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January 21, 2011


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Matthias Galvin


also: on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 5 being the lowest and 7 being the highest), how funny would you rank your piece?

Kent Jones

All I can say is that I wish he'd chosen another title.

Mike Everleth

Don't engage. You have better things to do. (I hope.)

Starve the beast.

John M

Your oblique review, assuming it's not just a 2200-word spittle-flecked anger-moan, will add something new to the current pot (also spittle-flecked, but spittle of the ecstatic variety, from what I've read), so--

I say yes--I'd love to read it.

Love him or hate him or meh him, Swanberg is, at least, a more worthwhile subject than Palin.


Yeah, show and tell.


Who's Joe Swanberg, and what do I have to write here for Richard Brody to disdainfully quote me on his blog? (If it helps, I also take bad photos and use split infinitives.)


You've already written it, so post, please. I have to assume it's your critical review of the thing, not some misinformed bile piece rapidly put together just to counter Brody's and Keller's praise and/or piss'em off (certainly 'and'). Which would be amusing, but far too undemanding to concoct; I haven't seen anything yet by the Swanburguese (note how easy!), and already feel qualified to write a passable facsimile.

Fabian W.

Post it, please.


As the commenter who "looks down his nose" at Swanberg's Criterion list, I say post the thing because you've written it and then stop discussing Swanberg altogether until you have something new to say about him. I've engaged in my slagging amongst friends since I saw Hannah Takes The Stairs and at some point I had to stop. I have nothing to new to say about him because there isn't much to say about him to begin with. I sense the same feeling in you, so burn this last one off and then move on to something that actually excites you, whether it be positive or negative.


if the piece really delves into how the movie works and not the man behind it, then post away!

Evelyn Roak

As I imagine your review/piece is not just flippant derisory remarks but is actually one of substance and thought I too add my voice to those wishing you to publish the piece, if only to counteract the parodic characterization Richard Brody has posted on his blog, the language and thought of praise provided there as generalizing and broad stroked as those he lampoons, offering a Hilary Putnam-like alternate earth to explain the Swanberg reception.*

It is a world in which a dislike of Swanberg’s films is only explained by “settled sensibilities”, a pigheadedness and aesthetic conservatism in which the viewer fails to properly liberate him or herself from the accepted conventions which they have been duped into believing; of predictable responses more indicative of, and concerned with perpetuating, a hive mind than proffering free thought which would invariably “recognize” the worth of Swanberg’s work if not caught up in blindly parroting the canon; where the worst thing to be is a cinema-studies professor as any academic inclination is characterized as a fearful retreat from some far more authentic mode of engagement (oh boy) and scholarly thought or work is irreconcilable with artistic creation; critiques only coming from backward looking, idyllic dreamers of an agreed upon past, withdrawing from the world being the only possible explanation for finding Swanberg’s work lacking. If only these conformists could be as free as those who recognize.

I stumble wildly over the Garrel comparison but perhaps that is because I have sheltered myself in DVD’s and books of the past, shielding my staid and swallowed aesthetics from the howling winds of the new new present which if I were only so confident as to crack a window open to would lead me from my heated home, ensconced in the safely known, and deliver me to this realer world which I have tried so hard to keep out.

Alas, Glenn, please do throw another log on the fire of canon conformity for I feel a draft coming on.

*The newyorker.com website is all mangled re: comments. I tried to post a comment on the “Uncle Kent” piece and failed and a reply of mine on the Albert Ayler post (recommending a little internet ingenuity be used to find the volumes of “In Florence”, Don Ayler’s records as leader, as they are neglected and wonderful albums) has since disappeared.


I'd like to read it. I only vaguely enjoyed HANNAH... [and really just for Gerwig's perfomance (i.e. she was totally naked in several scenes)] and have found everything else I've read about JSwan to make my skin crawl. Those artporns he made for IFC were loooood-a-criss. So put me down as an emphatic "yea."

A different Brian

1,000 times yes.

Richard Brody

@Kent Jones: I understand, of course, why the title would make you uneasy; but I hope that you'll find compensation in the emotional payoff the title yields. People may debate Swanberg's camera style (which seems to me skillful and, at the very least, unobjectionable), but it's hard for me to fathom that the scene that gives the film its title wouldn't hit a viewer in the (metaphorical) gut.

Richard Brody

@Evelyn Roak: will see what's going on with the comments over there; thanks for letting me know--and for word about Donald Ayler's own recordings; I've never heard them.


Post it.

Evelyn Roak

(parenthesis for this parenthetical tangent---Donald Ayler's recordings are unfortunately long out of print, so far as I can tell ((I am not even sure they have ever been released on cd, that increasingly irrelevant format)), and limited to a 3-lp set "In Florence" from 1981 which is truly excellent stuff ((and two tracks on the Revenent Holy Ghost box)). As the lp's are dang near impossible to find and absurdly pricey when they do show up one must suggest the usual internet alleyways and shadowed corners to find these very worthwhile recordings.)


Please post, enough with the drama.

Victor Morton

Yeah, post it. You've already written it so the time waste (if it be that) has already happened.

Zack McGhee

I'm +1 on post it, because it's already been written, "enough with the drama," etc.

Also, I love Mike Everleth's "starve the beast" comment in favor of not posting it. As if anyone outside a very small number of the world's population has any idea who Joe Swanberg is.


A vote for 'run it' here.

"As if anyone outside a very small number of the world's population has any idea who Joe Swanberg is."

Well, yerce, but they're 'the right people', innit. Though I would like Swanberg to get such a fan-following that my screener of 'Hannah' will accrue value, like old promo CDs used to. (Monetary, I mean. Reasonably sure it's not going to accrue value of any other kind, and it doesn't deserve the landfill-space.) I'm glad Greta Gerwig survived it.

James Keepnews

Maybe, you, me and everyone we know would be better served if you post a link to a review of Donald Ayler's recorded output? I realize you might have to actually, you know, write it. So, I guess, do that, THEN post a link. I'll wait...

Joseph Neff

A vote for posting the Swanberg. Any posts about Don Ayler's IN FLORENCE would be lovely too.

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