WEEK 3 – MUMBLECORE
Tue, May 17, 2016 at 11:11 AM
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, that book I told you about, is definitely a thing. It deals with Guernsey during the German occupation. I haven’t read it, but it might be neat to check out if you’re familiar with the island.
I’ve been really enjoying my exploration of Mumblecore. I’ve heard so much about the genre and had had limited exposure to Mumblecore films (I really enjoyed Drinking Buddies) but it just feels so right to be watching these films, so thank you so much for putting them on the list. It’s crazy to see how influenced my own films have been by a movement that I knew so little about.
Funny Ha Ha was a strange film to watch because it felt like a modern film in many senses (the content of what they were all saying seems like it could have been plucked from a modern day conversation) but their clothing is all so dated, as are their cellphones and cars and hairstyles. It’s wacky to me that a film made in 2002 already feels dated. I didn’t like Funny Ha Ha as much as I enjoyed Dance Party USA…I guess I was a little hungry for more of a plot, or more engaging or mysterious characters, and at times I was really longing for some score, to help me understand the tone that Andrew Bujalski was aiming for. But I really did appreciate what he accomplished, the film was so true to real life, and for that it was definitely worth watching.
Dance Party, USA reminded me so much of Pitching for the Heights, you are so right in making that connection. I liked the themes that Aaron Katz was working with, I was really into both Anna Kavan and Cole Pensinger’s performances. The short but poignant piano pieces that appear throughout the film were really great, and the portrayal of the cityscape (I wasn’t able to identify the city) was totally up my alley. I was also much more engaged with the (loose and limited) plot and particularly Gus’ character dilemma. The dialogue, in particular between the two guys, was hilarious and horrible at the same time.
Dennis Lim wrote an article in the New York Times entitled ‘A Generation Finds Its’ Mumble’, in which he talks about the prominent directors of the movement, Katz, Bujalski, the Duplass brothers, highlighting the fact that they are for the most part men. Wikipedia features a fantastic table charting the major players in the movement, and while Greta Gerwig and Lena Dunham are noted as having directed films, it seems that most of the directors are dudes. Looking back to last week’s chapter on female directors, I wonder what a female director brings to a mumblecore feature. This whole chapter also has me wondering to what extent I draw or want to draw from the Mumblecore genre. As mentioned earlier, Pitching for the Heights definitely contains Mumblecore influences, as do parts of Drawing Duncan Palmer. I like low budget filmmaking, I like dialogue that is more realistic and maybe improvised. I like dealing with the issues of people in their 20s trying to sort out their lives. At the same time, I really like working with music, and I like being ornate, a little bit more whimsical, or sometimes stylized, or sometimes romantic in my storytelling. So I think there’s a lot for me to learn from in these films, and I will hope to continue learning more about Mumblecore.
On that note: I sent you the latest draft of Acres. I thought long and hard about our conversation about cellphones, facebook, the internet, etc. Man, I thought a lot about it. And I was so torn about what to do. On the one hand, you’re right, it makes so much sense to throw cellphones into the story. It would help to establish Yannick’s character, as well as Harriet’s, and would help the audience and Yannick to better understand that she has a fiance, all that stuff. I get it in a big way, and am very tempted to throw more cellphone stuff in. At the same time, I have a very very particular vision for the film, it is really supposed to be grounded in an archaic and pastoral world, one to which Yannick definitely belongs, and Harriet strives to belong to. I feel that cellphones would seriously disrupt the aesthetic and feeling of the world of the farm. But in a way, the appearance of a cellphone might only further emphasize the beauty of an untouched field or forest. (Can you see how torn I am? haha, I’m going back and forth). I decided in the end to compromise – we can have the cellphone at the very beginning of the story, when they’re in the car, talking about Yannick through facebook, so that the world of the “yuppie, city people” is established, but outside of the setting of the farm. I just think that Harriet would get it, she just wouldn’t want to be using her phone at the farm. Anyways, lots of thoughts on this issue.
Now, as for next week: I’m heading out of town for the weekend, and my disc drive for my laptop doesn’t work. I’m supposed to be watching The Dirties, Amy George and Diamond Tongues (all of which I’m super excited for) but I might have to push those films back a week. (Both my boyfriend and my brother have told me they want to watch Diamond Tongues, so that one I might push back a ways into the summer.) Let me know if that’s okay with you, we can always do some re-arranging on the schedule.
Hope your trip’s going well!