Ben Umstead
East Coast Editor; Los Angeles, California

Born in New England, bred around the Capital Beltway, and schooled in the heart of Hollywood, Ben joined Team Twitch in the summer of 2009 when he moved to NYC. He can once again be found wandering the streets of Los Angeles.

Sundance 2014 Review: Farsi Vampire Western A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT Barely Gets By On Novelty

Yes. You read that right. A vampire western with a Farsi speaking cast. It's moody, and steely, and chock full of Lynchian atmosphere broadened by a Leone-esque scope. It's also in black and white and widescreen. If this doesn't sound... More »
  

Sundance 2014 Review: THE DISOBEDIENT Is A Marvelously Absurdist Abstraction Of Young Adulthood

About half way into Serbian director Mina Djukic's feature debut, our heroes, Leni and Lazar (childhood loves reunited) get caught in a rather curious rain shower. As if by magic conjured by the cinematic gods themselves, the sunny summer fields... More »
  

Slamdance 2014 Award Winners

And so it goes... Thursday evening saw the 20th Slamdance Film Festival come to a close with a festive awards ceremony, which included many original and long time Slamdance contributors sharing advice and support, as well as plenty of Sparky... More »
  

Sundance 2014 Review: MEMPHIS Is A Truly Mesmerizing Meditation On The American South

Dusk. A blue summer day ending on a worn and warm boulevard. The pin prick glow of street lamps dazzle in the distance. A figure lumbers down the block. A hat tipped to one side, he is lost in thought.... More »
  

Sundance 2014 Review: In THE SKELETON TWINS Bill Hader Elevates An Otherwise Pedestrian American Dramedy

I've been here before. This all looks quite familiar. It's not quite deja vu though. The window dressing is different. They've swapped a cute dog for goldfish. I think that's a new couch. But that's the same ottoman.Craig Johnson's The... More »
  

Sundance 2014 Review: LISTEN UP PHILIP Asks For Sympathy For The Asshole

A few years back Alex Ross Perry caught the eye of many in the American independent scene with his second feature, the delightfully awful (or is that awfully delightful?) The Color Wheel. A sibling road tripper with the penchant for... More »
  

Sundance 2014 Review: BOYHOOD Is An Extraordinary Chronicle Of Growing Up In America

12 years off and on in production, and clearly in the works for a lot longer, Richard Linklater's latest is a rare cinematic feat for reasons that go quite beyond its already unorthodox shooting schedule. Call it "This American Boy's... More »
  

Sundance 2014 Review: WAR STORY, A Devastating Study Of Conflict, From Within

Mark Jackson did not so much as burst forth onto the independent film scene in 2011 with his brilliant first feature Without. Rather he made a careful set of imprints and impressions, distinct and measured, over the entire year on... More »
  

Slamdance 2014 Review: SOMETIMES I DREAM I'M FLYING Considers The Form Of Ballet With Grace

I recently told a friend that one of my dreams was to see The Rite Of Spring performed as full-on a ballet. I said that really just thinking of Stravinsky's music -- as most of us probably do -- and... More »
  

Slamdance 2014 News: Christopher Nolan Recieves The Founder's Award

Park City, Utah -- Saturday night. There was something in the air. The crowd of filmmakers, programmers and press that had gathered in the main screening room of the Treasure Mountain Inn knew it. The air just... crackled. And then...... More »
  

Slamdance 2014 Review: LOVE STEAKS Is Bold, Brash And Beautifully Ugly

A flash in the pan. Hands on a middle aged body. Scented oils. Grease. Steaks sizzling. Hips. Thighs. Raw meat. Chakras. Auras. A slab of frozen lamb. The fizz-boom-fizz of industrial music kicking our ears in. The images keep pummeling... More »
  

Slamdance 2014 Review: ELLIOT Will Make You Believe In Canada's First Action Hero

Yes. You read that right. Canada's first action hero. China has Jackie Chan and Jet Li. America has Arnold and Sly. Europe has Jean-Claude Van Damme. And if Elliot Scott has his way, Canada will have... Elliot "White Lightning" Scott.... More »
  

Slamdance 2014 Review: COPENHAGEN, A Heartfelt Ode To The City, To Sorrow, And To Change

William is a twenty-something American traveling in Europe. Except he's Canadian 'cause "that's still a thing right?" He's obnoxious, rude, a veritable asshole, putting anything he's got left (a potent mix of self-loathing, male ego and hormones) into drinking and... More »
  

Slamdance 2014 Review: LITTLE HOPE WAS ARSON Finds Forgivness In Darkness Alight

I've never been one to articulate very well my stance on documentaries as a storytelling medium. Ironic perhaps given my standing here at Twitch, but I can count on own my two hands the number of docs I've reviewed (though... More »
  

Rebels With A Cause: Looking Back On Slamdance's First 20 Years

Salt Lake City, Utah -- 1995. A group of young filmmakers don't get their features into Sundance. That's the line we've heard countless times before. Rejection, dejection, deflation... where's a guiding light? Where to go? So much hard work after... More »
  

Sundance 2014 Review: LILTING Gets Lost In Translation

A quiet room, muted colors, old wallpaper from a bygone era. A hushed winter light drapes itself across the space. An elderly mother looks at her adult son and asks, "What's wrong?" The son insists nothing is, and he'd like... More »
  

Review: COMMUNITY S5EP04, "Cooperative Polygraphy", A Fitting Farewell To Pierce Sans Pierce

At the end of last week's episode the ol' study group found out former member Pierce Hawthorne had passed away. It came after a moody, Zodiac style procedural, and I thus wrote: " While the reveal of Pierce's death at... More »
  

Sundance 2014: Twitch Raises The Curtain With 13 Must-Sees

Oh boy! It's Sundance time with the big winter fest kicking off today! The Twitch staff is primed and ready with our own head honcho Todd Brown making it out to Park City for the first time in too many... More »
  

Slamdance 2014 Preview

20 years in and Slamdance is still considered the upstart in Park City. A veteran with the spunk of youth then, the fest has become one of the premiere places to scope out first time directors and truly low-budget independents.... More »
  

Review: COMMUNITY S5EP03, "Basic Intergluteal Numismatics" Gets Cheeky With A Fincher-esque Procedural

Back in the day, say late 2007 or early 2008, movie audiences, critics and those people that give out awards were talking about two particular American films that had struck accord at the cinema: There Will Be Blood and No... More »
  
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