Joe Swanberg's most nervous light-sleeper film manages to harness the slow leak of energy from its relatively lengthy gestation and distribute it across a 70-minute drift-off twitch of a movie: a picture hinged on the dead-time in rehearsals and the getting-to-know-each-other period that makes directing a film a courtship with myriad foregone conclusions. The result is a cult extravaganza that will either enervate or excite viewers, — an encounter with toxic greens and moor-mist blues applied on planar mise-en-scène which in its shucked totality affirms the possibilities of cinema on any narrative or economic scale, and asserts the spontaneous heed of one's inner dæmon as never less than crucial.
"You're just ignoring the fact that it's completely provocative. You're saying: 'Hey. Guess what. I wanna cast your best friend Charly who I just met three hours ago to play my girlfriend in my next movie. My next movie which I care so much about. My next movie which is such a huge part of my life. I think I'd just like to cast Charly as my girlfriend — as you.' "
"She wouldn't be playing you."
"No, she'd be playing herself. Your new girlfriend."
The key phrase that reverberates across the picture, as a warning and a credo: is all this "Worth it to you".
"There's no thing that the movies could get me. They get me close to people. That's all that's left."
Kate practicing with the gun in the mirror; Joe's bodkin stare. Kill the fiction / euthanize this process of a film: Silver Bullets, set against Ti West's work-in-progress. Contempt, dangerous game.
Fake out: the silver bullet, device real enough to put a movie to its salt-on-a-slug end. / Hey what's true and false / Hey what's the big put-on
A desperate film. Its hero fetches references, lunges for something, anything to hold on to, from the 1997 David Foster Wallace footage from Charlie Rose, to concocting a loose parallel (concoct your actions in life, as you fabricate art) to Chekhov's The Seagull. Kissing-cousins: Silver Bullets, Abel Ferrara's Mary.
Third-party photographer entwines a couple: makes an image: study of how the two relate (cf. Nights and Weekends).
A monograph on the qualities of images ('degraded' 8mm, low light), surfaces of mystery, the aureole around Kate's head — suddenly Swanberg-Seimetz footage appears like Super 8.
The editing room (the laptop screen) is a space for revelation, the transfixing oracle — or, as Danny Kasman suggested in his piece at The MUBI Notebook (here): between this and Art History, grained (blackout) shore of nocturnal possibility. Claire (Kate) watching the footage featuring Swanberg and Seimetz — in warm colors, neon Tron'd-out red and Halloween III orange.
Put on masks, make kabuki theater (how many permutations of Kate Sheil's face throughout Silver Bullets?) — that's what cinema wants even if an audience rejects the asymmetry in-course. The matter here is not the trajectory of the bullet, but ballistics in the ricochet.
Fever-sequence where footage/circumstances imagined and the emotions of all the scenes and possible scenes of all the films in Silver Bullets, including Silver Bullets, get mixed up in a flourish of arrested-chin sex and B-violence.
And in the end, an epilogue: 2 Years Later (the bookend of the excellent Jane Adams / Larry Fessenden opening) — the discussion on being even matches in a couple, the feeling upon finding someone who's your "equal, or even better" —
(I think this is the most poignant, powerful moment in Swanberg's work to date...)
"Is the work that we made together enough to justify all this?"
Final shot reveals actual wolf: precursor of Art History's astonishing close, Sheil's desiccated stare at-camera, which is simultaneously the gaze directed upon the filmmaker at the moment of editing. / Thus a movement outward and in. / At the moment of justification, / of validation, / you will and you / must feel everything has been / lost otherwise, / otherwise, / otherwise, / otherwise, was worth fucking shit
Previous pieces on Joe Swanberg at Cinemasparagus:
Hissy Fits 
Young American Bodies: Season 1 
Uncle Kent