Today at Sundance saw the premiere of Upstream Color, the second film from Primer director Shane Carruth. Trailers for the movie position the film as an enigma, and while the film is hardly mainstream, I would argue that the feature isn’t nearly as impenetrable as those first looks suggested. That said, this film is quite a puzzle, and a very rewarding one.

It has been nine years since Primer made its festival debut, and in that time Carruth has polished his skills as a filmmaker. Upstream Color begins with a base in science fiction, but the sci-fi element is really just a launching pad for a story about two people trying to rebuild their identities after suffering severe trauma. It is an adventurous film, often playing with little dialogue, instead letting strong audio and visual components tell the story.

After the screening Germain and I recorded a video blog to get our first impressions on record. This isn’t a full-fledged review by any means; there’s a lot to think about, and a process to working out how to properly give the film its due without spoiling the mysteries within. That said, I’ve been thinking about Upstream Color constantly since the screening ended, and I don’t think my very positive view of the film is likely to change.

Check out the video below. We dance around the plot quite a bit in the video, and there isn’t anything given away here. Read More »

That image above, featuring Amy Seimetz and Shane Carruth locked in a bathtub embrace, is the first shot from Carruth’s new film Upstream Color. Aside from helping Rian Johnson out on Looper when it shot last year, this is the first new work we’ve seen from Carruth since his 2004 debut Primer. That film became an instant sci-fi classic thanks to its densely-constructed take on time travel as it might affect a couple of regular guys. We’d heard this one would be shooting last fall, but it happened so quietly that we (embarrassingly) hadn’t thought to follow up on it in a long time.

It’s way too early to predict what this new film will become, especially as the released synopsis, below, is… oblique. But its announcement for Sundance next year has sent a giddy wave of excitement through those who have recommended Primer to friends for almost a decade (!) now. A couple other shots from the film are below, and you can start to guess just what we’re going to see when the film premieres in January. Read More »

First love, young love. Those days when it feels as if you’re right on the brink of some flashpoint moment end up burned into your brain. Or the idea of those days is burned in, at least, and that’s what ends up being part of the limitless energy that powers cinema. The Myth of the American Sleepover runs entirely on that energy as it follows a handful of kids on the cusp of adulthood as they try to spark a connection on the last weekend of summer. Read More »

A Horrible Way To Die

A.J. Bowen, Amy Seimetz, and Joe Swanberg have been cast in Adam Wingard‘s thriller A Horrible Way to Die. Written by Simon Barrett (Dead Birds), the story follows an escaped murderer (Bowen) in pursuit of his ex-girlfriend (Seimetz), who has fled to start a new life in a small town. Swanberg plays the ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. The photo above is from the movie, which is currently shooting in Columbia, Missouri.

Barry Pepper (Saving Private Ryan, The Green Mile, 25th Hour) joins Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin and Hailee Steinfeld in the Coen brothers’ adaptation of True Grit. Pepper will play “Lucky” Ned Pepper, the notorious outlaw played by Robert Duvall in the 1969 film adaptation. [Variety]

Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman will star in Wedding Crashers helmer David Dobkin‘s body-switching comedy The Change-Up, written by The Hangover scribes Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. Bateman plays a responsible family man who switches bodies with his lazy man-child best friend (Reynolds). [variety]