Wednesday, December 27, 2023

There There

Bujalski Ushers in the '20s

It always seems a long while till a new Andrew Bujalski movie drops. In the case of 2022's There There I've been waiting ever since 2018's soft-land breakthrough Support the Girls for the follow-up. Never second-guess what kind of premise or form Bulaski's next project will house. In the case of There There, the filmmaker presents a series of one-on-one conversations, with a segment handing off from one character to the next encounter. 

Bujalski's technique here is radical: filmed entirely during the Covid peak, a single respective actor was employed and present for the shot-reverse-shot; incredible logistical planning alone on the filmmaker's and actors' and DP's (the great Matthias Grunsky) eyeline matches. Nothing keeps a great artist down. Love and affection reside at the core of this remarkable, psychologically and emotionally penetrating film.

Yet There There doesn't push a 'realist' agenda: The decor within the opening segment's bedrooms differ wildly from the Lili Taylor shots to Lenny James'. Other films would in post deal with composites of a profile plan américain tracking shot, where the camera would, say, track from left to right and pass through a close-up 'wall barrier' in the process, with one of the participants in a different part of space, a phone call between the figures. The question Bujalski sets forward is, "Why 'do' artifice for its own sake?" There There represents a modern ne plus ultra of the Kuleshov effect.

The title indicates not only the typical sense of assuagement but also the spatial sense, "there" and "there."


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