This is Happening

February 14th, 2019

Super November, directed by Douglas King, written by and starring Josie Long

Sorry to Bother You, written and directed by Boots Riley, starring Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson

“Rap critics that say he’s money, cash, hoes
I’m from the hood stupid, what type of facts are those?” – Jay-Z, 99 Problems

“Take the big key and open the door to the living, breathing past
The one you enliven over and over,

To the ship’s port, or the house of the welder;
To the library door of Donald Dewar.

Then picture yourself on the threshold,
The exact moment when you might begin again,” – Jackie Kay, Threshold 

Super November is a film of two halves, with a break in filming reflected by a jump in the story we see on the screen. People disappear from the plot along the way. Cameos in the first part don’t get the intended pay off. Haircuts change. The substantial details of the narrative are left largely unexplained.

The first part of the movie concerns a librarian called Josie who’s on the edge of what seems like a pleasantly boozy romance with a nice lad who’s in the Scottish Green Party. The influence of mumblecore is overt enough that it’s been built into the production and promo cycle of this low budget comedy, but Super November‘s endearing roughness highlights the interconnectedness of aesthetic choices and material possibility.

If the film feels like it was being put together on the fly, with everything from its dialogue style to its central narrative conceit working around the availability of certain players and locations, then that’s because it probably was.