Tag Archives: Joe Swanberg


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FEATURING: Kent Osborne

PLOT: Defying advice from friends and professionals, Kent Osborne pursues his vision of making the unnecessary sequel to Uncle Kent.

Still from Uncle Kent 2 (2015)

WHY IT SHOULD MAKE THE APOCRYPHA: It’s alternately mumblecore, surreal, awkward, and spiked with one big shot of violence; all told, Kent’s journey through a San Diego convention is pretty strange. But its bed-rising, guest-star-studded 5 & 1/2 minute jack-off finale really took commitment.

COMMENTS: I became so intrigued that I very nearly looked up who the heck this “Kent Osborne” guy is. But no: I came to know him well enough through Todd Rohal’s Uncle Kent 2, with all his insouciant eagerness, playful eccentricity, and defiant self-satisfaction. The onscreen storytelling is low key madcap, with the inexplicable and impossible gelling with the mundane, like Walter Mitty’s daydream jaunts through banality. There are too few “fluffy” movies in the realm of weird cinema, and I am grateful for having met Kent Osborne in such an outing.

This Kent Osborne (Kent Osborne) faces difficulty only once, in facing down his one detractor: Joe Swanberg. Swanberg directed the little-seen microbudget mumblecore drama Uncle Kent, and sees no reason to revisit the premise (loose, indeed, though it was in the first place). He is an utter killjoy at the opening party scene. The following morning, Kent sees his physician on an unrelated matter (chronic ear-worm). After a very long “follow the finger” neural exercise, his physician advises strongly against his patient paneling at a convention in San Diego to promote his latest comic book, “Cat Agent.” But as Kent defied Swanberg’s downerism, so he defies medical advice. What ensues is a whimsical exploration of artistic living and convention culture that becomes increasingly masturbatory.

I will return to this “masturbation” in a moment, but first you should be grounded in an underlying premise behind Uncle Kent. The singularity is real, and it is coming. For those unfamiliar with “simulation theory,” in brief, it is very much as it sounds: we live in a simulation. All these developments toward computerized living are but a replay of something that has already occurred: mechanical intelligence, and humans confined to a Matrix-y way of living. The sweet thing about Kent in Uncle Kent 2 is, he doesn’t mind. He goes through motions, as we all do, with upbeat resignation. He revels in rewatching, and sharing, his own artistic output.

At the convention he makes the acquaintance of a “Cat Agent” cos-player, and the strangeness within his life and this movie accelerates. As he is about to have sex with her, the incarnation of his own mind’s work, she zaps out of existence. He gathers a post-Apocalyptic gaggle of citizens terrified by the rapture-style disappearances. In the middle of a pitch to a co-star of Uncle Kent, just after she requests he begin masturbating for her, she disappears as well. But, Kent masturbates anyway. He’s finished making a movie about himself and his work. Hotel staff, strangers, Swanberg, and even appear and interrupt but, the climax comes—as is its wont—and everything wraps up nicely. Rohal knows we’ve done this all before: mumbling, relationships, whimsylow drama, mid-comedy, and you know what? That’s all right. We’ve got time to kill. Uncle Kent 2 is casually wacky ride (and unless you’re too close to the TV, it won’t make you go blind).

Uncle Kent 2 received a surprise Blu-ray release in 2023 from Factory 25.


“… 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.” -Zach Gayne, Screen Anarchy (contemporaneous)


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FEATURING: Jocelin Donahue, , Richard Brake, Jeremy Gardner

PLOT: After receiving a letter from the local cemetery caretaker, Marie returns to the island where her mother grew up.

COMMENTS: “Rhymes with ‘Smagon’.”

That’s all I’ve got. Because frankly, I have no idea what to tell you about this film apart from the following: it moves by quickly enough (which is a considerable relief) and it tells a mere shaving of the story it could have told. Offseason has all the elements: antiquated motifs (is this set in the ’80s?), madness, tales of a sea demon, and mysteriousness without much by way of reason. This final point is worth exploring, if only because, as in the far-better crafted tales from the Mythos Man himself, one can find something enjoyably unsettling in phenomena with no ready explanation. But Lovecraft’s unspeakable horrors all gelled into a gut-level understanding despite—or rather, owing to—the inexplicability of their horrifying events. Writer/director Mickey Keating’s movie feels more like a cobbling together of random eldritch parts into an ungainly stack of “Meh”.

When Marie Aldrich (wide-eyed and single-noted Jocelin Donahue) receives a letter informing her that her mother’s grave has been vandalized, she immediately heads to Lone Palm Island with her Gentleman (Husband? Ex-husband? Friend? Regardless, he’s played by Joe Swanberg, a poor man’s Philip Seymour Hoffman) and misses her first cue to head home. It’s a dark and stormy night when they arrive, and the bridge keeper (Richard Brake, a poor man’s Stephen McHattie) advises the out-of-towners that the island is “closed for the season.” This revelation is odd, but not so odd that Marie pays it any mind, and she insists on gaining entry. In the cemetery is a friendly Little Old Lady; surrounding the cemetery is a forest filled with blank-eyed townspeople. In town is the local drinking hole, “the Sand Trap” (its name yet another hint), in which a honky-tonk piano tune is being played, and whose patrons literally all stop and stare at Marie and Gentleman upon their entrance. Shifty-but-earnest Man With Boat (Jeremy Gardner, a poor man’s Michael Shannon) is there, and as his designation suggests, he has a boat—and is strangely insistent that Marie visit him later.

You get the gist. Keating somehow manages to overplay the surface goings on while ignoring virtually all of the interesting possibilities beneath. I am not giving too much away when I tell you I am very interested in the deal-with-sea-demon background for this island town. (This particular tidbit is dropped at the slightest prompt by any citizen one might encounter in the… off season.) But the story here spins out over an excessively prodding film score (the strings in particular seem to be shrieking, “Something Unsettling Is Going On!”) and features far too many of Marie’s wanderings through empty streets and semi-creepy back rooms. (I will admit, though, that I quite liked the amble through the historical society.) So yes, please: tell me more about the founding of Lone Palm Island. And spin me some yarns about the arduous existence faced by those who are blessed-cursed by the demon. Come to think of it, this premise was explored with actual tension, and humor, in The Endless. Go watch that again instead.


“If you enjoy surreal, nightmarish horror, then you’re likely to enjoy Offseason.”–Staci Layne Wilson, Women in Horror (contemporaneous)