One of Them There Fancy Art Movies

upstream-color-2-580A man and a woman struggle to assemble the fragments of their wrecked lives and ruined identities as they form a new relationship with each other in Shane Carruth’s delightfully paced Upstream Color.

You’re average indie film auteur likes to create a tone of building dread that sometimes escalates into full blown insanity. The dread and insanity in Upstream Color is how the story opens up, and then along the way it blossoms into a relationship between two people who have been through so much anguish, that the viewer can practically feel it.The pixilicious Amy Seimetz plays the female lead and Shane Carruth himself plays her apprehensive love interest. In addition to directing and playing the male lead, Carruth is also writer, cinematographer, editor, and produced a score that is well worth owning. The tangents offered up between start and finish add a sense of wonder and awe, and in the hands of an idiot could easily slip into self indulgent.

Perhaps just a little bit more was expected of Shane Carruth’s follow up to his mind warping sci-fi debut, 2004’s Primer. Perhaps a more interesting story would have been that of the drugs or the people behind the drugs that have shattered the lives of our main characters. What we’re asked to accept as a consolation prize is just short of magnificent. Upstream Color has a way of resonating as if the best is yet to come from Shane Carruth. He could very well have one of those moments in pop culture that just a few art house directors have managed to grasp.

Eight long years have passed since Primer, and it may have been worth the wait. I might just spend the rest of the summer watching this movie, or at least pondering my own version of it in my head.


From The Writer/Director of Bubba God Damn Ho-Tep


The loose description of John Dies at the End has two slackers stumbling across a bizarre street drug that may also be the beginning of an alien invasion, or something.

The movie does a pretty good job of capturing your attention, this can be both attributed to the basic concept of it’s material, and the fact that writer/director Don Coscarelli has had his moments throughout his career- Phantasm, The Beastmaster, and Bubba Ho-Tep.  No one would ever confuse Coscarelli with Paul Thomas Anderson, but with the right material he can at least entertain.

Unfortunately John Dies at the End has a bit more ambition than it knows what to do with, and although that makes it good for a smirk or two, it’s not really worthwhile beyond the moment you watch it in. It almost, just not quite, lives up to the bar set by the movies it loosely pays homage to- Buckaroo Banzai and Big Trouble in Little China. With both of those titles however, you get a complete story and are left wanting to experience a little bit more of those worlds. I think anyone would have gladly accepted a little bit less of the sparkly zig zags offered here, in lieu of an idea or two being followed to completion.

As it is, JDATE, as the kids are calling it, isn’t terrible,  I just can’t bring myself to say that it was good either.