Volume 20, Issue 11 / November 2016

The Independent Spirit Continues

This issue is a follow-up to our Volume 20/Issue 9 independent cinema special edition. In separate rankings of the most important independent filmmakers the websites TSL (The Script Lab) and the youtube channel watchmojo included the names, The Duplass Brothers, Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry, Sofia Coppola, Spike Jonze, Robert Rodriguez, Jim Jarmusch, Quentin Tarantino, Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson, John Cassavetes, David Lynch, Nicolas Winding Refn, Gus Van Sant, Kevin Smith, The Coen Brothers, Christopher Nolan, and Spike Lee. I would add one of my favorite Indie filmmakers John Sayles, to an already impressive list of directors. Most of these directors have carved out an inimitable style that serves to express their cinematic vision, perhaps none more so than Wes Anderson. Daniel Garrett has written about Wes Anderson before on Offscreen (19/5), on The Darjeeling Limited, and casts his critical eye on The Grand Budapest, perhaps his most popular film. Anderson is unique in that he has always managed to find a perfect harmony between an inimitable and not necessarily easy style and a modest yet consistent box-office success. Garrett touches on the many impressive aspects that have come to define Anderson’s cinematic spirit –his mannered and elegant style, his deft touch with tragic-comedy (or serio-comedy or bittersweet comedy), his breathless attention to formal control, his debt to movie history. What makes Wes Anderson such a vital independent voice is how he is able to take all of these elements and construct a world view that is unmistakably his own and that unmistakably moves and touches audiences at a human level. Although they are both indie filmmakers, there is a world of difference between Anderson and say Scooter McCrae, who we feature in a long ‘career’ interview with a focus on his latest film, the historical horror short film Saint Frankenstein. The interview with McCrae cuts to the heart of what it means to be an independent director on the lower end of the scale (and here I mean budget and industry position rather than quality). Another director featured is Chad Crawford Kinkle, who discusses his indie debut folk horror film, Jug Face. Kinkle achieved his feature film with solid support from indie stalwarts Larry Fessenden, Lucky McKee and Andrew van den Houten. Jon Towlson, author of two provocative studies of horror film, The Turn to Gruesomeness in American Horror Films, 1931-1936 (McFarland, 2016), and Subversive Horror Cinema: Countercultural Messages of Films From Frankenstein to the Present (McFarland, 2014), interviews Kinkle with Jug Face actress Lauren Ashley Carter. Perhaps no cinema defines Independent as much as pornography. When I asked Mark Penny if the film he was writing about, Baby Rosemary, which I had never seen or heard about, was an independent film, he replied, “ALL porn is independent!!” So there you have it. Wes Anderson, Scooter McCrae, Chad Crawford Kinkle and John Hayes (aka Howard Perkins). You can’t get more diverse than that! (Donato Totaro, ed.)

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