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The Builder and New Jerusalem

Two films from musician-slash-filmmaker Rick Alverson consider present-day American disquiet

by Doug Black in Culture on 07 July 2010


An emerging filmmaker from Richmond, Virginia, Rick Alverson's slowburning film style feeds off lingering frames, pregnant pauses and subtle interactions between its characters. His debut feature "The Builder" (due for release by indie label Jagjaguwar later this month) has a spacious, meditative style that will resonate with fan's of Kelly Reichardt (Old Joy, Wendy and Lucy) and the natural feel of the dialogue in Cassavetes films. Billed as an "American existential portrait that explores the gulf between the idea of a thing and the thing itself," it's a contemplative and studied look at an Irish immigrant carpenter (Colm O'Leary) who set out to construct a house in upstate New York.

With a subdued score and soundtrack featuring Bon Iver, Gregor Samsa and Alverson's own band, Spokane, the film screens tonight (7 July 2010) at Zebulon in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

And on the heels of "The Builder" comes Alverson's newest film, "New Jerusalem," which he's currently shopping around to festivals. It also employs O'Leary's quietly emotive acting skills, this time as a returning Afghanistan vet who befriends an evangelical Christian played by Will Oldham (Bonnie "Prince" Billy). Take a look at the recently-released trailer above, and pre-order "The Builder" from Jagjaguwar.


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