Joe Swanberg has been the subject of debate pretty much since his first movie, “Kissing on the Mouth”, debuted in 2005. His subsequent films, along with those of Andrew Bujalski and the Duplass Brothers became the movement known as mumblecore. The term was a result of the relative lo-fi camera work and sound; and the films were, for a couple of seasons, a topic of much rancor among the indie film community. Mumblecore, as a genre —or sub-genre— has already given way to the more accurately monikered microbudget film. The term mumblecore is not very relevant any more since most filmmakers, even those operating at a threadbare budget, know that to hire a sound guy is what could very well distinguish their film from looking amateur. Crisp and clear dialogue puts the audience member in the center of the story and does not feel as though they are merely watching a cheap movie. Cheap movies are fine, in other words, but you still need to get lost in them.
When “Hannah Takes The Stairs” debuted in 2007, it changed the game for Swanberg. Up to that stage his films had been mostly ignored by anyone not subscribing to Sundance or SxSW. ”Hannah”, was a hit with audiences and, to some degree, critics. As Matt Zoller Seitz said in his New York Times review, calling “Hannah” a evolutionary entry in the so-called Do It Yourself (D. I. Y.) independent film movement.” So, producers and agents came calling but Swanberg rejected their offers. As he explained to a spare audience at the reRun Gastropub in DUMBO last night, he soon with through a phase after that regretting his decision. He saw his peers taking those steps towards commercial success (eg. “Greenberg”, “Cyrus”, etc.) and wondered if he hadn’t blundered. After a less than wonderful experience collaborating with filmmaker/producer Noah Baumbach on “Alexander The Last”, Swanberg re-calibrated and realized that he was not a commercial filmmaker and D.I.Y. was, indeed, the right way. Continue reading