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“Happy Christmas” spells a different kind of giddy holiday cheer for one wayward woman and her beloved bunch

Happy Christmas

Written and directed by Joe Swanberg

USA, 2014

It is an inherent belief that the holiday season and family gatherings go hand-in-hand like puffy earmuffs on an exposed frozen ear. Well, writer-director (and co-star) Joe Swanberg backs up this assertion with his dysfunctional familial gem Happy Christmas. The gift-giving in Happy Christmas is predicated upon breezy disillusionment, personal and professional malaise, and the underscoring of being unfulfilled. Once again Swanberg puts his unique stamp on the microscopic root of relationships and the fragile consequences of coping with the pressures of such interaction.

Swanberg — whose underrated 2013 romantic comedy Drinking Buddies examined the vague connections of a male/female co-worker best buddy relationship with undercurrent sexual attraction — delves into the quirky dynamics of a sibling tandem and the circle of family and friends that make up their existing bubble pitted against the background holiday cheer. Happy Christmas is gingerly perceptive and
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‘Happy Christmas’, the newest film from Joe Swanberg, releases its first trailer

Over the course of his filmmaking career, Joe Swanberg has garnered a number of fans with a filmography that includes Hannah Takes The Stairs, Caitlin Plays Herself, and Drinking Buddies, as well as a contribution to the horror anthology V/H/S. Many were excited to hear that the filmmaker was already well into a new project, which made its debut at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. Titled Happy Christmas, Swanberg once again takes on writing and directing duties, while also appearing onscreen alongside Anna Kendrick, Melanie Lynskey, Mark Webber, and Lena Dunham. The first trailer for the film has now been released, and can be seen below.

(Source: Collider)

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Indie Spotlight: Director Joe Swanberg

You’ve probably seen his work before.

Director Joe Swanberg is best known for directing “Drinking Buddies” last year that starred Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson and Anna Kendrick. He was one of the collaborators in the cult favorite horror compilation “V/H/S” with the segment called “The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger.”

And maybe you’ve seen him on the big screen like the recent horror thriller “You’re Next,” in which he played as one the family victims.

Swanberg made his directorial debut with the 2005’s indie film “Kissing on the Mouth,” a film about recent college graduates on sex. And then he followed up with “Lol,” that starred with Greta Gerwig. With Gerwig, they further collaborated with 2007’s “Hannah Takes the Stairs” and 2008’s “Night and Weekends.”

In 2010, Swanberg became extremely busy directing seven films with “Uncle Kent,” “Caitlin Plays Herself,” “The Zone,
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Film News: Joe Swanberg to Premiere Two Films at Chicago Filmmakers on July 5, 2012

Chicago – Wildly prolific indie filmmaker Joe Swanberg (“Hannah Takes the Stairs,” “Uncle Kent”) will return to his hometown of Chicago on Thursday, July 5th, for a double feature of two new films, “Caitlin Plays Herself” and “Marriage Material.” The event kicks off at 8pm at Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark St., and will include a live Q&A with Swanberg himself.

Both pictures center on seemingly content relationships that have reached a potential crossroads. “Caitlin Plays Herself” was one of six films that Swanberg made in 2011 (the others are “Uncle Kent,” “The Zone,” “Silver Bullets,” “Autoerotic” and “Art History”). It stars Caitlin Stainken (of Neo-Futurist fame) as an actress whose provocative performance art pieces cause her boyfriend (Swanberg) to feel uncomfortable. It’s her nude performance inspired by the Bp oil spill that pushes him over the edge. 2012’s “Marriage Material,” which made its viral debut in January, explores the repercussions
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Joe Swanberg's "Caitlin Plays Herself"

  • MUBI
The clip comes via Filmmaker's Scott Macaulay: "Continuing an extraordinarily prolific phase that has also encompassed his year-long subscription service, Joe Swanberg premieres his latest film, Caitlin Plays Herself, tonight at Brooklyn's reRun theater. His new star is Caitlin Stainken, a member of the Neo-Futurists Theater Ensemble." As always with Joe Swanberg's films, reviews fall on either side of a pretty wide split.

"Co-written by Swanberg and Caitlin Stainken, the movie is a sad, simple, and effective glance at a relationship that, more substantially, explores the blurred distinctions between life and art," writes Henry Stewart in the L. "A lot of the movie's 70 minutes are filled what the title implies: Jeanne Dielman-lite snippets of eating a banana, reading a magazine, rotating compost, writing, rehearsing conceptual theater pieces…. Swanberg, who shares cinematography credit with sometimes-collaborator Adam Wingard, shoots in long takes, never editing within scenes, a realism-enhancing technique that
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Swanberg’S Latest At reRUN Tonight

Continuing an extraordinarily prolific phase that has also encompassed his year-long subscription service, Joe Swanberg premieres his latest film, Caitlin Plays Herself, tonight at Brooklyn’s reRun theater. His new star is Caitlin Stainken, a member of the Neo-Futurists Theater Ensemble.

Here’s the description and a clip.

Making its North American debut, Caitlin Plays Herself is the last in a trio of provocative, self-reflexive new dramas premiering at reRun this season from acclaimed auteur Joe Swanberg (Silver Bullets, Art History). Inspired by Eric Rohmer’s The Green Ray and the life of lead actress Caitlin Stainken (a member of the “Neo-Futurists” experimental theater ensemble), the film screens for a week-long theatrical run from December 2 – 8.

Caitlin, a young Chicago 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 when her boyfriend can’t
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