Tag Archives: mumblecore



Matthew Johnson is the director, co-writer, and starring actor in a film not without its controversy, “The Dirties.” It is a film about a school shooting which makes it vulnerable from the start. However, it navigates its subject with a level of self-awareness that gives it a sense of honesty. In other words, this is not a movie out to make a fast buck. What keeps it real is Matthew Johnson.

It is Columbine that springs to mind when Johnson is asked about what compelled the making of this movie. It is the issue that he had to confront when he was in high school. How do you address that horror, and all the others before and since, and avoid preaching in favor of making of art? What this movie does is use the dynamic of a documentary for all its worth.

Instead of the old traditional Hollywood route, and its hyperreality, “The Dirties” uses the found footage genre to tell a simple and direct story about bullying and school violence. A balance is struck between incorporating actual high school students and schools with the actors. The result is understated, down-to-earth, and very believable.

Matt (Matthew Johnson) and Owen (Owen Williams) are two misfits struggling to survive high school. Maybe they will find satisfying revenge from their bullies through their film project. Early on, we peg Matt as the overzealous one and Owen as the passive follower. We already know that this will not end well and that it is most likely going to focus on Matt. What will be Matt’s breaking point? As Johnson points out, “The Dirties” begins where most stories like this end. We actually get to learn something about the Matt character.

The following interview took place October 11, 2013. Matthew talks about the complex issue of bullies, the sweet pursuit of obscure references, Lena Dunham, mumblecore, Quentin Tarantino, Sacha Baron Cohen, and a glimpse of what lies ahead. As for what lies ahead, that seems a quite proper place for a young talent in search of the truth.

Click below for the podcast interview:

Phase 4 and the Kevin Smith Movie Club are proud to present THE DIRTIES. Winner of the 2013 Slamdance Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Film.

Visit THE DIRTIES website here.

Synopsis: When two best friends team up to film a comedy about getting revenge on bullies, the exercise takes a devastating turn when one of them begins to think of it as more than a joke.

Director: Matt Johnson
Starring: Matt Johnson, Owen Williams
Screenplay: Matt Johnson, Evan Morgan

Available In Theaters and On Demand as of October 4, 2013


Filed under Independent Film, Indie, Interviews, mumblecore



“Rubberneck” is a very smart thriller. It will surprise fans of Alex Karpovsky (HBO’s “Girls) who have only known his comedic work. This is darker than you might expect too. Except for a few brief moments to indicate that his character, Paul Harris, has a sense of humor, we find here a slow-burn character study of a very troubled person. Everyone is hip to the obvious funny man going dark ploy which is not a problem here. You certainly don’t get that scary clown creepiness. This is a thoughtful low-key kind of scary.

Good mental health involves accepting yourself and the world around you. For Paul Harris, that proves impossible. The disconnect is so severe that it is only a matter of time before something goes horribly wrong. The script, co-written by Alex Karpovsky and Garth Donovan, brings this out with just the right amount of understatement. Paul Harris does not become the Other to the audience. He doesn’t lose his humanity, utterly and completely, even though he ultimately crosses a line. You can view Paul Harris as something close to the character, Alex Forrest, played by Glenn Close, in Adrian Lyne’s “Fatal Attraction” (1987). But it adds up very differently. More like the enigmatic work of Michael Haneke.

We begin with a holiday office party. Paul chats up a new co-worker, Danielle, played by Jaime Ray Newman. They joke around about the other scientists at the lab and end up in bed. When Paul tries to date Danielle, he is rebuffed. Months pass and he can’t let that go. He cherishes the occaisonal crumbs of office banter he gets to share with her. All that changes when Danielle strikes up a friendship with another co-worker, Chris, played by Dennis Staroselsky.

There are very few connections for poor Paul to rely on. He has his sister, played by Amanda Good Hennessey. And, in an interesting twist, a sex worker, played by Dakota Shepard. Both women show him as much kindness and understanding as they can. But Paul’s inner turmoil goes much deeper than his fragile support system can handle.

Many key scenes are filmed in an actual sceintific laboratory which provides that extra layer of atmospheric realism to the film’s raw and voyeuristic aesthetic. Once we settle into the premise of Paul knowing far more than he should know and not emotinally equipped to handle it, every test tube, Bunsen burner and lab coat will potentially scare you. The melancholic and eerie score by James Lavino, used sparingly and to great effect, rounds out the dramatic tension.


This is a thinking person’s thriller with no easy answers. Paul is not an easy Other to dismiss. He is too much a product of what we all consume and, in his case, that proves too much to bear.

“Rubberneck” is the offbeat thriller you’ve been looking for. It is available on VOD starting February 19. It is in select theatrical release as of February 22: New York: February 22 at Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center; Boston: March 1 at Brattle Theater.

Visit the official “Rubberneck” site here.

Watch a clip from “Rubberneck courtesy of Tribeca Film here.

Follow “Rubberneck” on Twitter and Facebook.

Leave a comment

Filed under Alex Karpovsky, Movie Reviews, movies


Red Flag Alex Karpovsky 2013

Rubberneck Alex Karpovsky 2013

If you’re in New York, you won’t want to miss a double feature of Alex Karpovsky films, “Red Flag,” and “Rubberneck.” One is funny; the other is not funny and a lot scary. The double feature will take place at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Elinor Bunin Monroe Film Center starting February 22nd, complete with opening weekend Q & As with Mr. Karpovsky.

Mumblecore fans know and love Alex Karpovsky for a long list of films. His fan base continues to grow as part of the hit HBO series, “Girls.” He also just completed a role in the upcoming film by the Coen Brothers, “Inside Llewyn Davis.”

And, of course, “Red Flag” and “Rubberneck” will also be available on VOD starting February 19.

1 Comment

Filed under HBO, movies, mumblecore