‘The Act of Killing’ Tops Sight & Sound 2013 Poll

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End of year lists can be great for highlighting stuff you may have missed, and the annual poll from UK film magazine Sight & Sound, one of the first 2013 year-end lists out of the gate, has a number of films included that are worth tracking down. The magazine polls over 100 “international critics, curators and academics,” taking a top-five list from each. The magazine’s list of top films (with some tied for a couple berths) is generated from those votes.

Documentary The Act of Killing, which follows as men responsible for genocidal killings in Indonesia confront and recreate their crimes as film scenes, took first place by a margin of five votes. Gravity and Blue is the Warmest Colour are the second and third place choices.

The full list is below, complete with trailers for each film, so you can be introduced to whatever films on the list are unfamiliar. Read More »

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Dave, Devindra, and Joanna from Pajiba discuss the brilliance of Upstream Color, the unevenness of Baz Luhrmann’s filmography, and how The Mindy Project found its groove.

You can always e-mail us at slashfilmcast(AT)gmail(DOT)com, or call and leave a voicemail at 781-583-1993.
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Primer and Upstream Color writer/director/star Shane Carruth is an exceedingly generous interview subject. You might expect the creator of two very thoughtful pieces of genre film to be aloof or overly cerebral. But in conversation he has a tendency to react with exclamations like “wow” and “that’s so great” followed by thoughtful and digressive answers.

Maybe it’s just that I spoke to Carruth partway through Sundance, after Upstream Color had been shown only a couple of times, and he was still processing audience reactions. The film is not a typical narrative, and while it is also not outrageously obscure or difficult to puzzle out, I can imagine that Carruth might have been concerned about how audiences would respond to the picture. The chance to positively converse with people about something you’ve crafted in a bubble must be a source of great relief, even oh exultation. Every “wow!” seemed to be like a moment where Carruth realized that his experimental narrative worked, rather than one where he was impressed by the question.

Be warned that the conversation that follows is full of spoilers for Upstream Color. I sought, originally, to talk about the film in a way that wouldn’t give things away, but that intention dissipated with Carruth’s very first answer. There’s no way to talk about this film without really getting into the details of it. Fortunately, even when talking about the details of the plot, there’s a lot of room for interpretation with respect to meaning — Upstream Color is a film that will provoke many different readings. Read More »

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What a beautiful thing, Upstream Color. Shane Carruth‘s second film is a melange of surprises and delights. For an audience familiar with Primer, Carruth’s time-layering ouroboros of a debut, one element may be more surprising than all others: simplicity. Though the telling of this new film is by no means conventional, the core is an elegant idea, yet one rich enough to foster myriad interpretations.

Crafted with an awe-inspiring confidence, Upstream Color establishes a strange and frightening sci-fi framework, then works within that frame to probe the nature of human relationships, and our proximity to and power over the forces that define us. The wild elements of the plot allow Carruth to examine love and destiny with unexpected sensitivity. Upstream Color belongs in the company of 2001 and Solaris; it stands with the very best that speculative fiction has to offer.

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Shane Carruth‘s film Upstream Color is my favorite film of the year so far. The strange but tender love story is colored with surprising and unsettling sci-fi concepts, all told in a manner that perfectly straddles the line between direct and oblique.

A big part of the film’s success is the score, composed by Carruth. At times the music provides big swells of sound on which the narrative action can roll forward, and at others the compositions are more halting, to echo the evolution of some of the action on screen.

The full score is available now to stream, and also for pre-order on vinyl, which comes with a DRM-free digital download. The good news is that the track titles, which can be read in the streaming embed below, don’t give away anything about the plot. Those who’ve seen the film will know what they refer to, but for the great many people who haven’t yet had a chance to see the movie, the titles will be no more spoiler-laden than the trailers. Read More »

Any film fan should make it a point to attend the Sundance Film Festival at least once. Words can hardly describe the beauty of Park City, the camaraderie of the attendees, the smooth running machine that plays dozens of movies a day on screens all over town. And those movies. Oh, those movies. Some of the best films of the past 25 years have debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. The list has been well-documented and 2013 is likely to add at least a few to that incredible legacy.

At this year’s festival, I saw 34 movies. Not a staggering, superhuman number – remember I have to eat, sleep and write about these things – but a number to be proud of none the less. I saw comedies, dramas, foreign films, Hollywood films, sports films, happy films, sad films, black and white films, sex films, kids films. You name it; one of the movies I saw fits nearly any description you can muster.

I’ve picked my ten favorite films of the festival, with an asterisk. Though I saw 34 films, I missed probably 100 others, so this isn’t by any means definitive. But out of the movies that I thought looked interesting, or were buzzed about on the streets of Park City, these were the ten that I most enjoyed. Read More »

‘Upstream Color’ Video Reaction [Sundance 2013]

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 »

In just a few days we’ll get to see the premiere of Shane Carruth‘s new film, Upstream Color, at Sundance. It won’t be too long afterward that Carruth will distribute the film himself, staring in New York and rolling out to some other cities, and digital platforms. And he’s even got a new film, The Modern Ocean, planned to shoot this summer. A near-decade away from the film scene, and now the man is back in a big way.

To enhance your interest in Upstream Color, here’s the first full-length trailer, which offers slightly more clues to the story, but ultimately raises more questions. In truth I’m trying not to delve too deeply into this trailer, in favor of waiting for the full film. But the images here are enticing, and mysterious enough that I think they’ll make exactly the right audience even more interested in the movie. Read More »

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