“We don’t need a studio. We don’t need ten ‘yes’-es. We don’t need to pitch it. We can just make a movie.”

Joe Swanberg and Jake Johnson discuss Digging for Fire. Read our interview here.


Frances Ha (2012) - “It’s That Thing”

It's not just about the Oscars: 50 Essential African American Independent Films

Thank you Jennifer Reeder for bringing to our attention this amazing list of African American independent films. So many of our favorite films here across the history of American cinema, from American  Indies  from the ’60s to recent “mumble core” films (usually the purview of straight white dudes), to the LA School of filmmakers who attended UCLA from the ’60s-’80s. Granted, only about 20% listed are by women, but relatively speaking, not bad, and all must-sees, including by Camille Billops, Julie Dash, Tanya Hamilton, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Dee Rees, Yvonne Welbon, Jessie Maple, Kathleen Collins, Jennie Livingston. 

Title: Baghead.

Number: Fourteenth.

Writer-DirectorsJay & Mark Duplass.

Genre: “Mumblecore” horror-comedy.

Released: 2008

Seen on: DVD.

Seen Before: Never.

Starring: Ross Partridge, Steve Zissis, Greta Gerwig, Elise Muller.

Running Time: 77 minutes.

Favorite Performance: Steve Zissis as Chad.

Favorite Line: “Oh Jesus, you are sick man.” Movie in a nutshell.

Favorite Moment: Chad, Michelle & Catherine sneak into a party whilst talking on their phones, and then Matt, in an attempt to do the same, but having forgotten his mobile, uses his wallet as a phone, and gets caught. Was just a silly idea that I smiled at.

Thoughts: This was my first meeting with the idea of ‘mumblecore’, I didn’t know anything about, it was just the idea of the film itself fascinated me. At the beginning, I wasn’t expecting much, and wasn’t feeling that impressed, especially with some of the performances.

But then, as the film went on, I started kind of liking it. There have been millions of crappy edited horror movies, but this one, whilst I may not have liked all of the characters, did seem more character orientated. It wasn’t really even a horror, more a dramedy (drama comedy) with horror elements. Yes, there was nothing new here, but it did feel better done than a lot of similar films.

The acting, which is imperative in a film such as this, wasn’t as bad as I expected. Steve Zissis made a good everyday man who struggled with his attraction to an unattainable girl, he was likable, funny in sections, he just surprised me, and of the four, I feel he has the best future as a solid, Paul Giamatti esque actor.

Ross Partridge was the good looker of the male side, and yet, in certain scenes, he gave a good emotional subtext I didn’t expect, sometimes making you sorry for him when you didn’t want to be. Elise Muller was the better of the two female acts, she seemed more natural and believable in the role, I felt more as if I was watching a woman rather than an actor, if you get what I mean.

However, Greta Gerwig, the supposed breakout star, was the weak link for me, whilst her performance gradually improved, she just seemed less natural, trying to get your attention, and I just didn’t connect with her at all. She seemed shrilly and over the top at times, she put me out of the film slightly.

As a representative of the new genre 'mumblecore’, it was better than expected. It is worth a watch, but it isn’t anything new. More, just a solid film. Though the final scene didn’t particularly impress me, I admit.

Thumbs Up, 6 out of 10.