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Anna Kendrick, Jake Johnson, Orlando Bloom, Sam Rockwell & More Join Joe Swanberg's New Film ‘Digging For Fire’

by Edward Davis
April 30, 2014 5:35 PM
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Drinking Buddies
Magnolia Pictures Magnolia Pictures' 'Drinking Buddies'

For the uninitiated, indie filmmaker Joe Swanberg’s career kind of runs like this (reductively of course): 8 bazillion indies, about 10 a year, from 2005 to 2012 (ok, maybe more like 13 features in seven years with a bunch of shorts thrown in for good measure). They are… ok. But the SXSW Film Festival loves them, dubs them mumblecore and his positioned as the next great white hope for indie filmmaking. People like Noah Baumbach throw some endorsements (and executive-produce a film), but as the heir apparent of anything, well, buzz is always impractical anyhow.

But something happens in 2012; Swanberg writes a script, still employs his improvisational techniques, but works with…professional actors – Olivia Wilde, Jake Johnson and Anna Kendrick – and it crackles with life and emotion. “Drinking Buddies” is easily his best film to date and it sparkles with incredible acting chemistry. And so it appears that Swanberg is creating a troupe. Anna Kendrick starred in Swanberg’s 2014 follow-up “Happy Christmas” (our review from Sundance here) and she’s set to appear alongside him again as is “Drinking Buddies” star Jake Johnson.

The Wrap is reporting that Swanberg’s already wrapped production (yes, he works at a super fast pace. The film is called “Digging For Fire” and stars Anna Kendrick, Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Jake Johnson, Brie Larson, Orlando Bloom, Jenny Slate (“Obvious Child”) and comedian Mike Birbiglia (“Sleepwalk With Me”). Uh, hello, we call that an awesome cast. Damn (the trade says, Johnson and DeWitt star, while Rockwell, Larson and Bloom have significant supporting roles and Kendrick, Birbiglia and Slate have smaller roles, FYI).

Swanberg evidently co-wrote the script with Jake Johnson, so clearly the "New Girl" actor felt the same about their previous collaboration. Plot details are under wraps. Ben Richardson (DP for “Beasts Of The Southern Wild” who also shot “Happy Christmas”) shot the film on 35 mm.

Johnson actually revealed some of this a few weeks ago, but many (including ourselves) failed to notice. “I’m working with Joe [Swanberg] again this summer,” he said in March of this year. “We’re doing another movie with Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt and Brie Larson. There will be a lot more beer drinking in it.” We'll drink to it, that’s for sure. A nod to the Pixies song, maybe?

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  • jun | May 3, 2014 2:04 PMReply

    "Swanberg evidently co-wrote the script with Jake Johnson"

    Misleading. Doesn't swanberg just come up with really basic stories and then tells his actors to do whatever they want? That's hardly writing a script. This guy always gets great actors who perform pretty well, but I don't understand why he never wants to try writing an actual script and making a well thought out movie for once. Like damn, step outside of the mumblecore box at least as an experiment.

  • Dee | April 30, 2014 9:48 PMReply

    Drinking Buddies is NOT a good movie. The pacing is off, Olivia Wilde's character is reprehensible and her acting is lazy, and the awful ambiguous ending leaves MUCH to be desired. Stop pretending it is that great of a film. Seriously, stop.

  • Anthony | May 1, 2014 9:52 PM

    I agree with pretty much everything you said. Except I thought Olivia did a decent job. The entire film felt like a short story stretched into a feature. Which led to a domino affect, scene's running to long, bad editing & so forth. I found what drove me nuts more than anything. Was some of the cringe worthy dialogue. The whole mumble core genre sounds interesting, but seems more like a fad in film making. I have yet to see a story told well in mumble core form.

  • Justin Alexander | April 30, 2014 9:02 PMReply

    Using the term the big white hope is extremely racist.

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