Here. My Review…

So I just saw “Here. My Explosion…“, the latest feature from indie filmmaker Reid Gershbein. The film can best be described as being a pseudo-mumblecore feature.

It’s about Sera (Eleese Longino), an artist who has a weird relationship with coffee. Or more accurately, coffee cups from which she’d drunk from. The empty coffee cups make magical things happen to objects around them, when she’s not watching. Yes, I think the basic concept is new and fresh too. And I like new and fresh 🙂

So the film basically revolves around how this “magic” affects Sera, her friends: Tom (Seth Burnham) and Francois (Jeffery Davis). And Francois’s two girlfriends: Lil (Lee Kuhn) and Tegan (Jennifer Jajeh).

The first thing you’ll notice about Here My Explosion is how over-saturated its colours are. To some extent, the effect works really well. I love how all the saturated establishing shots of the city look with the tilt-shift effect added in post to give the illusion of depth. I also like the wide shots that weren’t establishing. There’s this one shot in the beginning of the film of Francois and Lil walking into his house that stuck in head because of how magical and dreamy it looked.

HME_Magic

On the other hand, the over-saturated close-up shots don’t look quite as good. In some of those shots, the skin of the actors look too orange and fake. Other times, it’s not the actors, but an object in the background that’s distracting. There’s this one scene when Tegan and Sera first met that’s like that. Sera was trying to tell Tegan about her art, but I couldn’t concentrate because my attention was being distracted by the hyper-saturated red coming from the flowers behind them.

Why do I call this film a Pseudo-mumblecore? Well, it’s mumblecore because it was shot like a mumblecore film with multiple handled shots, shaky-cam and close-ups that wouldn’t have made sense anywhere else. It’s Pseudo- because it didn’t feel or sound too mumblecore. This is of course a good thing because nothing rapes my ears like the awkward filler-saturated dialogue of mumblecore films. It’s like, you know, kinda like, sorta… Goddamnit! Say something already!!!

Reid knows when to shoot handled and when to keep the camera stationary. He did an amazing job giving the film a “real” feel without being too distracting for the audience. For that, I give props to him. Although, there’s this one scene that didn’t feel right. Sera and Francois were in the car: She’s driving and he’s sitting comfortably in the back seat with no one in the passenger’s side. You don’t see friends driving around like that. It’s just not natural. The only thing missing was a  black suit, and she’d be his very own personal chauffeur.

Let me say it right here and now – I love the theme song. It is simple, yet very catchy. I simply love it. It appears in the very beginning, randomly in the middle and at the end credits of the film.

As for the audio, I have a love-hate relationship with it. At times, it’s clean. So clean, in fact it’ll have you wishing there was more background noise so you can have a more natural sound. Other times, the noise is too bad you’ll have to listen extra hard in order to hear what the actors are saying.

Also, there’s this one scene that was totally silent. Granted, no one was talking, but Sera was moving around and a little music might have helped. The theme-song maybe? Just saying.

Like earlier suggested, I like the dialogue. For the most part, it was natural without being too mumblecore. Everything a character said almost always felt right, with the exception being the ending. I didn’t buy that whole segment with the Colombians.

For the record, I like Sera’s final monologue at the end 🙂

Reid did a good job casting most of the parts. I like Eleese Longino, and I think she works really well as Sera. I buy her as an alternative-artist who’s a little confused about life’s little mysteries. Also, she’s beautiful. Really. Don’t take my word for it, all the characters think so too. They all have a crush on her. Yes, you read that right – ALL OF THEM! 😉

Jeffery Davis as Francois the Ladies Man was perfect too. Jennifer Jajeh plays Tegan well enough, and I think she’s very likable.

Two people I have a problem with are Lee Kuhn and Seth Burnham as Lil and Tom respectively. I don’t know if it’s Lee’s fault or Lil the character’s, but Lil is lifeless throughout the whole film. But that’s mild-criticism at best, being that she doesn’t have that much screen time.

My biggest problem though, was Seth as Tom – the multi-millionaire entrepreneur. To that, I say Bollocks! But that’s hardly Seth’s fault. I mean – Does the film need a multi-millionaire entrepreneur in the first place, who feels that he should tell everyone how much money he has every chance he gets? In my not-so-proffesional opinion, IT DOESN’T. Don’t get me wrong, the character can be there. He just shouldn’t go around telling everyone how much money he has. But if he must, then he should at the very least look the part.

HME2

In the end, seeing that I love the story, acting, music and the pseudo-mumblecore feel to it, I have no choice but recommend Here My Explosion. If you’ve seen a mumblecore film… or Dogme95… or any non “Hollywood” film… and liked it, then you should definitely see Here. My Explosion. It’s as good a film as any in that category.

Download/Watch HME right now – HERE.

Also, if you like it, follow Reid on Twitter – @thraveboy.

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11 Responses to “Here. My Review…”


  1. 1 Alejandro Adams May 16, 2009 at 9:45 am

    The idea of someone arbitrarily riding in the backseat instead of the passenger seat of a friend’s car is inherently charming to me, and your description of it reminds me of what I liked about the opening minutes of the film which I saw online (the teleporting coffee cups in particular).

    I don’t understand the term “pseudo-mumblecore.” Is that just a reference to handheld camerawork? Handheld is all over Reality TV and Hollywood blockbusters. How does that technique relate to mumblecore, unless all the other notorious ingredients of mumblecore films are on display? You could just as well call Star Trek “anti-mumblecore” because it doesn’t have anything to do with mumblecore. But is Star Trek really positioning itself against mumblecore?

    This is a sincere question. I’m curious about the degree to which low-budget films are discussed in relation to mumblecore.

  2. 2 Al May 16, 2009 at 10:50 am

    First of all, thank you for taking the time to read this.

    To answer your question, I call this film pseudo-mumblecore for mainly three reasons:

    1. The feel of the movie: By this, I mean the first impression you get when you first come in contact with the film. The way the characters interact and talk with each other is less Holly and more mumblecore.

    2. Yes, the camera work. True, shaky-cam is all over Hollywood, but Hollywood almost always gives the shaky-cam that extra “film-look” to it that you just know isn’t real. Even a movie like Cloverfield that we’re lead to believe was shot on mini-DV looked anything but. HME had that particular brand of shaky-cam only common in mumblecore.

    But then, what really is mumblecore? I’ve watched maybe four mumblecore films, so I’m not really an expert. Heck, I’m not even sure the fourth one can be classified as mumblecore.

    But by my definition, the elements I feel mumblecore should have to be mumblecore –

    – Annoying 20-somethings.
    – Low budget.
    – Poor or natural lighting.
    – Mostly unprofessional actors.
    – That awkward unscripted filler-heavy dialogue.
    – Awkward/Difficult relationships.
    – Mostly indoor scenes.
    – At the end of the films, mumblecores are more like “A day in the lives of -” rather than a movie that aims to resolve a conflict.

    Which brings me to –

    3. Probably the most important reason, was that Reid told me he was going for the mumblecore feel.

    Because I felt mumblecore is not mumblecore without at least 75% of the aforementioned characteristics, pseudo-mumblecore is my way of saying mission accomplished.

    If I didn’t think Reid was going for the look, I’d never have made the comparison. In the same way that if J.J Abrams had implied that he was going for the mumblecore feel, I would certainly have called Star-Trek “Anti-Mumblecore” 🙂

  3. 3 Alejandro Adams May 16, 2009 at 10:56 am

    So your use of the mumblecore label is a result of the filmmaker’s publicity machine.

    In that case I hope Reid will show up here and explain what HE means by self-applying the mumblecore label.

  4. 4 Al May 16, 2009 at 11:04 am

    More or less.

    But I’m wondering, how would you define mumblecore?

  5. 5 Alejandro Adams May 16, 2009 at 11:12 am

    I have no objection to your list of mumblecore ingredients.

  6. 6 Reid Gershbein May 16, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    I was definitely going for the intimacy that I feel that some of the Mumblecore films have that many other films do not and that I label as Mumblecore because they exist in almost all of them and they are the best contextual reference for me. I’m sure that there are tons of other films and film movements that can be used to describe these concepts, but I am not as familiar or exposed to them. Therefore, I can only use the terminology that I know.

    I don’t know how other people define Mumblecore and since film is a subjective art form and film movement definitions are fairly fluid and not well defined then everyone has a different definition of what this description means to them.

    For me, when I talk of trying to capture the Mumblecore feel I mean that I am trying to capture a very naturalistic feeling and a casual scene structure. This manifests itself in the handheld camera work, the way that the scenes and audio are edited, and the overall pacing.

    However, having this film be defined as “pseudo-mumblecore” is perfect! Because Mumblecore was an inspiration and starting point, and then I departed on creating the film using my own process and not adhering to any specific rules or definitions.

  7. 7 britmic May 16, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    If you ask an old timer like me, I’ll tell you that mumblecore is French Cinema Verite, modernised with easily accessable moviemaking tools.

    • 8 Peter May 17, 2009 at 9:40 am

      I totally agree with britmic, “French Cinema Verite, modernized w/easily accessible tools.” Though allow me to tack on that the subject matter is typically limited to white, middle-class values.

      • 9 Al May 17, 2009 at 10:43 am

        I’m not very familiar with “French Cinema Verite”, but reading the wiki entry, it seems that it’s mostly use in Documentaries and not fiction films, although a few directors have.

        Your theories now makes sense.

      • 10 Peter May 18, 2009 at 5:25 am

        Cinema Verite as a style, not as a subject. The handheld, rough shots, the spontaneous performances which suggest improvisation, the attempt to capture reality without a “rose colored glass.” For example, even a comedy sitcom like “Arrested Development” was known for its Cinema Verite techniques, despite the subject matter.

        To be more accurate, mublecore is Cinema Verite matched with French New Wave, which is, as Wikipedia has it:

        “New Wave filmmakers were linked by their self-conscious rejection of classical cinematic form and their spirit of youthful iconoclasm.”

  8. 11 Sean Duran May 18, 2009 at 2:15 am

    Okay, so I’ve never actually seen a mumblecore film, but I’ve always been intrigued with the style.


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