This weekend Magnolia Pictures released “Two Lovers,” starring Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow, a film that “deals with the romantic ambivalence of a young man in Brooklyn, a description that might set visions of mumblecore dancing in your head,” says A.O. Scott.
To the unfamiglia, Mumblecore is the genre of film made today about the contemporary slacker, or bohemian underachiever as he likes to be called, and the quirky girls they fall in love with while walking around Brooklyn, or San Francisco. Aesthetically, Mumblecore can be stationary black and white camera compositions that hearken back to J-L Goddard and Woodrow Allen, or hand-held, thick and hazy cinematography made by young artists on Cannon XL2’s, Sony HFX-1’s or Panasonic DVX100s (with the 35 mm lens adapter, duy).
For almost 4 years now, Mumblecore has been the dominant mode of independent story-telling, particularly in the NY scene, but as A.O. Scott’s review of “Two Lovers,” shows, mumblecore’s stepping into the mainstream and is therefore ripe for backlash. As Stephen Holden wrote in his review of “Quiet City” a year and a half ago:
“The mumblecore genre, with its minimalist aesthetics, minuscule budgets, home-movie casting of friends and acquaintances and its fly-on-the-wall, quasi-documentary spontaneity, is so wide-open for parody that it is a sitting duck for the most withering send-up.
Now that mumblecore has stepped into the Box Office race with “Two Lovers,” and the film’s promotional schedule coincides perfectly with Phoenix’s professional meltdown, which may be a misnomer because I have a feeling his rap record’s going to be SARS sick, the genre can be fully embraced by the Haterati as a style of filmmaking as self-righteous and bloated as Phoenix himself, who we think’s looking great in his Jim Morrison throwback girth.
As a result, the uinspired haters, believe us, takes one to bro one, who prefer detracting over contributing will deconstruct the form to its loose foundations and mockucore mumblecore to the point where it will most likely be called “Not Another Hipster Movie.”
Or maybe some Brooklyn based filmmaking duo who have already been working on a mumblecore screenplay of their own will revamp their narrative and change their Final Draft cover sheet to read “Dumblecore,” and embark on an indie retelling of a disaffected, skateboarding half-muggle teen in Brighton Beach who may grow up to be the savior of the world.
Either way, we encourage our readers to brace themselves for the impending bastardization of the latest wholeheartedly independent contribution to mainstream cinema, a modern-day realization of the DIY that inspired former dark horse heroes like Linklater, Soderbergh and Smith. Enjoy Two Lovers, enjoy Medicine for Melancholy, and any other mumblecore movie you can get your thick Ray-ban frames on, before it’s too late, for the bromide barb-arians are at the gate, and it’s only a matter of time before the admittedly annoying at times earnestness of mumblecore falls victim to a snark attack of the drones.