Comments on watching and making films.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

DVD - Nights and Weekends

Joe Swanberg's films are always something I hold a certain amount of anticipation for. It's a little annoying that they, generally, can not be seen theatrically (except for SXSW appearances, and occasional special screenings, generally held in cities far, far away). One of the best things I think Joe has ever done is team up with Greta Gerwig, as evidenced in his third feature, Hannah Takes The Stairs, and his follow up Nights and Weekends.

Nights and Weekends stars Joe and Greta as James and Mattie (respectively), a long distance couple who only get to be together every couple of months. James lives in Chicago, and Mattie lives in New York, and they seem to get along really well, but there are cracks in their relationship, the kind of cracks that are exacerbated by the distance they are constantly fighting through. When James goes to visit Mattie in New York one weekend, she drops the bomb and breaks up with him. Fast forward a year or so, and James makes a surprise visit to New York, and ends up hanging out with Mattie again. But will the good or the bad of their old ways be what comes out in both of them?

Nights and Weekends is definitely Swanberg's most accomplished feature to date (He's already made and premiered another film at SXSW, Alexander The Last, at the time of this writing). He is moving farther away from the graphic, and somewhat meaningless, sex of his first feature Kissing on the Mouth, and moving closer and closer to actually mixing real and meaningful story with a realistic shooting style that includes nudity and frank depiction's of sex. Night's and Weekends real power is in Greta Gerwig's performance, when she manages to channel all of the nervous energy, paranoia, and indecision of a young person in love. Swanberg, who is fairly solid as an actor, delivers a good performance, as well, though I feel like he sometimes has this Jimmy Fallon-esque quality to him, where he's laughing at his own jokes. There are some GREAT scenes in this film, especially the one in Chicago where they're out in the rain, and the NYC hotel scene, near the end, with the bathrobe joke. Nights and Weekends is a fabulous journey into men and women and their inability to relate to each other over a long term relationship, especially when distance is involved. I loved it, and I can't wait to see his next one.

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