MUMBLESPUNK STREAMER | Uncle Kent
Currently available via Netflix and Netflix US
A weekend in the life of Kent Osborne, a Spongebob Squarepants illustrator, as he attempts to bed a friend, Kate (Prediger), that he made online who is staying with him. That’s the plot and, at 72 minutes, this at times feels more like an episode of a faked reality TV programme than it does a feature. But, as with the majority of mumblecore movies, what this film lacks in plot it attempts to make up for by representing real people in real situations. Of course, some might say that itself is indicative of reality TV too, albeit a reality framed by the director.
This film hinges quite strongly on Kent and fortuitously he is not a guy that you struggle to relate to. Having reached his forties whilst still living alone with his cat, this is an interesting insight to a man who seems desperate to both get close to someone and maintain an image of nonchalance towards love to his friends. It is the precarious relationship between Kent and Kate, who states that she is in a relationship yet issues an abundance of mixed signals and some not so mixed signals, that kept me intrigued and, by splitting it into days, it elicited a similar guttural reaction to Paranormal Activity every time the sun came up.
This is another movie that will not change the views of those who dislike mumblecore, but one that is definitely worth a watch for those that either do or haven’t given the genre a chance yet.
- Hit us up on twitter
MUMBLESPUNK STREAMER: My Effortless Brilliance
Currently available via Lovefilm
My Effortless Brilliance is effortlessly fine. I can’t really offer more praise than that for it as there really is very little to it. A pretentious, unlikable author is visited by his friend who calls him an arse and then, sometime later, said unlikable author goes to visit friend in his remote cabin in the woods and experience his life for a while, a life far removed from his own. The film ends when he leaves. There are no obvious character developments, the two get closer I guess but then that doesn’t surprise me as they were obviously pals at some point and when stuck with someone for a weekend you either sulk, yell at them incessantly or just get on with it. Here they go for the latter, opting for realism over drama.
And that is mumblecore I guess. There are four characters in the film, one of which is only in one scene, and the narrative is driven by conversations so natural that all four actors also get a writing credit. Sean Nelson playing Eric, the pretentious and unlikable actor, is great at being that but, in a trait seen in several other films of this movement, he is the person you dislike most in the film and so it becomes a little difficult to want to go through this with him. Basil Harris as Dylan, the old friend, and Calvin Reeder as Jim, a friend of Dylan’s who also lives in the woods, are both far more approachable and comfortable characters and it is a strange sensation when Eric says something underhand and abhorrent to one of those characters and you almost feel embarrassed because he is your representation on screen.
This film feels very natural and the constant shots of the countryside that are captured quite remarkably at times act as a precursor to Shelton’s latest movie, Your Sister’s Sister. Shelton has definitely identified herself as someone who can create a compelling story from the normality of life. While you might argue that this film doesn’t aim to achieve anything and offers very little because of this, I was somewhat entertained and at 79 minutes it doesn’t outstay it’s welcome. Unfortunately that’s still not enough for me to recommend it.
- Hit us up on twitter
STREAMER | The Good Night
Currently available via Netflix
This is one of those movies which feels utterly conventional but with a concept that seems fucking bonkers. Martin Freeman and Simon Pegg are old friends and bandmates. Freeman is dating Gwyneth Paltrow and she is a bitch. Freeman starts to have recurring dreams involving Penelope Cruz. To find out what they mean he visits Danny DeVito who is a dream expert. Freeman, preferring his dream world to his waking life, starts to favour changes to his real world in an attempt to move closer to that of his dreams. When, with a third of the movie to go, Freeman meets the real Cruz and finds her to be nothing more than a real person, he then has to choose between these two lives.
Sounds interesting right? It kind of is. In the opening couple of minutes we are introduced to the character of Freeman through talking heads from Pegg, an ex girlfriend and Jarvis Cocker playing himself, and Pegg states, ‘I never thought this is how he’d get famous,’ and then it jumps back two years leaving us intrigued as to how he does indeed become famous. Problem is that this is the first of many unfulfilled promises or ideas that aren’t poorly resolved as much as completely forgotten as soon as the scene cuts. The central plot is just the same as we are presented with Freeman’s choice of a life with Paltrow and their relationship, that is not only holding one another back but the entire film whenever they share screen time and for which we are never shown moments from when they first met and were in love, or Cruz and the dream world that would leave him desperately unhappy whenever not plugged into the dream land.
Problem is that we cannot make that choice because we are treated to endless shots of him in the music studio where he works on shit music for rubbish adverts, the utterly unnecessary private life of Pegg’s character and far too many sequences between Paltrow and Freeman passive-aggressively exchanging words in their flat when we could have been given more time with Freeman so that we could understand his character and the effects that the two lives are having on him. Instead we get these flawed characters with only Pegg potentially having changed by the end of the movie and Freeman, our fucking protagonist, seemingly just allowing chance to be his guide as before.
A really frustrating movie.
- Hit us up on twitter
STREAMER | Dick
Currently available via Netflix
Dick is the female Zoolander. Or possibly Dumb and Dumber. Sure it’s not as funny or good as either of those and the females are younger and so their stupidity more allowable, but all three take a pair of innocently simple friends and place them in unlikely situations where their lack of smarts somehow pays off. However, while Zoolander has its lead manipulated initially and Dumb and Dumber have their couple appear as though they’re lucky to escape their fate repeatedly, Dick instead has its too leads play pivotal parts in a positive way and instead either not realise the ramifications of what they experience or else no one believe their accounts due to them being them.
In this we have Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams somehow becoming intrinsically linked in unearthing the Watergate scandal without ever really knowing it. Along the way they first befriend Nixon and help to shape a lot of his iconic moments before eventually piecing together the evidence that ends with him leaving the White House. It is a cute, stupid film but with a ballsy concept for its genre that you have to respect even if you feel it fails to succeed. For me, it works just fine and having Ryan Reynolds and Will Ferrell in small roles doesn’t hurt.
I laughed often and nodded appreciation at the way they that they weaved the historical landmarks in. A political film for idiots like me.