“The Builder carves a unique, welcome mental space.”
— David Gordon Green
Jagjaguwar is extremely honored to present as its first-ever feature film release the debut film by writer/director R. Alverson. The Builder (released July 27 on DVD) is bold in its subtleties, and finds Alverson trekking beyond the emotional and existential territories of his work in Jagjaguwar band Spokane. Here, he establishes a cinematic voice that is timeless, yet desperately needed in the stylization and snark of our time. While the movie deals with escapism by way of a character’s self-made isolation, it serves us, its viewers, as a retreat from cinematic escapism, a rare opportunity to look good and deep at disillusionment and disappointment, accepting “the real” over redemption.
Following an Irish immigrant carpenter from coastal Queens to the Catskills and beyond, The Builder is an American existential portrait that explores the gulf between the idea of a thing and the thing itself. Having set off to the New York countryside to construct a reproduction of the earliest of American cape houses, the protagonist (Colm O’Leary) finds himself overcome by an inexplicable fatigue. Debts and expectations mount alongside the crudest and most naive of deceptions, that of both self and family. As the chasm grows the Builder finds himself confronted by the unnerving ambivalence of the world around him. It’s a subtle, contemplative rendering reminiscent of the films of John Cassavetes and The Dardenne Brothers. It features music by Bon Iver, Gregor Samsa, Pan American, Robert Donne and Spokane. Alverson’s second feature, New Jerusalem, starring Will Oldham (Bonnie “Prince” Billy) andThe Builder‘s Colm O’Leary, is now complete and being submitted to festivals.
As a companion to the feature, we will be offering a series of songs, Music For The Builder, on the Jagjaguwar website. This “foundtrack” features new, unreleased and demoed songs from artists like Califone, Luke Temple and Sam Amidon. Amidon offers the first in the series (more to be made available regularly up to the release of the film) with “Cabin in the Corner,” a faithful rendition of an Irish traditional that features the brother of The Builder‘s Colm O’Leary, Eamon, on bozouki and backing vocals. The song’s lyrics — “Don’t care for fine mansions in the earth’s sinking sand/Lord, build me a cabin in the corner of Glory Land” — might serve as a jumping off point for the movie itself.
A series of special theatrical screenings of The Builder surrounding the release of the film are in the works. An announcement is coming soon.