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Beeswax

a film by Andrew Bujalski

Whatever one's opinion may be on the "movement" collectively known as Mumblecore (and those opinions vary from DIY maestros to know-nothing upstarts!) one cannot deny its existence - or can one? Thought of by many as just a passing, albeit somewhat unique phase (I am thinking this is the camp for me) and therefore useless to discuss since it will not be here for much longer (yes, this is definitely my camp - especially since I was once supposed to write an article about Mumblecore, but lost interest part way through - it wasn't a paying gig anyway). Seriously though, even as we speak (or as you read this) those filmmakers most associated with the movement (leaving the word out of those demeaning quotes this time around), such as Andrew Bujalski, Joe Swanberg and the Duplass Bros. are already moving on to supposed bigger and better things - or at least bigger budgeted things (the Duplass' are working with John C. Reilly now!). Yet Mumblecore perseveres, and in doing so, Beeswax comes along and blows me right out of that camp I had been parenthetically visiting.

Though undoubtedly a full-on Mumblecore movie, Beeswax takes on a much more powerful position in both its artistic stance and emotional depth. Surpassing last year's rather enjoyably melancholy Hannah Takes the Stairs and joining Bujalski's black & white starkly humble treatise on the listless nowheresville Gen Y slacker breed, Mutual Appreciation, Beeswax makes a case for the movement to stick around just a bit longer (see, even after my earlier grumblings, there are some Mumblecore I actually like!). More mature than typical Mumblecore (I do like that term they coined though!) and perhaps with a bit more pretention too (a necessary so-called evil in filmmaking!?) Beeswax is perhaps what we get once all the kiddies have grown up and learned how to make art instead of just taped together peculiarities like much of what earlier (and fringe) Mumblecore can be.

The story of twin sisters with issues and attitudes galore, Beeswax could have been an actor's dream, if not for the casting of real life, non-acting twin sisters in the roles. In union with so-called third world cinema, and their penchant for non-professionals, Mumblecore often times feels more real (even if it may be a somewhat uninteresting reality) than other movies of the modern age - or any age really. Much like the films of Bresson, but whereas Bresson merely wished his "models" to stand there and pose while his armed camera swirled about them, Mumblecore expects these non-actors to talk and breathe and, gulp...act. In doing so, much of Mumblecore seems amateurish in comparison. This is where Beeswax differs, for the sisters have enough realness (they better, eh?) to seem believable but also enough aplomb to make it all work. [08/02/09]

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