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April 05, 2010


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Fuzzy Bastard

I believe you mean "contain nudity that no one would ever..." The whole point of the article being non-sexualized nudity!

John Keefer

nothing to do with mumblecore or the linked article and for that I apologize but...

Have you seen or were planning to see Loren Cass?

Just watched it and was intrigued by the prospect of more movies from Chris Fuller, was wondering what you thought


I saw "Loren Cass"! Good god, what a chore that was to sit through. I nearly choked on my oatmeal when I read it was getting a theatrical release via (I think) Kino.

Sorry to jump in, John, but the thought of that movie brought sour memories flooding back.

I browsed the Jessica Grose article. Should I read the whole thing or....?

John M

Weird hostility toward Loren Cass.

Part and parcel with the weird hostility toward all things low-budget (oh, sorry, mumblecore) these days.

Glenn Kenny

I have not seen "Loren Cass" yet. But it sounds pretty, um, polarizing!

What's finally really delightful about Grose's article—what makes it, in a sense, the quintessential Slate piece—isn't what it's saying about the "honesty" of non-sexualized nudity, or deglamourized sex scenes (both of which are things I'm perfectly fine with, by the way), or even its implied positing of Joe Swanberg, of all people, as a kind of feminist heroine. It's the headlong glee with which Grose makes her identification with the films known. "These movies are great and worth watching because they're about me me me!" she might as well have written. To hold viewer identification as the most significant measure of the value of any work of art suggests depths of aesthetic, intellectual, and spiritual impoverishment that would be sad in almost any other context. But here they're just funny. Albeit mordantly.


That article is indeed gross. But I do believe we've reached some kind of point where the sum total of anti-mumblecore hostility and writing online outweighs proselytizing on its behalf.

Tom Russell

I didn't follow the link because I only very recently broke myself of the Slate-reading habit, a painfully long and embarrassing process that, like all people recovering from things that are bad for them, I have no wish to repeat. Not everyone on Slate is a cretin, and not every piece is cretinous, but enough are that I can't go there without ending up reading something that lowers my IQ. So I can't comment on the piece, and I'm not going to comment on anything mumbly-bumbly, except to say that my affinity for certain films and filmmakers is probably by now a matter of record.

What I did want to comment on was the assertion that it's possible for a film to have a sex scene that no one in a million years would ever concieve of using as, um, an aid. And this I know from experience. No, not that kind of experience. Let me tell you a story.

I once made a feature film that was frankly pretty terrible, so terrible, in fact, that I don't let anyone see it save for my closest, closest friends, and then only to say, can you believe a film this mean-spirited, vile, and just plain bad came out of me? And in said film, there was a sex scene that I devised specifically to frustrate onanists.

I shot it in the most alienating, disjointed way possible, filled it to the brim with disturbing dialogue (nothing untoward, just disturbing in the context of the story), and employed a number of crude gags, the piece d'resistance being a close-up of the inside of a vagina which we sculpted out of raw meat. Really, the crudest, most disgusting thing you could think of-- I'm really quite ashamed that I at one time thought this sort of thing was aesthetically acceptable.

Anyway-- so, I showed the film to an insult comic/impressionist I was friendly with at the time (again, not someone the present-day Tom Russell would even dream of associating with), who showed it to a somewhat prominent Michigander, who wanted to meet me. Well, that sounded swell, so off I went.

It turned out he hated the film, except for one part. And that one part wasn't the minotaur doing laundry, wasn't the parody of sad the-couple-is-apart montages, wasn't the off-broadway musical retelling of the Pied Piper. No, it was that sex scene. "It was really fockin' hot," he said. "Really did the trick and then some."

No, I did not shake his hand.

Glenn Kenny

@ Tom: Yikes! (Also, hope the prominent Michigander wasn't Jeff Daniels!)

@ Vadim. Indeed. I rather wish the article had been making its point about something that it...wasn't. Would have been more fun for me. What IS fun is that Grose's piece made me remember Rex Reed's review, in the New York Daily News I think, of Nicolas Roeg's 1973 "Don't Look Now." Many may recall that the Sutherland/Christie sex scene (which, as it happens, is not only "necessary to the story," as they say, but which functions as one of the film's emotional linchpins) was the subject of much snickering "did-they-or-didn't-they-really-'do'-it" speculation at the time (which Peter Biskind, true to form, tries to revive in his recent Beatty biography). Anyway, whether they did it or not, Reed thought the whole thing was JUST GROSS, and remarked that while in some films you'll want to see the stars with their clothes off, if you watch "Don't Look Now" you'll be begging its stars to put their clothes back on, ar ar ar.

He didn't like the rest of the film, either.

@ John M.: Who's hostile to low-budget endeavors? "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" is one of my all-time favorites!

Tom Russell

@ Glenn: No, it's not Daniels-- whom I remember, contrary to a lot of the scuttlebut that goes around about his personal style, as being very pleasant when he visited my high school video class as a favour to my teacher, Russ Gibb (yes, _that_ Russ Gibb).


I love Jeff Daniels. Is that what we're talking about here?

I still have not seen a single film that can be, or at any rate has been, labeled "mumblecore", and all this endless talk about it somehow makes me completely unable to decide if I'm missing out or not.

Tom Russell

Bill-- "mumblecore" is such a weird term for so many disparate films. You might want to try QUIET CITY or MUTUAL APPRECIATION.


THE FUTURIST! likes this Grose quote very much.
(comment posted in the nude)

John M

To Glenn: sorry for the misunderstanding, wasn't implying that you're being hostile to low-budget film. I'm just letting the commenters over at Hollywood Elsewhere get to me, letting that anger bleed over here, which I'm sure will make you happy. Basically, now over at Wells' site, anything under $5 million there is considered "mumblecore" and unworthy of the glorious silver screen, where movies should be WORTH YOUR MOTHERFUCKING TIME.

"Mumblecore" as a term really, really needs to be retired. It's gunking everything up.

Regarding narcissism in film reviewing, this irked the crap out of me:


A discussion entirely rooted in the participants' dating lives. And one of the participants (the illustrious Natasha Vargas-Cooper) walked out of the movie about forty minutes before it ended because she JUST. COULD. NOT. TAKE. THIS. GUY. ANY. MORE. At least Grose had some soft cloak of feminism to snuggle in. These gals just sound like a cheesecake roundtable on Golden Girls.

Now, if anyone at Slate wants to write an article about how Greta Gerwig is, finally, not much of an actress, well, I'm on board for that one.

Glenn Kenny

@ John M: Um, thanks for that link. I think. It certainly represents a, erm, unique approach to arts assessment.

Inane as it was, it didn't irk me nearly as much as it might have. Could it finally be true...that I've actually gotten TOO OLD to let this kind of crap bother me? Do I really, after all this time, truly not care, as it were, that Julie Klausner doesn't care...about that dude she were dating's band? Yes? Yes! How liberating!

John Keefer

I just turned 27 and feel too old for this stuff to bother me...

That being said, what inane pointless crap is being passed off as essay nowadays is really starting to bother me.

Also, glad to hear a love for Texas Chainsaw Massacre, its grand guignol art to the max and, sadly, it seems lessons that could be gleaned from it by would be horror filmmakers seem lost to the ages or to placing 70's horror on a pedestal, awash in remakes and shattered promise and...

But I digress. I think a rule of thumb that could be applied to Slate articles could be as follows "Imagine the look on someone's face if you were to tell them, in summation, what the 'point' of the article you were writing would be...and be honest. Rate on a scale of utter indifference to coma-inducing"

As for Loren Cass and losing oatmeal over it. I'd say what interested me most was the promise of what the filmmaker, if he were to make more films, would be. I have a soft spot for 1st films from interesting filmmakers...which is to say I have a soft spot for films in general. The sound design of the film was intriguing, perhaps too on the nose at times but in an otherwise plotless film you kinda need it. Scenes of brutality are simply shown, a symptom of the environment. They also seemed completely unstaged, as if the director simply said, "Ok now we're going to fight each other". A violence depicted and viewed without excitement, shock perhaps but a part of the landscape. A punk rock Odyssey with some great iconic imagery, of rage and young love, violence against others and against self. It's a film with moxy and a sure way of telling its tale of three drifters in a time and place very specific but almost ephemeral, they are still there, haunting the back alleys, nightmares dreamed then lived.

Sure there are some clunky moments but come on, still interesting.

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