Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The "M" Word, and Meaning in Independent Film

Here's an article from the film journal Cine Action on the "mumblecore" movement of the last few years. I'm glad the author is in support of DIY cinema, but it's always frustrating to me that these types of articles always stay within the confines of what has been deemed as "mumblecore" and all but ignore the larger independent, digital, no-budget movement out there. The title of this particular article is, after all "Micro-Budgeting, Micro-Drama, and the 'Mumblecore' Movement," The "m" word being only one of those three terms. Perhaps I'm being too harsh. One can only write about so much in the space of an article, of course. I guess I just wish American independent film was a little more unified and a certain section of it not fenced off and given a funny name. And although the author does not do it here, the part is often mistaken for the whole.

Also to her credit, the author does try to fit the movement within a larger context she dubs "slow film." I'm not quite sure it works. It's much too broad a descriptor, but it touches upon what I think is central to independent film, which is how these films create meaning, and how much richer, more complex they often are in that regard than middle-minded masterpieces. In other words, termite art versus white-elephant art, to paraphrase Manny Farber. And to paraphrase Ray Carney, whom I regard as the authority par excellence on this subject, these films take away the aboutness of experience and force the viewer to undergo the experience. That's why independent film (and indeed all "art film") is important. Film should nourish the soul. Anything less is a diversion.

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