Nerve at SXSW Film 2011: Mumblecore goes meta, plus four short films about Arcade Fire

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So, there I was, snarfing down free pork sliders and St. Patrick's Day booze at a promotional Beaver party the day after the film's SXSW premiere, when I look up and discover the pretty blonde standing next to me is none other than Jodie Foster. Turns out the star director was there (accompanied by her co-star, Anton Yelchin) to speak about her movie's topic — depression — and to promote the two mental-health-awareness groups co-sponsoring the event (with Participant Media): To Write Love On Her Arms and the Kristin Brooks Hope Center.

Foster then vanished as quickly and mysteriously as she'd appeared, and I moved on to Silver Bullets, an especially navel-gazing specimen of the common SXSW species cinematica mumblecorus. ("Mumblecore," for those who don't know, is an incestuous mini-genre of loosely-plotted vérité-style indies with rambling, seemingly improvised dialogue and fetching young leads who aren't afraid to get naked.)

Greta Gerwig, the Marilyn Monroe of the movement, has lately come to Hollywood's attention thanks to her literal and emotional exposure in films like Nights and Weekends. Which she co-wrote and co-directed with Joe Swanberg. Who directs and stars in Silver Bullets as a guy directing and starring in a mumblecore movie about a guy having sex with a Gerwig-esque actress played by Amy Seimetz, last seen in Tiny Furniture with Lena Dunham. Who recently had a small cameo in the mumblecore horror flick The Innkeepers, which was directed by Ti West. Who appears in Silver Bullets as the director of a mumblecore horror flick who's hot for his leading lady (Kate Lyn Sheil), a.k.a. the girlfriend of Swanberg's character. (See? I told you it was incestuous!)

Of course, despite all the DIY camaraderie (and, yes, nudity), many viewers lack the patience for the genre's low-wattage style, and without the live-wire charisma of an actress like Gerwig in the mix, Silver Bullets is unlikely to win many new converts to the cause. Things picked up at my next screening, though, which featured a quartet of compelling short films including director Spike Jonze's Scenes From The Suburbs, a production in collaboration with (and inspired by) Arcade Fire's Grammy-winning 2010 album.

But near-misses and pleasant surprises are par for the course at South-By-Southwest, especially in the final hours — so be sure to stay tuned for Nerve's festival wrap-up, coming soon!