Upstream Color (2013) Review

Upstream Color (2013)

Directed & Written & Produced by Shane Carruth

Starring: Amy Seimetz & Shane Carruth

Cinematography by Shane Carruth

Edited by Shane Carruth & David Lowery

Music by Shane Carruth

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives.

My Opinion:

Was glad to finally see this on Amazon Prime U.K. as I’ve been wanting to see it ever since I saw Shane Carruth’s other & even more confusing film Primer. Ah, Primer. I… think I liked Primer? I’m not going to pretend that I could at all follow along with the complex time travel involved but, hey, I like a smart film & apparently things were quite accurate in that film according to smart science-y people (or so I read). Gotta love a movie where you have to go online afterwards to try to figure it out. I found a complicated diagram online trying to explain it all (it’s in my Primer review I’ve linked if you want to see it).

So, onto Upstream Color. Again, it’s a bit weird and very “what the fuck is going on?”. I’d say it’s more strange than Primer since that was, really, just a time travel story even though it was complicated but I couldn’t quite figure out the meaning in Upstream Color (if there is one). What is this movie trying to tell us? What was up with the pigs?! What was the purpose of the pig farmer guy? Why was he doing that re-implanting (I’m trying to stay spoiler-free)? What was with the sound stuff he was doing? What was up with those flowers? What the hell was the point of any of this?!? Is this a circle of life type thing? This movie gave me vibes of what I’ve always assumed Terrence Malick’s The Tree Of Life movie is probably like (but I can’t say for sure since I never watched that since it sounds totally pretentious). But I probably will watch that someday since I’m always drawn to these sort of movies despite not being smart enough to understand them.

Well, I won’t ramble on forever talking about this movie since I have no explanations. There are okay articles you can find online if you want to go looking up “Upstream Color explained!” but what I read online didn’t help much either. To be honest, the people writing those articles didn’t seem to know what the point of the movie was either. Even what Shane Carruth himself has said about this movie doesn’t offer all that much insight. For example, this is something Carruth said that’s on Wikipedia under Themes & is spoiler-free (you can read a little more at the link if you want):

“In April 2013, io9.com asked director Shane Carruth if the film’s point regarded a return to nature. Carruth replied that the film explored breaking cycles:

It’s more about what those pigs are now embodying. I mean, there is a break of the cycle. These people that have been affected by this are now taking back ownership of the thing that they’re connected to…I don’t believe that narrative works when it’s trying to teach a lesson, or speak a factual truth. What it’s good for is, an exploration of something that’s commonplace and universal — maybe that’s where the truth comes from.”

Yeah… Okay…. Well, I liked this movie just fine as I do like weird films (Hello, Butt Boy & Rubber!). I think this is a smarter film than those, though, even if the explanations of it sound like a load of bollocks (I’ve put that word in here for Film Miasma). I do prefer Primer as that is shockingly now seeming like the much simpler film but I enjoyed the bizarre ride with this one. Especially the weird shit with the pigs! Amy Seimetz (from Pet Sematary and the director & writer of the equally weird She Dies Tomorrow) was good in the main role. And Shane Carruth seems very talented. He did everything with this movie! Directed, produced, wrote & starred in as well as doing the editing, cinematography & music. I’ve liked enough of what I’ve seen of his work so far to watch anything else he might make.

My Rating: 6.5/10

Primer (2004) Review

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Primer (2004)

Directed by Shane Carruth

Starring:
Shane Carruth
David Sullivan
Casey Gooden
Andand Upadhyaya

Running time: 77 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
Four friends/fledgling entrepreneurs, knowing that there’s something bigger and more innovative than the different error-checking devices they’ve built, wrestle over their new invention.

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My Opinion:

What. The. Hell. Seriously – if you’ve seen this movie & you’ve come here looking for answers, you’ve come to the wrong place! I’m far too stupid for this movie. Don’t get me wrong – I love movies that make you think. Believe me, I get bored with all the braindead Michael Bay blockbuster type shit that keeps being made but Primer just made my head hurt.

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First of all, anyone who reads my stuff often enough probably knows that I have a tendency to fall asleep anytime I try to watch a movie at home. Hey, I’m tired & old & have a young child – give me a break! I’ve never fallen asleep during a movie as many times as I did while trying to make it through Primer, though. Holy shit! I think it took me about seven separate attempts to finish it plus I had to keep rewinding the bit where they “time travel” (or whatever the hell it was that they did) for the first time & the one guy was explaining to the other guy how it works & I was trying to wrap my little brain around his explanation. That bit was complicated enough as it was but then they kept doing the time travel thing and trying to undo things and, I dunno, undo things undone and, like, try to stop someone being shot or something and make money off the stock market or some shit like that and double selves talked to past selves and past selves talked to double selves (is that right??) and they did all this while lying around in this time travel box thingy that they created in this one dude’s garage. And they talk & talk & talk about scientific gobbledegook the entire time. Blah blah blah. At least I found one of the main two guys (Shane Carruth – also the film’s writer & director) kind of sexy in that “really smart guy who wouldn’t talk to me because I’m a complete idiot compared to him” kind of way. I love smart dudes!

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Anyway, these two engineer dudes create this time travel box by accident while working on some other confusing scientific thing. This is one of those movies where, unless you’re Einstein, you have to go reading about it online afterwards. Normally I enjoy having to do this but I couldn’t be bothered this time. The first place I go if I want to refresh my memory before I do a movie review is Wikipedia just to read the full plot summary (here’s the one for Primer). Hahaha! Well, I can’t even make it through that without getting confused all over again so I gave up on reading anything further about this film. And this is the first time I’ve seen Wikipedia include diagrams to help explain a movie. I’m going to include the one that explains how the time travel works in Primer. I don’t consider this a SPOILER but I’m putting a little warning here just in case you want to watch this movie without knowing anything beforehand. I think seeing this diagram first may help, though – I wish I’d actually seen it before watching the movie. If you like the look of this diagram & if it actually makes sense to you, please watch the film so you can explain it to me. 😉

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Link to the diagram on Wikipedia

Oh, that’s the simple one. Here’s a chart that apparently explains the whole movie (link HERE to be able to view it properly. I got it from THIS article, which gives a fairly simple overview to help you understand Primer. But I still don’t!):

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Summary:

From what I could gather, Primer is about time travel. It was directed by, written by, produced by, edited by, scored by, and starring Shane Carruth, who is clearly some sort of can-do-it-all genius. He also managed to make this on an extremely low budget and, although it seems low budget in some ways, it’s also pretty damn good for the small amount of money Carruth had to work with. It has lots and lots of technical mumbo jumbo that went way over my head but, from the tiny bit I’ve read online, it’s all accurate scientific stuff so boy genius Carruth obviously knows his stuff. I’d maybe hate him for being so perfect if he wasn’t so cute and if I didn’t find guys with big brains a total turn on. I’m never watching another movie of his again, though. Screw Upstream Color – I’ll stick with things like Back To The Future. I can follow that. Oh look – it’s now Lone Pine Mall! Haha! I get stuff like that! Plus a DeLorean is way cooler than a stupid box.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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YES! The smart dudes in Primer use a Weeble in their first time travel experiment (well, they don’t know the Weeble is time travelling at first but figure it out because some sort of shit accumulates on it. Or… something. No idea). Anyway! Weebles were awesome. It gave me very fond memories of the two cool Weebles sets I had as a kid (the circus and the haunted house).

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I really wanted to know which Weeble was used in Primer. From the movie photo above, I’d say it looks like the boy in the circus set:

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It was quite a while ago that I watched Primer so I can’t remember if they used more than one Weeble in their experiments. Maybe. Yes, I spent longer researching Weebles than I did researching an explanation of the movie. This is how my brain works. But I had a lot more fun reminiscing about Weebles than I did watching Primer! 😉

By the way – I think these UK Weebles looked really weird compared to the American ones I grew up with:

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**Feel free to try to discuss Primer with me in the Comments but I’ll be just as happy (happier) if you want to discuss Weebles and any other retro toys instead** 🙂