It took about twelve features and (give or take) eight years, but Joe Swanberg‘s mainstream break is right around the corner. While his more traditional comedy, Drinking Buddies — a relatively well-received item at SXSW, aside from our mixed take — prepares for its August release (and the widest release of the writer-director’s entire career), news of a potentially more significant work has come in: with some chance, the first true meld of his signature, rough-hewn aesthetic and genuine commercial viability.
Boasting the finest credentials of his short-but-productive career, Swanberg‘s project — said by IndieWIRE to currently have the title of Happy Christmas, though this is subject to change — is led by Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Lena Dunham, and Mark Webber, the pack of whom lead a script centering “on a family and is set during the holidays.” (Seeing as his films are not exactly known for intricate plotting, chances are the actual “narrative” of this piece doesn’t extend very far elsewhere.) And whereas Drinking Buddies is noted as a significant formal leap, this Christmas tale marks a notable, intentional glance backward; in working with Beasts of the Southern Wild cinematographer Ben Richardson, Swanberg has composed on Super 16mm. In a nostalgic form of reason that somewhat befits the holiday, it was handled like so with the desire “to do it at least one more time.”
Being pre-occupied with two other projects in their editing stages, Happy Christmas won’t hit until an unspecified festival (possibly SXSW once more) in 2014. Fans can take comfort in the knowledge that three other movies are coming within twelve months or so.
What do you think of this possible change in Swanberg’s exposure?
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