Aug 9, 2009

I Hate Mumblecore

I had to listen to the reviews, instead of trusting my instincts.
And so there we are, wasting a good two hours of an otherwise lovely Summer evening, at a screening of Beeswax, by mumblecore's resident genius, Andrew Bujalski. I had never seen any of his movies, so this was as good a time to try. I have seen many previews to other films of this "genre" (independent movies made by hipsters who seem to think that their arrested development and that of their friends is somehow interesting fodder for a film).
To judge from Beeswax, it isn't. Earwax is more like it.
This is what I could glean from almost two hours of nothing much happening:
We are supposed to be impressed at the forced and inauthentic inarticulateness of the characters, who spend much of their time on screen being unable to say a complete sentence. I posit to you that nobody on Earth speaks like, huh.... I... don't... know... gee... wow... hmmm... these... ha.... ah... peeo...ple. Unless they think that acting like a retard is a sign of hipness. In the movies, dialogue like this is also known as excruciation. But we are supposed to think it's very original and iconoclastic.
There is a plot, which if it weren't weighed down by the conventions of the genre (charmless hipsters, horrible lighting, mumbling, a forced sense of spontaneity), would be mildly interesting. Two twin sisters live in Austin (where hipsters need to counteract their Texan surroundings by toxically overdoing the hipsterness). One of the twins has one of those cute vintage stores that make me break out in hives. She is in a wheelchair and she is a bit of an asshole. The other one is some sort of teacher and tomboy who wears purposefully ugly clothes. The store owner has problems with her partner, another inarticulate person. Everybody has deliberately ugly haircuts. The partners can't understand each other, and end up suing each other. I could go on, but I can't because it is so boring.
I can surmise that perhaps the film is about the personal and the entrepeneurial, but it is as inarticulate and as sophomoric as its characters and I simply don't find these traits worth celebrating. I am not a phillistine who wants just action and explosions in films, but I want some drama. Some crackling dialogue. Some conflict that is not idiotic. Some energy from the performers. And some respect for the audience. Maybe, unlike the audience of mumble lovers, I wasn't born yesterday. I don't confuse deliberate sloppiness with originality.

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