Katzs fondness for the almost oxymoron can be seen in the title of his 2007 Quiet City. Sweeter than Dance Party, USA, it concerns a young woman who visits New York (swell, naturally shaky camera work on the subway) who fortuitously meets a guy (unemployed, natch) in a cavernous IND station. Because shes stranded, they spend a lot of time hanging out together. Theres a funny discussion of wine as its consumed from metal mugs, but this is no Before Sunrise; the meet-cute is something more behavioral. Katz is less interested in wit than shifting emotional states and his concern is contagious. As in Hannah or The Puffy Chair, tension is less a function of narrative than a perpetual state of being.
Mumblecores compulsive navel-gazing, paucity of external references, and narrow field of interest is not for every tasteas Sam Fuller told a French journalist who asked him about Rebel Without a Cause, I hate these adolescents and their problems. Like, who doesntalthough, seeing these films, I regret no one was on hand to fashion art from the stoned blather or communal shenanigans of Viet-era twenty-somethings.
These movies may be self-absorbedbut what else could a self-portrait be? Hannah is writing a play about Kant and Newton as 13-year-old boys, which could be how Swanberg views himself and his peers. The least to be said for Bujalski, Swanberg, Katz et al is that they are confronting the conditions of their lives, including making their movies. Its impossible to predict how the Mumblecorps will mature but, given their immersion in the moment, I suspect that the films theyve made will age very well.
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