I fell a little bit in love with the work of Andrew Bujalski at this year's SXSW Film Festival, and I can tell you the exact moment it happened. There's a batch of long scenes right in the middle of his second film, Mutual Appreciation, describing one long night in the life of struggling indie rocker Alan (Justin Rice). At one point, egged on by a group of girls whose flagging party his arrival has accidentally revived, Alan finds himself in the bathroom, drunkenly wrangling a too-big wig and a too-small dress. At that moment, I realised I was far more invested than I had any right to be - I had been completely, unconsciously, seduced. Ever since then, every time I think about Mutual Appreciation, it's like it's this old boyfriend who I haven't seen in awhile, but on whom I still have a little bit of a crush.
Bujalski's first film, Funny Ha Ha - which opens in New York and Boston this weekend, before expanding to other cities later this spring - is less sophisticated than Mutual Appreciation, but no less seductive. Both films build steam slowly, but eventually inspire open-mouthed engagement - Bujalski doesn't allow the spectator to get ahead of his characters, and as a result, you figure out what they're feeling as they're figuring out what they're feeling. They then almost force you to feel along at home.