I just want to bask in the glow of that episode of Mad Men for the indefinite future.

Let’s just say that the noises I was making throughout, but especially when Peggy goes in to see Ted and BOOM, there’s Don, lurking, were… unbecoming.

(Also can we talk about how Peggy actually may have THE WORST TASTE IN MEN of any character? Like, ever? WHAT ARE YOU DOING. WHAT ARE YOU DOOOOINGGGGG. Do not make out with your boss, Peggy! Unless the boss in question is Don in which case GO FOR IT. This can only end in tears!)

(Also also: ROGER CARRIES COPIES OF HIS AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN HIS CARRY-ON BAG. SOMEBODY COME HELP ME, I’VE FALLEN AND I CAN’T GET UPPPPPP)


The real genius of Upstream Color is that it is filmed in such a way that enhances this feeling of powerlessness, of radical presence. It is a film of immense beauty and little dialogue; it is a film that moves elliptically amongst its subjects and characters in ways that may not make perfect sense to our rational, thinking brains but that exerts a kind of terrifying pull on our unconscious psychologies. To watch Upstream Color is to subject yourself, as a viewer, to an experience you cannot control but that will impact you in ways you cannot possibly predict when you sit down in the theater. Like Kris, the audience member experiences something both psychological and, somehow, physical; most importantly, the experience is entirely out of the viewer’s control.

Read more: The Radical Present of Shane Carruth’s “Upstream Color”
I promise this is the last time I will post a link to this piece, but I wanted to remind everybody who hasn’t gotten a chance to see it yet to check the full release schedule: it’s opening in loads more cities today! GO SEE THIS MOVIE, and then you can read this (or, uh, not, as you so choose).

The real genius of Upstream Color is that it is filmed in such a way that enhances this feeling of powerlessness, of radical presence. It is a film of immense beauty and little dialogue; it is a film that moves elliptically amongst its subjects and characters in ways that may not make perfect sense to our rational, thinking brains but that exerts a kind of terrifying pull on our unconscious psychologies. To watch Upstream Color is to subject yourself, as a viewer, to an experience you cannot control but that will impact you in ways you cannot possibly predict when you sit down in the theater. Like Kris, the audience member experiences something both psychological and, somehow, physical; most importantly, the experience is entirely out of the viewer’s control.

Read more: The Radical Present of Shane Carruth’s “Upstream Color”

I promise this is the last time I will post a link to this piece, but I wanted to remind everybody who hasn’t gotten a chance to see it yet to check the full release schedule: it’s opening in loads more cities today! GO SEE THIS MOVIE, and then you can read this (or, uh, not, as you so choose).


Carruth and Seimetz look enough alike, and Carruth’s camera spends enough time lingering close to each of their faces, that it would be difficult not to notice the similarity in their appearances. This, taken in conjunction with the similarity of their past experiences - which rewrote their psyches - and their progressive isolation from the the rest of the world, suggests that their are living out a kind of fated destiny, although their initial encounter was the result of chance. But instead of playing out patterns of a Freudian unconscious, the two of them are bound to something more recent and more literal.

Read more: The Radical Present of Shane Carruth’s “Upstream Color”
Bringing this back since Upstream Color is now playing in many more cities! The full release schedule is here. Once again: you probably should not read this until you have seen the movie.

Carruth and Seimetz look enough alike, and Carruth’s camera spends enough time lingering close to each of their faces, that it would be difficult not to notice the similarity in their appearances. This, taken in conjunction with the similarity of their past experiences - which rewrote their psyches - and their progressive isolation from the the rest of the world, suggests that their are living out a kind of fated destiny, although their initial encounter was the result of chance. But instead of playing out patterns of a Freudian unconscious, the two of them are bound to something more recent and more literal.

Read more: The Radical Present of Shane Carruth’s “Upstream Color”

Bringing this back since Upstream Color is now playing in many more cities! The full release schedule is here. Once again: you probably should not read this until you have seen the movie.


Upstream Color is concerned with an almost radical presentness. In the first act, we watch as one of the film’s two main characters is systematically broken down, her identity erased and the entire context of her life scraped away, replaced by nothing but the now. The person Kris (Amy Seimetz) was before this violation does not matter to the movie, and soon does not matter even to Kris herself: all that matters is the trauma, an experience that she cannot remember but that we, the audience, have witnessed in full. This trauma is both psychological and excruciatingly, grotesquely physical: no part of her is left unscathed. She is thus reborn, in the middle of her adult life, as a nobody: savings gone, job gone, relationships gone, body compromised, she must find a way to live that somehow attains meaning in the absence of context.

Read more: The Radical Present of Shane Carruth’s “Upstream Color”
Once again: warning for spoilers! See the movie before reading this! Seriously. It’s out in New York now; here’s the full release schedule.

Upstream Color is concerned with an almost radical presentness. In the first act, we watch as one of the film’s two main characters is systematically broken down, her identity erased and the entire context of her life scraped away, replaced by nothing but the now. The person Kris (Amy Seimetz) was before this violation does not matter to the movie, and soon does not matter even to Kris herself: all that matters is the trauma, an experience that she cannot remember but that we, the audience, have witnessed in full. This trauma is both psychological and excruciatingly, grotesquely physical: no part of her is left unscathed. She is thus reborn, in the middle of her adult life, as a nobody: savings gone, job gone, relationships gone, body compromised, she must find a way to live that somehow attains meaning in the absence of context.

Read more: The Radical Present of Shane Carruth’s “Upstream Color”

Once again: warning for spoilers! See the movie before reading this! Seriously. It’s out in New York now; here’s the full release schedule.

Whether or not Gordon and Gansa planned this season more rigorously than they did the preceding one, Brody’s material this episode feels worryingly tossed off and, frankly, nonsensical. While Abu Nazir and company certainly have the leverage on Brody to make him do whatever they want, it seems to me that there is simply no rational reason to send him out to collect the man who made his suicide vest to transport him to their safe house. Brody is an incredibly recognizable figure – presumably, by this point, a household face and name – and is liable to be identified and held up anywhere. Even if the plan had gone off without a hitch, they would still then run the risk that random civilians would remember seeing him around town on the date in question if questioned by the authorities. And it doesn’t behoove them to mess up their top guy’s standing in the political community by keeping him away from a significant event like Jess’ fundraising dinner.

Once the writers had gotten Brody out there, they further muddled matters by throwing in a flat tire, a runaway prisoner, and a conveniently bad fall. There are always a lot of coincidences in a show like this, but they should be dispensed sparingly and then elided whenever possible – as when the likelihood of Carrie stumbling upon Brody’s confession was simply not mentioned – and not piled on in such an obvious fashion. It becomes incredibly easy for the audience to see what the writers are doing in situations like this, when ideally the audience hardly thinks about the writers as conscious decision-makers at all. And once the writers have been evoked in this way, it’s easy – and natural – for the audience to wonder whether they have any idea what they’re doing with this character at all. I suspect the problem facing the writers is that they know exactly what is happening in Brody’s mind and have no idea how to dramatize it in a way that is interesting and cinematic. They are stalling with his character – like Carrie, just treading water until they can hook him onto a narrative arc that is propulsive as well as connected to both the rest of the show and his own psychological state. I hope they will manage this with the fallout of Carrie and Saul’s discovery.