Direct from the Sundance Film Festival - UNCLE KENT Now On DemandJanuary 22, 2011

Direct from the Sundance Film Festival - UNCLE KENT Now On Demand

Sundance Selects

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: Direct from the Sundance Film Festival - UNCLE KENT On Demand (Sundance Selects).

Learn about all five films available simultaneously from the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and On Demand here.


Mumblecore’s Mid-Life Crisis
By Adam Schartoff

Kent (Kent Osborne), a solitary 40-year old animation artist, mostly sits around his Los Angeles apartment drinking beer, hitting the bong and working at his computer. Clearly Kent’s a smart and talented man whose earnestness draws people to him, but lately Kent seems to be shrinking from life.
He prefers spending time online or hanging out with his cat to actually going out and meeting someone. Joe Swanberg’s new movie UNCLE KENT, one of the Sundance Selects choices that will air on VOD during the course of the festival this month, finally drags the mumblecore generation into full adulthood, kicking and screaming.
UNCLE KENT (Sundance Selects)
UNCLE KENT (Sundance Selects)

Kent has become skeptical about getting married; he’s reconciled being single. Sex, for instance, is generally handled autonomously. As he says to his pal Kev (Kevin Bewersdorf), “I can sit on the couch until I’m hungry and then eat whatever I want.”  Despite his protests, its clear that he still yearns for emotional connection. Hence, inviting Kate for a weekend visit.  Kate, as played by newcomer Jennifer Prediger, is a woman Kent recently met on Chatroulette, an online video chat service. She flies in from New York City on the premise of business –she’s an environmental journalist -  but also ostensibly to figure out how she feels about Kent, not to mention the boyfriend she left at home.  

In order to keep himself emotionally in check, Kent hides behind his video camera through much of their weekend. Otherwise they tiptoe around each other barely recognizing the obvious attraction they share for each other. Instead they behave almost adolescently sharing explicit and intimate details of each other’s past and current sex lives. This titillating process eventually leads them to meeting up with a young woman named ---- whom they meet on Craiglist and whom they end up taking home for a threesome. 


UNCLE KENT (Sundance Selects)
UNCLE KENT (Sundance Selects)

It’s clear as long as there is a third party involved to keep them at a distance, whether it be a video camera, a boyfriend back home or a third sex partner, Kent and Kate will never realize the relationship they are both obviously looking for.  UNCLE KENT isn’t necessarily a great movie but it does honestly explore how terrifying it is coming to terms with past decisions. What is independence in one’s 20s is loneliness in one’s 40s.

It’s a frank film and certainly the filmmaker’s most mature to date. Joe Swanberg is one of the architects of the mumblecore genre having directed some of its best known films including HANNAH TAKES THE STAIRS and ALEXANDER THE LAST. The productions values of this film remain fairly lo-fi and Swanberg unnecessarily shoe horns himself into the film.
Joe Swanberg
Joe Swanberg (Sundance Selects)

It would be nice to see him work with a more substantial budget going forward like his comrades Andrew Bujalski and the Duplass brothers have, perhaps deciding to frame shots as opposed to intentionally not framing them.

UNCLE KENT ends on a somber note, with Kate speeding off in her rental car and Kent, once again, alone at his computer. As he winds down from the whirlwind weekend, there is a sense that the quiet is more deafening than it was only days before.

- Adam Schartoff

Adam Schartoff is film journalist for several film-related web sites as well as Media Editor for WestView, a downtown NYC newspaper. He lives in Brooklyn.


UNCLE KENT is Available under Sundance Film Festival via Sundance Selects On Demand Until 2/28/11
Running Time 72 Minutes / TV MA

Direct from the Sundance Film Festival
Learn about all five films available simultaneously from the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and On Demand here.


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Sundance Selects




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