It's Mumblecore!

Films by, for, and about twentysomethings are having a moment. IM someone about it.

Katz’s 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 she’s stranded, they spend a lot of time hanging out together. There’s a funny discussion of wine as it’s 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.

Mumblecore’s compulsive navel-gazing, paucity of external references, and narrow field of interest is not for every taste—as Sam Fuller told a French journalist who asked him about Rebel Without a Cause, “I hate these adolescents and their problems.” Like, who doesn’t—although, 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.

Hannah and her mister: Mark Duplass and Greta Gerwig
credit: Joe Swanberg
Hannah and her mister: Mark Duplass and Greta Gerwig


The New Talkies: Generation DIY
IFC Center, August 22-September 4

Colloquial Williamsburg
Fumbling Brooklyn hipsters fail to connect in Bujalski's fascinating micro-budget indie Mutual Appreciation
by J. Hoberman

The Graduates
Funny Ha Ha captures twentysomething indecision, like, perfectly
by Dennis Lim

The Puffy Chair
Mark Duplass's aura of shaggy-dog doofusness

These movies may be self-absorbed—but 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. It’s impossible to predict how the Mumblecorps will mature but, given their immersion in the moment, I suspect that the films they’ve made will age very well.

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