A Documentary With Components Worthy Of Its Subject.
This well-organized and wittily titled work effectively reveals numerous reasons why the Jon Favreau scripted film SWINGERS has been such a profound success, in an artistic as well as economic sense. Included as bonus material upon a Miramax Collector's Series DVD of SWINGERS, this documentary is divided into four sections, the first being titled "Art Imitates Life: Writing The Story", wherein Favreau, as screenwriter as well as actor, relates that SWINGERS was designed as a comedic treatment of a point in his life during which he was struggling after the end of a lengthy romantic relationship. He points out that several of the most popular monologues of the piece are, at times verbatim, taken from actual conversations shared between Favreau and his fellow actors, with Ron Livingston (interviewed throughout this effort, as is Vince Vaughn) being his first friend made in the Los Angeles area, and that in the course of a one and one-half year period of preparation for the production, an organic hyperreality was developed from elements of those individuals to whom Favreau was closely connected. The second segment, "Life Creates Art: Getting 'Swingers' Made", provides footage of interviews with Favreau and director Doug Liman, along with line producer Nicole LaLoggia, discussing among other topics their sizable degree of disappointment felt at the rebuff of SWINGERS by the Sundance Festival selection committee, followed by a decision against trying to continue selling the script in lieu of making the film themselves, with Liman assisting Favreau in pitching it to potential backers while insisting that he be chosen to direct it. Favreau comments that due to minimal funding, the troupe was "forced to be original", and with but twenty shooting days and a budget of barely a quarter of a million dollars, the film's action was organized, seldom with use of paid extras, at actual Las Vegas casinos, Los Angeles night clubs and parties, etc., Liman doubling as director of photography in addition to creating storyboards, while of necessity being particularly inventive with lighting and sound recording. Section number three, "Life Imitates Art: 'Swingers' Culture", chronicles wide ranging effects of the film after its purchase and distribution by Miramax, evolving into a source of the rather misjudged tongue-in-cheek "cocktail nation" vogue that, along with neo-swing music, is a characteristic of the years 1993/5 in many of the world's principal urban regions. Reported here as well is the process by which several locations, in the Los Feliz District of Los Angeles, after serving as settings for the scenario expanded into being iconic sites as a result of the film's popularity, such as the Dresden Room and the (Brown) Derby. The cultural impact of SWINGERS spread into formulation of clothing trends and popular verbal expression. The last portion of the documentary, "Art Creates Life: Life After 'Swingers'", recounts of the approval of the film by festival audiences, remarkably so at Venice; how Vince Vaughn was signed to a major contract after the first day's showing of dailies; and many of the career benefits gathered in by those engaged in the production of the unique independent film. This documentary work is well-constructed throughout, interchanging the always interesting interviews in conjunction with alternate takes and other incisively edited footage that plants an impression within a viewer that all involved have a clear right to be involved of their contributions to SWINGERS.
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