When I saw that the actor/director/writer Jon Favreau had been interviewed by comedian Marc Maron on his podcast WTF, I was intrigued. The excellent podcast features primarily comedians, musicians and actors and the conversation with Maron gets candid, personal and often politically not correct at all. This is not the kind of platform I associate with anyone that has anything to do with Hollywood superstardom. It’s partly my fault but it also comes from how people appear in print or on TV when they’re doing promotional interviews. So I downloaded the episode with Jon Favreau out of pure curiosity and was extremely well rewarded. E asked me what it was like and without thinking too much I said that I thought Favreau was a very generous speaker. By that I mean he tells stories in the manner of someone who is present in the conversation and willing to share. He was animated, funny, warm and even kind of earnest. I now had to watch Swingers, the movie that played such a pivotal role in Favreau’s career. Of course I had to watch it immediately, so we settled in on a Monday night after work to check it out.
I won’t give you a breakdown of my reactions to the film (yeah it was funny, great performances, etc.) because that wouldn’t add anything of value to the dialogue about a film that came out 17 years ago. It’s long been a part of pop culture and my two bits about how I really enjoyed it are not going to draw attention to any new aspects of it. What I’d like to talk about is the fact that this film was even made.
Swingers was by all accounts, a small, independent film made by a scrappy group of young people, all trying to establish a place for themselves in the movie business. It did everything right – it had a relatable story, a colourful cast of characters and excellent use of location that gave a real sense of place and atmosphere that made the film seem bigger than its budget. It does not need to make apologies for its humble resources, everyone involved was clearly enthusiastic about playing their part in it and they were rewarded for their efforts with success.
I speak as a consumer of cinema, and not as someone who works on the fringes of it (hey I’m the sound girl, no one listens to us) – I do fear that there are movies like this slipping through the cracks now. I know this for two reasons – first, we don’t find enough movies like this when we go looking, and second, this stuff doesn’t necessarily translate on paper. Are there people willing to give a script like this a chance at a table read at least to see how it plays out? What I hear from friends in the business is there aren’t too many.
Swingers was honest, heart-felt (sorry I don’t have a better word than that) and the performances were a joy to watch. I’d go so far as to say it laid the foundation for the (far more raucous) noughties hit series Entourage. If there is a film being written in 2013 that does everything that Swingers did I hope someone out there is getting it made. It would be a shame for it to go to waste.