Tension mounts between a director and his lead actress on the set of a sexually explicit low-budget film. As the actress and her co-star develop real feelings for each other, the director's jealousy erupts, sabotaging his own production.
Raw. Honest. Naked. "Kissing on the Mouth" is post-college life in close-up. Ellen is sleeping with her ex-boyfriend while trying to ignore the fact that he's looking for more than just sex... See full summary »
Caitlin, a young Chicago performance artist, struggles to create work that is both personal and political. A piece she performs about the BP oil spill sends her relationship into a tailspin because her onstage nudity bothers her boyfriend.
Emily and Andrew, a young couple living in Memphis, agree to babysit their friend's 7-month-old for a day. The experience causes them to examine their own relationship and their feelings about marriage and children.
Do-it-yourself filmmaker Joe Swanberg is beginning to become "the Woody Allen of mumblecore" with me in the regard that whether or not I like one of his films I'm comforted by the notion that he will indeed make more films that will hopefully surpass the one I just watched. Mumblecore - the infamous independent movement that Swanberg helped pioneer - is a very tricky genre to tackle because your response will largely be devoted based on how much you like the characters and believe their struggle.
In 2011, Swanberg directed, starred, and pioneered a shocking seven feature films, one of them being Uncle Kent. Swanberg's prolific-status is one of his biggest benefits but also one of his biggest curses. It allows for his great ideas to be released to the public quickly (take Hannah Takes the Stairs, which I think will resonate with many post-college students), but also leads to some of his ideas being half-baked and underdeveloped (his descent into the horror genre with Silver Bullets).
Uncle Kent centers around the title character (Kent Osborne), who is a kid's show cartoonist that is often found secluded in his apartment, smoking pot, and batting off ideas for his show, usually with his best friend. Unfortunately, Kent is extremely lonely as he is into his early forties and can't hold down a stable relationship. He attempts to crush this stifling feeling of loneliness by trying to get in touch with Kate (Jennifer Prediger), a woman he met on the popular video-chatting service Chatroulette. Kate is an environmental journalist, who, despite Kent's true affection for her, still can't shake the love she possesses for her boyfriend. We watch their relationship unfold throughout the course of one long weekend.
There are two things that seem very commonplace in Swanberg films, and they're two things I do not object to in the slightest. One is relationships and interactions through the use of social media. Swanberg seems genuinely fascinated by the way human-communication has evolved with the birth of the internet and the birth of webcams, chatrooms, texting, etc. His choice to focus on a relationship that would've never even seen the light of day without the creation of the internet is nicely realistically portrayed on screen.
The other thing is the way the characters talk to each other, in an open, conversational, often sexually explicit way. They don't beat around the bush - per-say - and dive right into intimate conversations about sex, masturbation, and other topics that have been sheltered in mainstream cinema, only emerging as subjects we laugh at. Very few films feature characters that will openly show you how they masturbate and even fewer will show it in a serious light.
Uncle Kent is no burden on the viewer, at only seventy-two minutes in length and seemingly flying by in half-the-time. Swanberg perfectly introduces us to these characters, lets us form an opinion on them, and then gives us just about as much humanity and soul into the project that a film like this needs to work. If it hadn't been stuck with an ending that fails to summarize the excursion or tie it together in an efficient way, I'd may call it a small little masterpiece.
Starring: Kent Osborne, Jennifer Prediger, and Joe Swanberg. Directed by: Joe Swanberg.
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