On the Fringe of Genre – A Film Review of ‘Upstream Color’

Upstream Color_poster

Thoughtful filmmakers intent on making engaging experimental films in today’s cinematic climate are fearless. Only a handful of filmmakers, able to uncover the balance between formal abstraction and narrative fluff, succeed in making films that are a cut above the rest. Harmony Korine of course rules this utopia, as does David Lynch, Michel Gondry and to a certain extent Terrance Malick, with his rapturous depiction of regeneration. Hopefully, Shane Carruth, the writer, director and star, of his second film Upstream Color, will become the newest, most promising member of this crew.

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May 16, 2013 / By

Nathan Oldfield’s ‘The Heart and the Sea’

'The Heart and the Sea' directed by Nathan Oldfield

I am not a surfer but have always loved the sport. I remember watching and discussing movies like North Shore, Surf Ninjas, The Endless Summer, and Point Break with my fellow desert landlocked friends who pretended skateboards on cement were surfboards on waves. And I remember how exciting it was seeing girl surfers represented in films like Gidget and later Blue Crush. But aside from the plethora of documentaries like Step into Liquid and Riding Giants, I never realized just how many surf films were being made by independent filmmakers, enthusiasts, and devotees of the sport. Nathan Oldfield is one such filmmaker, and his cinematic vision of surfing and the lifestyle surrounding it is remarkable.

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May 6, 2013 / By

‘The Build’, an interactive film featuring motorcycle builders

'The Build', an interactive film featuring motorcycle builders

'The Build', an interactive film featuring motorcycle builders

The fine folks at Instrument, hands down one of the best digital creative agencies, have released a new experimental projects which pairs a short film with contemporary web technologies. Titled The Build, the film follows the lives of three motorcycle builders – Casey, Thor, and James – as they discuss their lives and passions.

'The Build', an interactive film featuring motorcycle builders

This film is everything I truly love about Portland. First, it’s about makers, people who really do get their hands dirty and are passionate about what they build. Truen Pence, Instrument’s resident filmmaker, does an incredible job of capturing each of these guys as they ride around town or in the woods of Oregon. And from tech side it’s great that Instrument is pushing HTML5 video and WebGL to do some interesting projects. It makes me excited for the possibilities of film on the web and how the two could mesh together even more to create some truly unique experiences (see also: Carly’s Cafe which Andi wrote about).

You can watch The Build by clicking here.

April 19, 2013 / By

Carly’s Cafe: An Autism Film Experience

Carly's Cafe

Carly's Cafe

“Everyone has an inner voice. I found a way to let mine out.” These are the words of Carly Fleischmann, a young woman living with autism. Though unable to speak, she found a way to communicate through typing on a computer. Even though autism is typically an affliction that keeps a person locked within themselves, Carly’s breakthrough has been hailed as something of a miracle. Most people tend not to understand what someone like Carly is  going through, but the film Carly’s Cafe is meant to change all that. We spoke to director Miles Jay to find out more about this remarkable interactive film, which was recently nominated for a Webby.

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April 19, 2013 / By

Listen to the soundtrack for ‘Upstream Color’, composed by Shane Carruth

Upstream Color Soundtrack; Composed by Shane Carruth

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of great things about Upstream Color, a film that was written, directed, produced, stars, edited, and scored by Shane Caruth. I swear I’m not making any of that up. I purposely don’t know much about it, but I was able to find this interesting short description.

“A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.”

I’m a sucker for dramatic situations set in sci-fi-esque worlds and this is definitely up my alley. While I don’t want to know more about the plot, I did dabble in the films score. A mentioned earlier Caruth also created all the music for the film, which when you listen to it that seems quite impressive. I’m no expert on film scores, but this sounds like something that can stand toe-to-toe with anything Hans Zimmer has done recently.

The music has eerie, mechanical tones interlaced with deep resonating cellos. It’s both familiar with and undercurrent that’s alien and machine-like. It reminds me a bit of Takagi Masakatsu’s music, only with a more orchestral root to it. If you’re into soundtracks I think this is certainly one not to miss.

April 16, 2013 / By

Film Art: The posters of Akiko Stehrenberger

Funny Games a film by Akiko Stehrenberger

Before any discussion of the poster for Funny Games ensues, I must emphasize that the German turned American film, by Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke, is without a doubt a terrifying, horror movie. Funny Games is grotesque, actually, with very sinister undertones and a fair bit of gore. In designing a poster for this film, L.A. based creative Akiko Stehrenberger, made a definitive choice. Rather than funnel perception of the film toward a bloody and bone chilling horror mess, Stehrenberger focused the branding toward a clean and minimal approach, one that is rarely seen within the horror genre.

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April 4, 2013 / By