Saturday, August 18, 2007

Generation D.I.Y.

From left, Ry Russo-Young and Greta Gerwig in “Hannah Takes the Stairs,”
directed by Joe Swanberg, one of the leading practitioners of mumblecore.

My favorite film fan sent me this must-read from the New York Times. If you like knowing the latest about film, here it is: "mumblecore."

"Huh?," you may mumble to yourself, "waasat?" Post-collegiate filmmakers have managed, through the availability of technology unthinkable even five years ago, to make films of a personal nature that aren't, in the first instance, seeking a distributor. Here's the nut of it:

"But what these films understand all too well is that the tentative drift of the in-between years masks quietly seismic shifts that are apparent only in hindsight. Mumblecore narratives hinge less on plot points than on the tipping points in interpersonal relationships. A favorite setting is the party that goes subtly but disastrously astray. Events are often set in motion by an impulsive, ill-judged act of intimacy.

Artists who mine life’s minutiae are by no means new, but mumblecore bespeaks a true 21st-century sensibility, reflective of MySpace-like social networks and the voyeurism and intimacy of YouTube. It also signals a paradigm shift in how movies are made and how they find an audience. 'This is the first time, mostly because of technology, that someone like me can go out and make a film with no money and no connections,' said Aaron Katz, whose movies “Dance Party USA” and “Quiet City” will be shown as part of a 10-film mumblecore series at the IFC Center that begins Wednesday and continues through Sept. 4."

Did you get that? A mumblecore festival! In a few months you will be thanking me for keeping you so up to date. Most of these films were too indie to even make Sundance. How great is THAT? You need only mumble "mumblecore" at your next party to confirm your film chops. The amazing part, in this day and age, is that these trends can move through quite quickly. Those filmmakers who founded this artistic expression, Aaron Katz, Andrew Bujalski, Joe Swanberg, Frank V. Ross (white males all), are reaching their 30s now and moving on to other kinds of film making. We shall see if the 10-film series at IFC will mean the expansion or the end of the genre.

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