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Mumblecore

Jay Duplass & Mark Duplass – The Puffy Chair (2005)

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From Time Out London
‘I’ve got about 50 fuckin’ thoughts and strategies about how some shit is and I don’t know fuckin’ shit.’ Such is the lament of Josh (Mark Duplass, who co-wrote the script with director brother Jay), a would-be indie rocker turned booking agent adrift in an indefinite state of petulant post-adolescence. Josh leads his doormat girlfriend, Emily (Kathryn Aselton), and his hippy-dippy brother, Rhett (Rhett Wilkins), on a quest to retrieve an eBay purchase: the titular piece of furniture, seemingly identical to one from Josh’s youth, and therefore a big red hint about the approximate end-point of everyone’s emotional development. Holding up a mirror to slacker-manqué solipsism isn’t necessarily much more intriguing than the thing in itself, but the Duplass brothers are merciless in digging pot holes and contriving road blocks for the claustrophobic, infuriating road trip that ensues. Josh and Emily’s curdled intimacy rings painfully true, and a memorably aborted dinner early on rhymes with the film’s perfectly abrupt ending; when everyone finally shuts up, the silence is startling. Read More »

Aaron Katz – Dance Party, USA (2006)

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Jessica and Gus, two apathetic teenagers, drift aimlessly from one day to the next until they meet each other. They make a tenuous and fleeting connection when Gus confides in Jessica about his dark past. Read More »

Ry Russo-Young – You Won’t Miss Me (2009)

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Synopsis
A woman struggling with a number of emotional demons tries to make sense of her life in this independent drama from writer and director Ry Russo-Young. Shelly Brown (Stella Schnabel) is the 23-year-old daughter of a woman with a long history of mental illness. Shelly has unfortunately inherited some of her mother’s instability, and the narrative follows her after she’s released from a brief stay in a mental hospital. Shelly dreams of a career as an actress, but at auditions she delivers readings that are intense enough to scare off most casting directors. Shelly wants to bond with other young women in the arts, but her paranoia and multiple insecurities make her a difficult friend at best and few of her peers are willing to bother. And while Shelly thinks she’s ready for a relationship, the manner in which she approaches men tends to result in rejections or one-night stands. Read More »

Josephine Decker – Thou Wast Mild and Lovely (2014)

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Quote:
Thou Wast Mild and Lovely is the wildly imaginative and unexpected second feature from US indie director Josephine Decker. The film is the creepy, erotic tale of married man Akin (Joe Swanberg) who takes a summer season job working as a ranch hand on a remote Kentucky cattle ranch.

Akin craves isolation and here he has only the deranged farmer and his strange, earthy daughter for company. While he can’t make sense of their world – full of inappropriate urges and simmering menace and lust – it’s also clear that he’s not so straightforward; he harbours secrets back at home. Read More »

Lena Dunham – Creative Nonfiction (2009)

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David Lowery wrote:
What is it about the sexualization of English professors that irks me so? I think of the cliche of the sturdy, masculine educator bewitching his female pupils with silver-tongued erudition on the works of Percy and D.H Lawrence and I wonder: what of their poor colleagues, the mathematics professors? Can’t fractal equations be as erotically stimulating as the breakdown of Pyrrhic verse? The answer, as any English major knows, is not likely-there’s little that can so easily compound the psychological dynamics between teacher and student like the aphrodisiacal qualities of language-but it was nonetheless a gust of fresh air to see Lena Dunham so precisely pierce this stereotype in her debut feature, Creative Nonfiction. Dunham stars in the film as Ella, a freshman student at an unnamed Midwestern college, who is working on a screenplay for a creative writing class that, in its early stages, could be synopsized by at least three sentences of this very paragraph. Read More »

Ronald Bronstein – Frownland (2007)

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Quote:
First-time director Ronald Bronstein describes his extraordinary film as “a rotten egg lobbed with spazmo aim at the spotless surface of the silver screen.” Be forewarned: audience response has been intensely divided. Frownland has garnered both passionate raves and scathing denunciation, while festival screenings have ended in screaming matches between patrons. It is strong stuff, yes, but none of its notorious reputation does justice to its savage dark humor, emotional heft and stylistic audacity. Above all else, Frownland is a pitch-black character study of Keith Sontag (Dore Mann), a neurotic, manipulative, stridently unlovable New Yorker whose pitiless roommate aptly describes him, to his face, as “a burbling troll in his underwear.” With the most basic elements of human communication a struggle, Keith lurches his way through an uncaring city, attempting to aid a suicidal friend, evict his unctuous roommate, and simply attain some measure of self-respect. An apoplectic seizure of blind rage, sorrow and bleating humor…Frownland. – Factory 25 Read More »

Michael M. Bilandic – Hellaware (2013)

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Jaded by the “incestuous, New York, socialite sh_t” that sells at prominent art galleries, Nate embarks on a quest for a more authentic brand of contemporary art. When a coked-up YouTube search leads to a music video from Delawarean Goth rappers Young Torture Killers, an Insane Clown Posse knock-off, Nate knows he’s found his subjects. He soon drags his friend-with-benefits Bernadette to rural Delaware to shoot the group playing in their parents’ basement. To “immerse himself” in the group’s culture and add an extra layer of realism to his work, Nate befriends the rappers and makes return trips to get to know them. But as his relationship with group develops, he becomes increasingly aware that, while you can take the boy out of the art world, you can’t take the art world out of the boy. Read More »