer than anything related to mumblecore. Also I don't see the comparison with My Dinner With Andre. Yes, it has a lot of talk and yes Rohmer's films have a lot of talk but they sort of end there in comparison.

Glenn Kenny

@ MattL: Certainly agree about Linklater, who isn't reticent about his admiration for Rohmer. Not to mention Bresson. He does know his stuff, and how to use it.

Chris O.

It probably isn't fair to lump Rohmer with mumblecore in that way any more than one artist or group of artists with another. (Calling Neil Young the "grandfather of grunge" used to irk me as well.) But if some young mumblecore fans (or aspiring filmmakers) read the Boston Globe and seek out Rohmer as a result, then no harm, no foul. Maybe one of them might learn something. Risking blasphemy here, but Rohmer may need mumblecore at the end of the day. Like Woody Guthrie needs Dylan. No, I'm not comparing mumblecore to Dylan.

I'm just trying to be a little positive. Remember your blood pressure, Glenn.

James Keepnews

You know, both Walter Hill and Sir Carol Reed have instances of ferris wheels in their respective oeuvres...

It is hard to square the mumbledly square pegs with L'Eric, beyond an undeniable self-regard (making Rohmer equivalent, in this respect, to Cassavettes, Guy Ritchie, every overrated episode of Mad Men, & bleeding cetera). Rohmer's characters are also at once relentlessly and serenely self-analytical, and the philosophical glow the develops from those two-handed dialogues (almost exclusively) in his films have little cinematic referent before or since -- I sorta hate The Mother and the Whore, starting and far from ending with that awful title, but it's the only rough demi-equivalent that springs to mind. And I sorta adore her, but I'm confident Ms. Gerwig is never going to be cast in any sort of rough demi-equivalent like Greta in the Afternoon.

He isn't any sort of rough demi neither, for all the jes' sittin' around talkin' in both director's films, but I was always tickled by Tarantino's quote that he created a following for Rohmer in Manhattan Beach during his cinematic apprenticship in that video store. Obviously, there's a direct aesthetic line to be drawn between Chloe in the Afternoon and Kill Bill, Pt. II...

Good eye on some killer vinyl, Glenn! I always loved Beefheart marinated in Catholic guilt. Oh, and Chris. O. -- Neil IS the godfather of grunge, though as for his grandfatherly status, I'd want to see a blood test. Seriously, the homage The Bridge: A Tribute to Neil Young is as clear a statement as one could hope of grunge solidarity with Neil's ragged glory/amplification. I wish he'd score every Jarmusch film!

Ben Sachs

I recall an observation that Armond White made about Rohmer in a mid-90s Film Comment piece, that there are things about being 25 you can only understand by living to be 45. Forgoing any critical comparison, none of the mumblecore directors have yet lived that long.

Steve Winer

This is completely off topic, but I thought many of y'all might be interested to hear about this:
For those of you who have access to the Encore Western Channel, this Thursday they will be running an episode of the TV series "The Virginian" that was written and directed by Samuel Fuller. In his autobiography he discusses the difficulties of dealing with television people, but says that the producer liked the show enough to offer him more episodes (which he turned down). The guest star is Lee Marvin. I have to think this is at least worth a look for Fuller/Marvin fans.


one american director that seems closer to Rohmer than these mumblecore people is W. Stillman ( where is now?) especially Metropolitan and Barcelona. He, too, has a flair for young actresses

Audrey Rouget ( Caroline Farina), I love you !

Chris O.

Thanks, Steve. Setting the DVR with a quickness...

James, maybe he's the grandfather of AutoTune as well. Anyone remember the vocoder stuff he did on TRANS?

Richard Brody

Glenn, Joe Swanberg's shots are no more casusl, and much more expressive, than those of Assayas and Desplechin. But I agree that Rohmer is not the father or godfather of mumblecore; if there's one thing that characterizes their films, it's the sense that they're filming themselves, their milieu, their lives, and Rohmer didn't do that--he filmed his ideas, his emotions, even his desires.

Glenn Kenny

@Richard, I absolutely do not concur with your first point. Your second, however, is both spot-on and crucial.

Tom Russell

While I'm a big fan of all three of the "mumblecore" filmmakers that Glenn mentioned, not to mention on friendly terms with a couple of them, I too cannot really see the Rohmer connection. And I think this piece was as good as any in terms of also demonstrating how very little these filmmakers (so often dismissed in toto) have in common.


@Richard and Glenn -

Richard's first point is fatuous nonsense, especially in regards to Desplechin, who misses as often as he hits, but always does so with wit and bravaura (and when he does hit, it's brilliant), whereas Swanberg's cameraman hit his first milestone of "basic competence" with Nights and Weekends.

His second point illustrates (inadvertantly) precisely what is wrong with Swanberg's cinema - a depiction of life that manages to leave out desire, perspective, or any significant ideas.

eric puls

Hey man, can't Bill Chinnock get a name check in that still photo caption? Not too many rock and rollers from Maine you know.

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