Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Medicine for Melancholy is closer to Shadows and Stranger Than Paradise than anything Mumblecore

Sometimes people wake up with strange thoughts in their minds; and here's what I am thinking this morning - the film Medicine for Melancholy, even thought it is closer in production date and uses a similar digital format as the majority of the Mumblecore movies, has more in common with Stranger Than Paradise (young alienated characters, the theme of America and assimilation, low key humor, also shot on black & white stock - Melancholy looks and more importantly feels black & white most of the time even though it is presented in heavily modified color) and Shadows (dealing very directly with race, America & assimilation, also segregation & racism). Some are calling Melancholy the "black"-Mumblecore movie, however, if we take another track - that of not defining creative product of minority filmmakers through a relationship with their immediate majority/"white" peers - and were to place the work in a broader American independent film history context - Jenkins's Melancholy seems closer to Jarmusch's Paradise and Cassavetes's Shadows than any work by Bujalski, Swanberg, Katz, Duplass brothers, etc. As in Paradise, Melancholy is mostly indirect in dealing with America and assimilation; but in both movies the theme is very present and becomes explicitly articulated in certain scenes. Shared concerns between Shadows and Melancholy are obvious; one major one being attempts by young Americans to navigate and relate in a social environment heavily shaped by slavery, racism, segregation and in Melancholy's case the disparities in wealth created by the aforementioned forces.

- Sujewa

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