Karl Marx said that “History repeats itself first as tragedy, then as farce,” but Karl Marx didn’t know shit about the current state of our indie movies—I mean, the guy never even saw Juno. In fact, when taking the pulse of the ouroboros known as Hollywood, it would appear as if Marx had it backwards. Our native cinema repeats itself first as funny, then as sad, a dynamic epitomized by the consistent and comprehensive extent to which the indie film of today processes the shame of the middlebrow film of yesterday.
Consider the decisively narrow chasm between Mick Jackson’s star-studded 1991 Steve Martin comedy L.A. Story and Miranda July’s precious 2005 drama Me and You and Everyone Know. The former is a commercially viable film that plays like the lovechild of Woody Allen and Terry Gilliam (as fostered by Jacques Tati), the latter an affected indie that seems to have sprung from the mind of a hipster imprisoned in a music box, and yet to watch them both in short succession is practically responsive viewing. July’s film feels less like a reimagining of L.A. Story than it does an update, the relationship between the two akin to that shared between consecutive installments of Michael Apted’s Up series. Read David Ehrlich’s contribution to Reverse Shot’s Stuck in the Middle symposium.