Tag Archives: Linklater

Mumblecore ‘godfather’ Andrew Bujalski is back, and still finding his cinematic role ‘Funny Ha Ha’

28 Apr

By Tom Meek

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Director Andrew Bujalski, right, with actor Kevin Corrigan on the set of his 2015 film “Results.” (Photo: Ryan Green/ Magnolia Pictures)

Funny, it feels like “mumblecore” is a genre from the distant 1980s or ’90s, but it’s much more recent: The term was coined in 2005 by sound editor Eric Masunaga at the South by Southwest Film Festival, when he used it to encompass the lo-fi independent films “The Puffy Chair” by Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass, “Kissing on the Mouth” by Joe Swanberg and “Mutual Appreciation” by Andrew Bujalski. Bujalski – for whom Masunaga has been a longtime collaborator – is often referred to as “the godfather of mumblecore,” and his first film, “Funny Ha Ha” (2002), about a wayward young woman (Kate Dollenmayer), is widely considered a cornerstone of the canon.

Bujalski, who grew up in Boston, studied filmmaking at Harvard and shot that debut feature in and around the area, is back in town for a 20th anniversary screening of the film Thursday at the Coolidge Corner Theatre with a Q&A moderated by Cantabrigian filmmaker and critic Gerald Peary. (Look for some insider play with Peary, who had a small role in Bujalski’s fourth feature, “Computer Chess.”) I spoke with Bujalski about labels and the challenges of making low-budget films and supporting a family.

“I think the only thing that was different, quote unquote, or new or seemed to capture a moment was a generational divide. We just happened to be the young people at that moment,” Bujalski said of the “mumblecore” term. “Lord knows I was not setting out to define any kind of aesthetic or anything.” Mumblecore films by definition are low-budget, dialogue-driven and feature young stars, with a generational vernacular often punctuated with “uhms” “likes” and “you knows.” “Chatty movies about young, middle-class white people,” is how Bujalski sums it up. 

The making of “Funny Ha Ha” had a lot of happenstance to it. Bujalski had Dollenmayer in mind when he wrote the lead role of Marnie, a recent college grad who tempers her malaise with alcohol and sets her sights on a college friend already in a relationship. The two were roommates in Boston, but after college Bujalski was living in Austin, Texas, and Dollenmayer was looking to go to grad school in L.A. Fate, family and friendly resources landed them back in Boston to do the shoot – they had thought about L.A., but Bujalski said that would have been a “disaster.” The film wrapped in late August 2001, just two weeks before 9/11.

Bujalski’s presence in Austin isn’t an accident. One of the key cited influences for mumblecore (which has a horror subgenre called “mumblegore”) is Richard Linklater’s 1990 debut “Slacker,” which kicked off a new ripple of independent filmmaking. “Talk about godfather,” Bujalski says of Linklater (“Boyhood” and “Waking Life” – the latter being one of the few other films Dollenmayer worked on), a fellow Texan who runs the Austin Film Society and has made the city something of an indie filmmakers’ haven. 

Of his own, mumblecore “godfather” tag, Bujalski laughs, both embracing it and shrugging it off. “At the time it kind of irked me, because it felt like a slight,” he said.

Now no longer the 20-something he makes films about, Bujalski is married with 7- and 11-year-old children. With his 2015 get in shape flick “Results,” his work went upscale with some A-minus-list actors (Guy Pearce, Coby Smulders, Kevin Corrigan and Giovanni Ribisi) and a bigger budget – but he remains coy about that, saying only that all of his seven films could be made for what a first-time Sundance smash might cost. (The Internet says $30,000 for “Funny Ha Ha”). His films generally gross north of $100,000 and garner critical raves.

Of money, Bujalski says, “I have two modes: not care, and panic. I’m getting close to panic now.” For “side hustles” Bujalski says he does whatever comes his way in the industry, including working on the dubbed version of the critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated French film “I Lost My Body” (2019), a Best Animated Film pick by the Boston Society of Film Critics. 

Bujalski is working on his seventh film, “There There,” which includes Lili Taylor, Jason Schwartzman and Lennie James of “The Walking Dead” among its cast. The director was reticent to describe it beyond not being the film Bujalski set out to make; Covid thwarted those plans, and he pivoted to “There There.” (Bujalski also did not say what that eighth feature might be about.)

“We’re not sure how to describe it,” Bujalski said of “There There.” “We’re just gonna put it on the screen and let everybody else tell us what we did.”

Everybody Wants Some!!

15 Apr
The bad boys of Everybody Wants Some have more than baseball on their minds

 

If there’s one thing about Richard Linklater, it’s that he’s true to his Austin, Texas roots — he’s a keep-Austin-weird independent. He served notice with Slacker back in 1991, and while that movie looked to be a one-hit Sundance wonder, Linklater came back with the uproarious Dazed and Confused, which gave the world Matthew McConaughey and Ben Affleck, and Before Sunrise, the latter spawning two more chapters with the same actors. More recently, he delivered the wildly acclaimed dissertation on growing up, Boyhood, which was filmed over the course of 12 years.

And that brings us to what’s tagged as a spiritual sequel to  Dazed and Confused, Everybody Wants Some. While that connection may seem a stretch given the fact that Linklater’s latest centers on a collegiate frat house of baseball players at a fictitious Texas university in the 1980s, in temperament and scope and a healthy dose of humorous, cutting snark, Everybodyis right in the strike zone.  Continue reading

subUrbia, then and now

27 Oct

The Rick-trospective: subUrbia

A salute to Richard Linklater’s body of work, one film at a time

The Rick-trospective: <i>subUrbia</i>

In honor of the November 7 release of Paste Movies Editor Michael Dunaway’s documentary 21 Years: Richard Linklater (in which Paste is the media partner), we’re going through the indie master’s entire oeuvre in order, film by amazing film.


Richard Linklater’s always been something of a modern day documentarian, dredging that banal everyday which is formed by technology and culture, and unearthing the explorative, self-reflecting fossils of the individual adrift in the societal sea. Linklater’s first few movies, Slacker and Dazed and Confused, were tales of youth and the young muddling about—full of ennui, little forward motion and unpromising future prospects. Granted, Before Sunrise hit theaters in 1995, but it’s subUrbia, released a year later, that’s the apt conclusion to what one might call Linklater’s Austin slacker trilogy.

subUrbia, however, was not penned by Linklater, but playwright, social satirist andLaw & Order regular, Eric Bogosian. Linklater’s transposition from Bogosian’s Woburn, Mass., roots and New Jersey set, to sleepy Burnfield, Texas, a neighborhood of Austin where five young people occupy the limbo after high school by loitering outside a convenience store, drinking and grousing about the ruts they’ve become stuck in, aligns seamlessly with where Dazed and Confused left off. As any of the five would have it, the American Dream that evades them has been hijacked by the Pakistani couple who own and operate the store as a stepping stone to higher education and a happy white-collar existence. Continue reading

Before Midnight

8 Jun

‘Before Midnight’: Third in lovable series takes some work, like any relationship

By Tom Meek
June 6, 2013

People say marriages are work, but the reality is that relationships are work and, married or not, they become more work when you add kids to the mix. Such is the situation in which we find Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (the ever graceful Julie Delpy, who bares all, or most, for her art). It’s now another nine years since they reconnected in Paris in “Before Sunset” and have produced a set of curly-haired twin girls – who put zero strain on the couple, as they are always asleep or being watched by others. But Jesse, as we learn in a mini shocker, also has a preteen son and a problematic ex-wife, and to add to matters Celine has been offered her dream job in Europe. Driving through the Greek countryside on a family getaway, the debate du jour becomes whether Jesse should move to Chicago to be a positive influence on his son, who is going through a rough patch, and should Celine take the job, and, if so, should they collectively move to Europe?

060613i Before MidnightMost people would envy such heavy choices, but this is the third (and perhaps final) episode of Richard Linklater’s “Before” series and another cheeky exercise in endless talk, philosophical what-ifs and passive self-indulgence, which isn’t bad, mind you, it’s just not a real thing for most people.  Continue reading