SXSW 2015 Review: UNCLE KENT 2 Doesn't Care About This Review

Contributor; Toronto
SXSW 2015 Review: UNCLE KENT 2 Doesn't Care About This Review
...If it did, this write up would be for a very different film. One, perhaps, closer in resemblance to Uncle Kent 1 - a Joe Swanberg Sundance selection from 2011 that, by no means, begs for a sequel.

So what is Uncle Kent 2? It's possible that someone who hasn't actually seen the film would be better equipped to answer this question. Whatever will be said of the film - and I imagine the spectrum of responses will be wide - Uncle Kent 2 is the wtf movie of the year. Though it's not likely to land with, or even screen to, a mainstream audience, Uncle Kent 2 is so thoroughly dedicated to messing with its viewers, the film deserves the very highest accolade at the piss-takers ball, if only such a thing existed.

Take, for example, the film's publicity still - an intriguing frame that sees Kent conversing with an animated version of himself. Does the image successfully compel? Yes. Is it a frame from the film? It is not. Now let's consider Kent 2's brilliant poster, which spoofs action drama thrillers like Heat with its floating heads staring intently over a dark city skyline. The generic art might be the most sequel-ish element of the project. The only tell to the discerning eye that this poster is less than sincere, aside from its lauding a less than macho protagonist, is the film's tagline, borrowed from a tweet conducted upon the film's announcement. It reads: "Cool. Cinema Is Dead."

One might consider the insult to be on the money. After all, if cinema is dead, surely there is no better sign of its disintegration than the scene when Kent hilariously finds himself masturbating to a live performance by Weird Al Yankovich. That said, if the randomness of the moment means we've reached some post-celluloid state of chaos, well, cool. Very cool. It will, of course, require an audience with similar sensibilities to think so, but if what you've read intrigues you thus far, you are just the weirdo director Todd Rohal and writer/actor Kent Osborne have in mind with their hyper-bizarre, laugh out loud, work. More realistically, Uncle Kent 2 has zero audience in mind, other than the filmmaking team itself, who likely couldn't care less what anyone thinks of its opus. After all, why else make a sequel to a film nobody saw in the first place? 

To take a stab at describing the film's "plot", Uncle Kent 2 is about... um... well, itself. This is certainly true of the film's first 12 minutes, which are guest-directed by Kent 1's Joe Swanberg. Swanberg's section, which consists of Kent's efforts to convince him to direct this superfluous sequel to his under-seen film, offers the most coherent sense of narrative. Then, from the opening credits onward Kent 2 descends into anarchy disguised as a story about Kent's trip to Comic-con. What transpires on said trip guarantees to surprise whatever audience the film manages to find, almost by default, considering the events that unfold simply wouldn't occur to anyone.

If Richard Brody, who recently wrote a pivotal book on Jean Luc Godard, was right in his assertion that "everything is cinema" - as he titled said book, which can be found in the background in Kent's office - then, surely, even a film like Uncle Kent 2 applies. But if the opposite is true, few films so decidedly, so hysterically exploit the medium's death. Cool.
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Joe SwanbergKent OsburneSXSW 2015Todd RohalUncle Kent 2Weird Al Yankovich

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