By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist January 31, 2011 at 3:37AM
We're at an interesting tipping point in contemporary independent American cinema, one where directors are starting to take the aesthetics and low-key character drama of the mumblecore scene, and marrying them with genre film, and it's producing some of the more original, innovative low-budget works in recent years. From The Duplass Brother's slasher pic "Baghead" and Gareth Edwards' creature flick "Monsters" to Brit Marling's Sundance one-two-punch of "Another Earth" and "The Sound of My Voice," it's a good time for anyone with an interest in the way that genre can be played with onscreen, and one of the best examples to date is Aaron Katz's "Cold Weather."
Katz has long been associated with the mumblecore scene after his first two pictures "Dance Party USA" and "Quiet City," but he's always had a keener visual sense, and more ambition, than some of his contemporaries, and he's turned to the detective genre for inspiration for "Cold Weather," which follows a forensic science drop-out (Cris Lankenau), who's moved in with his sister (Trieste Kelly Dunn) in Portland, taking a job at an ice factory. But when his ex-girlfriend goes missing, he employs the detective skills he's developed from years of reading Sherlock Holmes to attempt to track her down.
When various Playlisters caught the film on the festival circuit last year, we generally agreed it marked a giant leap forward for Katz, one of our more promising young filmmakers; while the premise is superficially similar to Rian Johnson's "Brick," the final product is very different, a more organic twist on film noir that nevertheless manages to expertly meld an affecting drama with a genuinely gripping detective story, with wit and flair. The Red-enabled cinematography is some of the best we've yet seen on the format, there's a marvelous score from Keegan DeWitt, and the performances are uniformly excellent.
Ahead of its release this week, we have a new trailer for the film, and it gives those of you unfamiliar with the film a pretty good idea of what to expect: it's a very well cut clip, and should entice pretty much anyone with a love for independent cinema or the noir genre. We're excited to see the next stage in Katz's career (he told us last year that he's working on a '80s-set werewolf action comedy next, as well as a number of other scripts), and we're sure that we once you catch "Cold Weather," which hits theaters and video-on-demand via IFC/Sundance Selects from Friday, February 4th, you will too. Watch the trailer below, or head over to Apple for the HD version.