Celebrating 17 Years of Film.Biz.Fans.
by Eric Kohn
March 13, 2009 5:09 AM
35 Comments
  • |

SXSW Snapshot: Joe Swanberg's "Alexander The Last"

A scene from Joe Swanberg's "Alexander The Last."

Joe Swanberg's earlier films reveled in aimlessness to achieve their thematic intentions. As characters hung out, had sex, and talked about the pithy details of their twentysomething lifestyles, Swanberg would gradually assemble portraits of relationships that naturally arose from the settings. That was the idea, anyway -- at best, a movie like "Hannah Takes the Stairs" can make real people seem legitimately entertaining without the crutch of Hollywood contrivances. His follow-up, "Nights and Weekends," worked around an unsettling breakup story with mixed results. At times it felt too open-ended , or too self aware, but occasionally Swanberg hit on an enterprising synthesis of visual clarity and poised observation of human behavior. In his latest feature, "Alexander the Last," he finally makes that combination work.

The movie isn't a huge step for Swanberg so much as a smooth elevator ride up from his previous works: the sex, the chatter and the romantic despair all have a familiar ring. Instead, Swanberg's has vastly improved his production values, yielding a far more cogent narrative. The story of married Brooklyn actress Alexander (Jess Weixler), whose role in a play causes her to become attracted to her co-star (Barlow Jacobs), the movie focuses on subtle temptations. While her husband (Bishop Allen singer Justin Rice) goes on tour, Alexander tries to set up her co-star with her rambunctious sister (Amy Seimetz), inadvertently setting up a love triangle in which she participates. Most of "Alexander" explores the gradual acceleration of tension between the sisters, at times making the movie feel more like a thriller than some kind of romantic drama. It's hard to identify a genre for the movie since it continually defies expectations.

Although few scenes seem a bit misplaced (one where the siblings imitate baby sounds sort of irritated me), "Alexander" generally develops with a swift pace and credible performances. It's a truly cinematic achievement, gorgeously shot by Swanberg with intriguingly symbolic mise-en-scene. He has made an authentic feature-length movie, not a mere accumulation of moments. The results -- finally! -- illuminate his strengths as a director. Now we know what he was going for in the first place.

(Check out a trailer for the film and an interview with Swanberg here)

TAGS: Reviews
You might also like:

35 Comments

  • johnmyer | March 26, 2014 4:32 PMReply

    I love it The Magic of Making up review

  • johnmyer | March 26, 2014 4:31 PMReply

    The Magic of Making up review
    I am hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts from you in the future as well. In fact, I watch them onDish Network Vancouver Washington Dating Advice For men & Women Review

  • Rahul | March 22, 2014 2:12 AMReply

    Its also worth remembering that in the same way that characters age, their audience age too. If the story lines don't develop then Swanburg might alienate the original fanbase WWE Raw 3/24/2014

  • bharat | March 22, 2014 2:11 AMReply

    i love watching his stuff.
    Keep up the good work.

  • tynesrqst | March 11, 2014 7:43 AMReply

    I have to thank you for the efforts you've put in penning this blog. I am hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts from you in the future as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own website now watch Missing William online

  • JoeLevis | January 25, 2014 5:19 AMReply

    A production house refers to a company that is in charge for the development and production of films. In some cases the production house may also be responsible for raising the funds for the film.Production House In Hyderabad,IndiaVideo Production Services India,Hyderabad.

  • phuong | December 22, 2013 10:44 PMReply

    So amazed that That was the idea, anyway -- at best, a movie like "Hannah Takes the Stairs" can make real people seem legitimately entertaining without the crutch of Hollywood contrivances.

  • Anthony @dressycart.com | November 2, 2013 10:57 AMReply

    Although few moments look a bit missing "Alexander" commonly builds up which has a quick velocity and also reliable tasks. It is a absolutely cinematic achievement, gorgeously opportunity through Swanberg having intriguingly a symbol mise-en-scene.

  • Christian | October 7, 2013 5:04 PMReply

    I like it! Swanberg should do more movies like this. I watch them onDish Network Vancouver Washington

  • bacheloretteparty | July 17, 2012 3:20 AMReply

    That's impressive to read about the Joe.
    www.amazingbacheloretteparty.com

  • lifealifea | July 4, 2012 2:18 AMReply

    http://www.loubouitnvipsale.com/
    Christian Louboutin Shoes
    christian louboutin sales
    christian louboutin on line store
    christian louboutin free shipping
    cheap christian louboutin sale shoes
    Christian Louboutin Sale at the lowest price

  • lifealifea | July 4, 2012 2:18 AMReply

    http://www.redbottomheelsvipsite.com/
    Christian Louboutin
    Red Bottom Shoes
    Christian Louboutin Sale
    http://www.redbottomheelsvipsite.com/
    Free Returns
    Exchanges

  • lifealifea | July 4, 2012 2:17 AMReply

    http://www.e-karenmillensales.com/
    Karen Millen

    Outlet Karen Millen Sale
    Karen Millen
    Karen Millen Dresses
    Karen Millen clothes
    karen millen shop online
    karen millen quality
    free shipping

  • JillBryant | November 8, 2011 4:45 AMReply

    Ha,Alexander The Last is worth watching :)


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    "If you are not inside a house, you don not know about its leaking.

    Uggs Schoenen | Uggs Nederland"

  • derek | August 8, 2011 12:46 PMReply

    Swanberg’s work is great, i love watching his stuff.

    Cebu

  • spring88 | August 1, 2011 9:36 AMReply

    Joe Swanberg's film which I have saw several department, each film gave me a deep sense of education. He is not an extraordinary actor, although sometimes his films at the box office is not high, but in my eyes, he is great, I will always support him!

    http://www.herveleger.me.uk/

  • Blake | December 27, 2010 5:18 AMReply

    Piece of crap frankly... the director seems to be amateurish... snapshot review alexander the last

  • baby shower games | May 25, 2009 12:52 PMReply

    "Alexander the Last"? is it really a movie, this the first time i heard about it. This one sound interesting, let me check the movie shelves and find one. Thank you.

  • freegrantmoney | May 16, 2009 10:27 AMReply

    Hi, interesting post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for blogging. I will probably be coming back to your site. Keep up the good work

  • freegrantmoney | May 16, 2009 10:26 AMReply

    hmmm...,
    could be interesting
    I was thinkin about this topic
    thanks for the post.

  • tommy345 | May 15, 2009 9:23 AMReply

    Its also worth remembering that in the same way that characters age, their audience age too. If the story lines don't develop then Swanburg might alienate the original fanbase

  • andy007 | May 15, 2009 7:44 AMReply

    Swanberg’s work is great, i love watching his stuff.

  • tolo87 | May 15, 2009 7:06 AMReply

    All in all, this is great movie.

  • buckyuk | May 8, 2009 9:34 AMReply

    I think Swanberg's work is great, i love watching his stuff.
    Keep up the good work.
    Alan

  • Marlet | April 30, 2009 5:07 AMReply

    He finally got there in the end. I always thought Swanberg was a decent director, but this film will definately get him more of the attention he deserves, and maybe a change to direct a blockbuster movie sometime soon :)

  • kostas21 | April 18, 2009 2:55 AMReply

    Joe Swanberg shows his qualities as a director once more. Angela, you are right in my view.

  • rr2009 | April 15, 2009 2:23 AMReply

    Pretty true when it comes to few scenes they really do seem a bit misplaced. I've been following Swanberg and I wasn't really sure what he was trying to convey with this movie. However there were instances when I did see some points. Overall I'd say ok.

  • Stephenchpl | April 13, 2009 12:20 PMReply

    Good to see Swanberg latest doing well. I enjoyed the movie. For an independent film maker, it's not easy to get notice. Selecting Jess Weixler to play the main character helped this movie succeed.

    -Stephen

  • parid07 | April 13, 2009 7:24 AMReply

    At best, a movie like “Hannah Takes the Stairs” can make real people seem to be good. Although few scenes seem a bit misplaced it was nice

  • parid07 | April 13, 2009 7:23 AMReply

    At best, a movie like “Hannah Takes the Stairs” can make real people seem to be good. Although few scenes seem a bit misplaced it was nice

  • tolo87 | April 12, 2009 3:58 AMReply

    The movie isn’t a huge step for Swanberg so much as a smooth elevator ride up from his previous works: the sex, the chatter and the romantic despair all have a familiar ring. Well I guess that this looks like a great movie to me. Mike

  • Dynam | April 7, 2009 12:24 PMReply

    it is those subtle thoughts and feelings in a relationship, that is difficult to catch in a movie. I think Alexander The Last do a good job if we think the movie in this term.

  • OhReally | April 7, 2009 7:34 AMReply

    I suspect you're probably right Angela, but I still think it looks interesting. I will give it a chance. At any rate, I think Swanberg's character are usually not all that likable, which can make things interesting.

    Tom

  • alagausun | March 31, 2009 3:12 AMReply

    At best, a movie like “Hannah Takes the Stairs” can make real people seem to be good. Although few scenes seem a bit misplaced it was nice

  • AngelaE8654 | March 17, 2009 10:15 AMReply

    As the characters age, this type of plot won't work. They will have to "fill out" the lives of the people; "hanging out" doesn't work when twentysomethings turn into thirtysomethings.