There's Hope For Uncle Kent

In Joe Swanberg's latest entry Uncle Kent we see that there is still passion in the indie film scene.  Here at Cineniche we have followed the director's prolific career from his debut Kissing On The Mouth in 2005 forward.  Each film seems to offer a different side of Swanberg's own psyche.  His method of treating cinema as a naturalistic forum have caused controversy not only in the film snob community but also with censors.  The standout element of Swanberg is his dedication to telling small stories in such a way that feel voyeristic and comical.  There is always a sense of high energy in each of his films, and this is due to the almost stream of conscious way they are made.  He treats his films almost as documentaries.  In the beginning there is an outline - no script - and from there the non-professional actors fill the films with a deeper meaning than can sometimes be written in a screenplay format.  Uncle Kent is no exception.

Kent Osborne stars as Kent and while he's playing himself this is by no means an exact replication of his life.  Kent in real life and Kent in the film are both animators and are both forty years young.  The story that takes place is one that happened in Kent's life but is embellished here for cinematic purposes.  Uncle Kent uses "Chatroulette" as a catalyst for the film.  In the same way that L.O.L. used technology as a satire.  As a precursor to the film, Kent has become friends with the lovely Jennifer Prediger whom he met on Roulette.  She comes to stay with him for the weekend and the two get very close to one another but Josephine has a boyfriend back in New York.  So while the two seem to share great chemistry we wonder if they will consummate their feelings for each other.

Handled by a mainstream filmmaker, Uncle Kent, would have taken us down the likely rom-com path.  What is so great about Swanberg is his ability to infuse realism within each story he tells while still keeping our full interest along the way.  We care about Kent in a way that we seem to never care about Ashton Kutcher, Gerard Butler, Robert Pattinson or any other leading men in modern rom-coms.  He opens himself up to us and gives us his flaws and method of masturbating which we can laugh with and find endearing at the same time.  This is the brilliance of Swanberg's work.

As a potential spoiler we have to give credit to the clothing choice of Kent.  He wears a shirt that reads: In reality there are no happy endings.  This seems to sum everything up and not only within Uncle Kent but within the entire Swanberg or Mumblecore universe.  These films tell us something about reality that reality television, most documentaries, and all of Hollywood cannot.  By keeping these films small and making them for the sake of making art they keep their philosophical rendering of the human condition intact.  Swanberg's films have always made me think of a perfect combination of Eric Rohmer and early Lars Von Trier - the first in subject manner the second in technique.

Congratulations Joe, we hear you've created seven films in one year and they all sound very promising.  It is our goal to continue supporting you as long as you continue creating.

Rating: V/V


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