Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

"New Jerusalem": A Study in Grime 

Wednesday, Dec 19 2012
Comments

Rick Alverson's New Jerusalem (which he made before The Comedy) had its North American premiere at South by Southwest, and it many ways, it fulfills the stereotype of the festival film: low-budget, contemplative, semi-improvised, and challenging to viewers who don't like having to fill in the blanks. While New Jerusalem's rigid formalism will surely be off-putting to some, there's beauty to be found in the film's sheen of placid grime. The nominal narrative tells of tire-shop employee Ike (Will Oldham, also known as Bonnie "Prince" Billy), an evangelical Christian hoping to save the soul of his co-worker Sean (Colm O'Leary), an Irishman quietly troubled by his recent National Guard service in Afghanistan. Shot in Richmond, Va., the film is also a study of textures, with many lingering shots of shadows, reflections, heat distortions, and especially the greasy, masculine milieu of the tire shop and its constant rumble of traffic. Oldham and O'Leary's characters remain ciphers, often on the verge of revealing who they truly are but never quite getting there, not even when O'Leary seems to be breaking out of his shell toward the end — indeed, Alverson ends New Jerusalem just as the third act seems to be beginning. He offers no revelations, and you're on your own.

About The Author

Sherilyn Connelly

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Slideshows

  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"