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Dogstoyevsky
Oct 9, 2012


Searched the first five pages, saw nothing, started a thread--

Many of you have probably seen Primer, a breakout film released by Shane Carruth in 2004 shot on a meagre $7,000 USD. It's a movie about time travel, kind of, or maybe more accurately: it's a movie about how science moves faster than ethics. It has an uncompromising faith in its audience's ability to figure it all out and it is quite beautifully shot; consequently, I love it.

Carruth is set to release his second film, Upstream Color on April 5. Allegedly it blew up Sundance--

Mark Olsen, LA Times posted:

For a time, Upstream Color was trending higher on Twitter than Sundance itself.

--despite this, I haven't seen a whole lot of coherent discussion of what, exactly, the film is about. Here's the IMDB synopsis--

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.

Sam Adams at the AV Club describes the plot thusly--

The easiest place to start with Upstream Color is, naturally, in the middle, when Amy Seimetz’s former visual effects supervisor—or maybe she’s in advertising, or something else that involves reviewing stop-motion footage and giving notes to animators—meets Carruth’s disgraced broker. She’s a (probably) recent victim of a scam in which she ingested a parasitic worm that made her susceptible to hypnotic suggestion; he’s a recovering drug addict who stole from his brokerage’s clients and has been kept as an off-the-books employee. How they understand each other, the way they come to terms with their own and each others' pasts, sorting through life events they don't remember or can't understand, is the heart of Upstream Color. Or at least I think it is.

It's drawn a lot of comparison to Malick's The Tree of Life

Theatrical trailer here.

Has anyone seen this yet? I'm sure the film will warrant a lot of discussion. I'm going to an early screening tonight, which I'm super excited about, so I'd be interested in seeing anyone else's impressions when I get back.

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Cpt. Spring Types
Feb 19, 2004

Wait, what?

Very much looking forward to this. Primer was far too long ago, and I've been itching for some new Carruth action since then. Upstream Color sounds completely fascinating from what vague descriptions have been put out. If it's drawing comparisons to Tree of Life, I can't imagine I won't be at least a little bit blown away by it. That's my kind of movie.

Yoshifan823
Feb 19, 2007

I'm very poor. Having a checking account would be an honor. I've written a zombie book. It's terrible. I'm a slow runner. I'm obsessed with karate.


If I didn't have a wedding to go to the weekend this movie premieres in Chicago (with a Q&A with Carruth afterword!), I'd be in line faster than you can describe the plot of this movie (which gives me plenty of time).

typhus
Apr 7, 2004

gators gonna gate

I just caught this at a screening in Seattle tonight, with Carruth in attendance for a Q&A. loving fabulous movie. Totally worth checking out, and the Tree of Life comparisons are definitely apt.

Medium Cool
Dec 27, 2006

Yr sister is a beauty when she's naked


Wow, I jsut watched Primer not that long ago and was hoping to see this guy make another movie. That trailer looks amazing, I can't wait to see this in april. Is this actually getting a wide release though or will I have to make a road trip?

Dogstoyevsky
Oct 9, 2012


typhus posted:

I just caught this at a screening in Seattle tonight, with Carruth in attendance for a Q&A. loving fabulous movie. Totally worth checking out, and the Tree of Life comparisons are definitely apt.

We were at the same screening. It was, indeed, phenomenal, and I've been thinking about it a lot. OK, background--

The descriptions in the first post aren't too far off, really. The movie is based on characters involved in a parasitic lifecycle. The parasite itself is a worm, and it interacts with human hosts as part of its reproductive cycle. It physically infects these hosts and makes them susceptible to a sort of hypnotic suggestion.

On top of this, the cycle has human "helpers" who seem to aid in its propagation without (overtly, though it isn't clear) being infected directly. They do this because they receive certain benefits from the parasite's infecting others. These are (Shane's terms)--

1) The "thief," who infects people and uses the hypnotic properties of the worm to scam the infected out of money.
2) The "sampler," who removes the parasite and transplants it into pigs. The pigs remain psychically linked to the former host in some way, and the sampler appears to be able to sort of skim or hijack the emotions of the human hosts. The sampler also appears to play a key role in the worm reproduction, as when the pigs conceive a litter, he drowns it. The infected litter drifts into orchid trees, where the worms emerge and are collected by--
3) The "orchid mother/daughter" who collect the flowers and turn them over to the thief. Their motivation for participating in the life cycle is least clear.


Short plot summary, as best I remember it (please correct me if I'm wrong, I forgot to take notes)--

A young woman (Kris) working in some sort of film editing department is knocked out and infected by the Thief. He takes her to her apartment, and in a really dreamy and creepy sequence, proceeds to use the aforementioned hypnotic suggestion to clean her out by having her take out a number of what looks like home equity loans. As a result of her failure to show up at work for a few days, she loses her job. Her affect has become notably detached.

I think after this she's drawn to the Sampler by a low-frequency sound played into the ground. He removes her worm and transplants it into a pig, which he tags "Kris."

While taking public transit she meets a similarly flat man (Jeff) and they begin spending a lot of time together. They sleep together, and in these scenes, we see scars on Jeff that imply he too has been parasitized.

It is revealed that Jeff was a broker stealing from his firm (presumably due to the Thief's influence); he was released but retained off the books. His interactions with Kris are confusing, and their supposed memories bleed into one another. They have difficulty determining whose past is whose.

Their linked pigs also mate, and Kris's is impregnated. The Sampler takes the litter and drowns it, propagating the worm life cycle. Because Kris and Jeff are linked psychically to their pigs, this is tremendously distressing to them--Kris panics, Jeff attacks his co-workers. They gradually discover the link between low-frequency music and the farm, and somehow use it to block the Sampler's ability to project himself into their consciousness. In doing so, Kris is able to ambush him with a handgun (revealed in the first act in my favorite use of Chekov's gun in some time!) and kill him. The Orchid Mother/Daughter collect wilting flowers, indicating that the life cycle has been broken. Kris and Jeff bring other Samples/Hosts to the farm.


I'll write a little bit more about what Carruth said in the Q&A in a subsequent post, but typhus can probably chip in also.

E: I also want to say, I've been reading through some of the reactions to the film and they're almost uniformly along the lines of "I didn't really get this movie." I'm not sure what people mean by that. It's not as much of a puzzle to be solved as Primer was with its overlapping timelines. What the film says is maybe harder to nail down, but at no point did I feel lost in the plot.

Dogstoyevsky fucked around with this message at Mar 15, 2013 around 23:50

Dogstoyevsky
Oct 9, 2012


Some highlights from Carruth's Q&A--

The inspiration for the movie comes from political discussions that Carruth has had with his family. He describes himself as more liberal than some of his relatives. They are all consuming different media and have had different life experiences, and he mentioned the frustration he has in talking to these relatives, that they're always kind of talking past one another. He began to envision people who had become unmoored from their life experience, and how that might influence their ability to navigate their world and deal with one another.

Thoreau's Walden appears several times in the film. A rather astute audience member mentioned something like: "Thoreau, to me, is about living your life with intention." Carruth noted that it wasn't actually his conscious intent to connect characters who are lost with a book in which life is lived deliberately, with purpose. Rather, he chose a book he remembered from high school as being insanely boring--since the first occurrence of the book is during that initial hypnotic scene with the Thief, he wanted a work that Kris would be forced to copy from and the boredom of it would help to keep her under. It was only later that he realized it could be thematically interpreted into the movie as well.

A recurring thematic element is Kris and Jeff exploring the world with their hands, their fingertips, reflecting their desensitization by the parasite. I largely missed this, because I am not a real film critic.

Carruth wanted to include more backstory on the parasite lifecycle and the people that assist in it, but he (wisely, in my opinion) dropped it to focus on the hosts.


My own reading of the film while I was watching it follows. I think it's maybe off-base, but it's where my head was at before the Q&A--

The film inarguably contains a lot of depiction of people who have difficulty coming to terms with themselves after their experience has been removed from them. It rather pointedly takes on peoples' ability to modify their own memories, incorporating other stories into them or embellishing after the fact.

But my attention was drawn to the reproductive themes that parallel one another--the parasite's cycle and how it interacts with Kris and Jeff's "conception." The parasite is an organism dependent on its hosts and it has the singular property of changing its hosts' behavior profoundly. Kris and Jeff essentially conceive, have their child taken from them, and then seek revenge. In that sense, I viewed it as a meditation on having children, and the ways in which that changes you. Viewed against the backdrop of Primer, a movie that follows a bunch of guys working in their garage, trying to use time travel to get rich or be heroes--it made me wonder if Carruth had kids between the two films or something. It feels like a much more grown-up, emotional film in general.

Dogstoyevsky fucked around with this message at Mar 15, 2013 around 21:58

MANIFEST DESTINY
Apr 24, 2009

Well, there was this
movie I seen one time.

Psyched for this, its sounds more ambitious than Primer, which is saying a lot.

BuckarooBanzai
Dec 2, 2004
Wherever you go, there you are.

Heads up: there's a screening of this coming up at the IFC Center in NYC 4/4-4/11 with Carruth going to be in attendance.

Hollismason
Jun 30, 2007


Does anyone have a news site that lists where this is playing next? I am in Chicago and would love to seee.

MANIFEST DESTINY
Apr 24, 2009

Well, there was this
movie I seen one time.

BuckarooBanzai posted:

Heads up: there's a screening of this coming up at the IFC Center in NYC 4/4-4/11 with Carruth going to be in attendance.

Thanks for the heads up, getting my tickets now.

Cpt. Spring Types
Feb 19, 2004

Wait, what?

Hollis posted:

Does anyone have a news site that lists where this is playing next? I am in Chicago and would love to seee.

The Upstream Color website has a list of screenings at the bottom of the page.

Officer Sandvich
Feb 14, 2010


typhus posted:

I just caught this at a screening in Seattle tonight, with Carruth in attendance for a Q&A. loving fabulous movie. Totally worth checking out, and the Tree of Life comparisons are definitely apt.

I was in the middle of exams and was really disappointed to miss this, but it least it's coming back in a few weeks. This is probably the movie I'm most hyped for right now.

Geekboy
Aug 21, 2005

"But Uncle Pete...
doggie dancing is your life!
"

If you can read this, I'm probably drinking.


I just watched Primer the other day and this has now become my most anticipated film of the year. I'm hoping to catch the showing mentioned earlier that will be in Chicago.

the black husserl
Feb 25, 2005



This movie is Tarkovskiy reborn. It hits EXACTLY the same notes as something like Solaris.

Azure_Horizon
Mar 27, 2010

by Lowtax


I'm so excited to see this film. I loved Primer and this sounds like a work of art.

However, I hope it's better than The Tree of Life because I could not stand wide swaths of that film.

Azure_Horizon fucked around with this message at Apr 5, 2013 around 08:01

Medium Cool
Dec 27, 2006

Yr sister is a beauty when she's naked


the black husserl posted:

This movie is Tarkovskiy reborn. It hits EXACTLY the same notes as something like Solaris.

I have to see this movie right god drat now. Dammit. Looks like I'll need to wait about a month and drive 3 hours, but it will be worth it.

UFOTofuTacoCat
Sep 22, 2005



Hot drat! Finally. I just learned about this and knew there had to be a thread here for it. I'll probably won't be able to see it in a theater. He's going to release it streaming/HD download on May 7th for $19.99. I may have to check that out but I'd prefer to own a disc.

This is not at all what I was expecting his next movie to be...something more nebulous than Primer.

Geekboy
Aug 21, 2005

"But Uncle Pete...
doggie dancing is your life!
"

If you can read this, I'm probably drinking.


I bought my ticket for his Q & A in Chicago next Friday and I can't loving wait. I hadn't even heard of Primer until a few weeks ago and now I'm a lifetime fan of Carruth.

qntm
Jun 17, 2009


I am one of Primer's biggest cheerleaders and I really want this movie to be just as good. No UK release date that I can find yet, though.

Dogstoyevsky
Oct 9, 2012


qntm posted:

I am one of Primer's biggest cheerleaders and I really want this movie to be just as good.

It is, in my opinion, like an order of magnitude better.

Ravenfood
Nov 4, 2011


Dogstoyevsky posted:

It is, in my opinion, like an order of magnitude better.
Excellent. It opens in Pittsburgh on April 12th!

House Louse
Oct 21, 2010


qntm posted:

I am one of Primer's biggest cheerleaders and I really want this movie to be just as good. No UK release date that I can find yet, though.

It's showing at Sundance London: http://www.sundance-london.com/event/upstream-color
I don't know if it's being released generally, but I'll probably have to go to London to see it anyway, so

poonchasta
Feb 22, 2007

FFFFAAAFFFFF FFFFFAAAAAAAFFFFF FFFFFFFFAAAAAAFFFFF FFFFFFFAAAAAAAFFFFFF FFFFFFFAAAAAAAFFFFF

I just bought a ticket for the double feature (Primer on the big screen!) at the Music Box Theater in Chicago this Friday. Shane Carruth will be there doing q&a in between movies. Anyone else going?

acephalousuniverse
Nov 3, 2012


Ravenfood posted:

Excellent. It opens in Pittsburgh on April 12th!

YES thank you for posting this. Melwood screening room. So pumped now.

Geekboy
Aug 21, 2005

"But Uncle Pete...
doggie dancing is your life!
"

If you can read this, I'm probably drinking.


poonchasta posted:

I just bought a ticket for the double feature (Primer on the big screen!) at the Music Box Theater in Chicago this Friday. Shane Carruth will be there doing q&a in between movies. Anyone else going?

See my previous post. I'm loving stoked.

futurememory
Oct 22, 2011

"You're a bad man! You're a VERY bad man!"


Saw this as IFC yesterday, and it was pretty brain-bendy in a very different way than Primer. Primer is an easy movie to grasp conceptually, but the specifics are where it becomes tricky to follow. Upstream Color is pretty much the opposite of that - there's no hard to follow scientific concepts and narrative flow here. It's much more surreal and metaphorical and philosophical.

I really, really liked it. For anyone that's seen it, my friends and I were most confused by the conversation between the red-haired girl and her bearded husband about halfway through. From what we gathered, she was one of the Sampled, her pig died, she ends up in the hospital, and her husband flashes back to all the conversations that he had with her that were a bit "off."

Also, apparently someone pointed out that The Thief was a former victim, as his photograph is in the files that Kris and Jeff find at the pig farm.. I didn't notice this detail when I watched it.

BulletRiddled
Jun 1, 2004

I survived Disaster Movie and all I got was this poorly cropped avatar



I just got tickets to see this at the Calgary Underground Film Festival next week, two days after I see Berberian Sound Studio. That's gonna be a really great couple of days.

Hitch
Jul 1, 2012



I really want to see this movie. Primer was an amazing experience and I am looking forward to seeing his follow-up.

Not sure if everyone knows just how much Carruth put into this movie. Here's a list:

  • Starred In
  • Producer
  • Writer
  • Cinematographer
  • Film Editor
  • Composer (Original music all available on SoundCloud for free!)
  • Camera and Electrical
  • Not to mention self-distributed, which throws in marketing and campaigns and that whole ball of wax!

Quite the self-made movie, don't you think?

Nolanar
May 24, 2012


Ravenfood posted:

Excellent. It opens in Pittsburgh on April 12th!

acephalousuniverse posted:

YES thank you for posting this. Melwood screening room. So pumped now.

Sup Pittsburgh goons! I'll be going there with a group, but they mostly saw Primer as a logic/continuity puzzle to be solved, so I'm not sure what they'll all think of something more metaphorical. I'm kind of the same way, but I'm still up for some metaphor every now and again.

acephalousuniverse
Nov 3, 2012


Primer is so much more than a puzzle to be solved and I'm glad I never had the desire or self-confidence to try to figure it out logically. According to reports this movie offers much less in the way of temptation to do that, however.

Dogstoyevsky
Oct 9, 2012


futurememory posted:

I really, really liked it. For anyone that's seen it, my friends and I were most confused by the conversation between the red-haired girl and her bearded husband about halfway through. From what we gathered, she was one of the Sampled, her pig died, she ends up in the hospital, and her husband flashes back to all the conversations that he had with her that were a bit "off."

Wow, I don't remember this at all. Is it possible that he's still screening different cuts or is my memory just shot?

quote:

Also, apparently someone pointed out that The Thief was a former victim, as his photograph is in the files that Kris and Jeff find at the pig farm.. I didn't notice this detail when I watched it.

Nice catch! That definitely sheds some light on the relationship between the "collaborators" of the parasite and its hosts.

Geekboy
Aug 21, 2005

"But Uncle Pete...
doggie dancing is your life!
"

If you can read this, I'm probably drinking.


This post contains the mildest of spoilers.

This was the best movie about mind control worms since Wrath of Khan.

I loved the hell out of this movie and I am going to have words about it soon. I need to think a bit.

Shane Carruth was great during his Q&A and, much to my joy, dodged a question about the (fairly straightforward) plot because he said "authors should never talk about their work."

I wanted to kiss him.

silby
Nov 5, 2012


Cerulean Credit Union

E: basically this movie didn't destroy my brain, as I feared it might, but, as my friend put it, I came out with a different, better brain.

Really just trying to avoid composing a 10000 word post about my THEORIES

Nolanar
May 24, 2012


Finally saw this last night. I had a pretty decent theory working in my head on what exactly happens and what implications that has, but this:

futurememory posted:

Also, apparently someone pointed out that The Thief was a former victim, as his photograph is in the files that Kris and Jeff find at the pig farm.. I didn't notice this detail when I watched it.

kind of blew it all up. Combined with the film going out of its way to show the Sampler behaving a lot like the victims, it seems to imply that there isn't really a human in charge of this. Even the people who seem to be in charge are just perpetuating the system that has control of them. So, I guess I have a new theory! I don't normally go for Marxist interpretations, but it seems kind of unavoidable here.

hope and vaseline
Feb 13, 2001

On this never ending road to Calvary


futurememory posted:

I really, really liked it. For anyone that's seen it, my friends and I were most confused by the conversation between the red-haired girl and her bearded husband about halfway through. From what we gathered, she was one of the Sampled, her pig died, she ends up in the hospital, and her husband flashes back to all the conversations that he had with her that were a bit "off."

This is what confused me the most as well, thanks for helping clear that up, and nice catch with the files there. Another thing I was wondering, what was the significance of the numerous scenes of The Sampler recording different sounds, was it just for the purpose of sampling a variety of different environments that sound can travel through, to be able to draw the hosts to him when their time came for extraction?

I think I could watch this movie repeatedly just for the dreamy feeling from the visuals, and the music that really held together the fragmented storytelling.

edit: gently caress, I completely missed this. (answering my own question)

quote:

The transfer of the worm establishes a connection between the victim and the pig, and the Sampler can then use the pigs to “sample” the victims’ experiences—each time he approaches a victim’s pig, he can see what’s going in that victim’s life. The Sampler is then inspired by these experiences to record music, which he sells through his record company, Quinoa Valley Rec. Co.

hope and vaseline fucked around with this message at Apr 14, 2013 around 02:29

Geekboy
Aug 21, 2005

"But Uncle Pete...
doggie dancing is your life!
"

If you can read this, I'm probably drinking.


futurememory posted:

I really, really liked it. For anyone that's seen it, my friends and I were most confused by the conversation between the red-haired girl and her bearded husband about halfway through. From what we gathered, she was one of the Sampled, her pig died, she ends up in the hospital, and her husband flashes back to all the conversations that he had with her that were a bit "off."

The impression I got from that was that The Farmer was just sitting in random victims' lives and happened to pick the guy from that couple (notice the camera stayed with him even when she was comatose and he was the one making repetitive motions). It was just what he happened to look in on. This is a couple who was probably happy until he was abducted and became this new, raw nerve that can't relate the way he did. "I hope today is better" is her expressing how frustrated he's been since he lost a week of his life and a chunk of his personality.

Now, why The Farmer chose to sit in on a sad story when he had all those other choices is something I'm not 100% sure of yet.

About their love story: While it was well done and I think their connection was a real one, I'm weirded out by the idea that as soon as one was attracted, the other almost wouldn't have a choice. Think back to the kids at the beginning, whose actions were outside of their conscious control. Once one noticed the other, the other couldn't help but notice back. Once one was attracted, the other couldn't help but reciprocate, etc all the way up to their memories being malleable once they were really in love and learning about each other.

I think it was entirely on purpose and says something interesting I haven't quite put my finger on yet.

Ravenfood
Nov 4, 2011


Geekboy posted:

I think it was entirely on purpose and says something interesting I haven't quite put my finger on yet.
This sums up the movie perfectly, yes.

StumblyWumbly
Sep 12, 2007


One plot point not mentioned yet is Kris is pretty obviously more affected by the parasites. My wife thought this was just because it happened to her more recently, but my thought was that she mentioned early on (in a scene I couldn't hear well) that she was on antipsychotics or antidepressants. It is unclear if she had this condition before she was infected, but my thought is that some interaction between the drugs and parasite is what is amplifying her issues and ultimately leads her back to the Sampler.

Mental illness seemed like the obvious parallel to Kris's experience when I first saw it, but reading about Carruth's comments on his conservative family, it seems more generally about how folks have different backgrounds and experiences, and how that pulls people. I feel like there should be some conclusion about how to find common ground in a more metaphoric way than move to a pig farm, but I'm not coming up with it right now.

Really neat movie.

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axleblaze
Oct 18, 2006

I
AM
YOUR
GRANDMA


I saw this at Sundance at the beginning of the year and I really adored it. This is what I posted in the movie rating thread (minus the plot description).

Upstream Color is a movie about how little we can really understand about what's going on. It's a movie about looking back at your life and not knowing how the hell you got here. It's a movie about trying to control things that you just can't control and place blame to things that you won't ever be able to nail down. It's about just trying to get by in this world and hopefully being able to connect with someone, even if you main point of relation is how broken you both are.

This an achingly beautiful, profound movie that really doesn't explain anything to you. It will leave you with poo poo loads of questions that aren't readily apparent in the film. This is not an easy movie. It's extremely slow and deliberate, focusing in on mundane details for minutes at time as it let's just soak in the movie. It's very much a movie about creating a mood with sound a visuals and drawing you in deep. It can all seem a bit silly at times but you just have to let the movie sink it's claws into you and trust where it's taking you. You won't regret it.

It's a movie I don't feel I can do justice but just trust me and go see it.

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