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Kevin Bewersdorf (#110 of 2)

Sundance Film Festival 2011: Uncle Kent

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Sundance Film Festival 2011: <em>Uncle Kent</em>
Sundance Film Festival 2011: <em>Uncle Kent</em>

Aesthetically ungainly and thematically familiar, Joe Swanberg’s Uncle Kent finds the writer-director plumbing the same tired issues, albeit from a slightly older perspective. Rather than the twentysomethings of his prior works, Swanberg’s latest focuses on 40-year-old Kent (Kent Osborne), a single artist on a kids’ cartoon show whose life consists of petting his cat, drawing, drinking beer, smoking pot, and hanging out with his obnoxious co-worker Kev (Kevin Bewersdorf). As with many of Swanberg’s protagonists, Kent lives his life through a filter of modern technology, filming himself and others via a flip cam and spending copious amounts of time on the Internet and, specifically, Chatroulette, where he draws photos of the weirdoes spied on the other side of the Ethernet connection—including a faceless regular who strokes his cock for the Internet hordes. As Kent reveals to an acquaintance (Swanberg) staying at a producer’s lavish house, dating at 40 carries with it the stink of desperation, and marriage, though theoretically coveted, is a frightening proposition that leads to loss of slacker freedom (he likes being able to get out of bed whenever he wants!), rather stock hang-ups that Swanberg fails to develop in any meaningfully complex way.

Joe Swanberg’s LOL: Looking at the Present, From the Outside In

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Joe Swanberg ’s LOL: Looking at the Present, From the Outside In
Joe Swanberg ’s LOL: Looking at the Present, From the Outside In

There is a scene in the beginning of LOL that represents the film’s basic ideology: An unseen Internet user plays a video that a young woman has made, as she announces, “for you.” It would be easy to confuse the referent of “you” (her boyfriend) with the person directly addressed (whoever is actually watching). “This video is for your eyes only,” she tells the camera. She then proceeds to perform a striptease.