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Peter T Chattaway

Upstream Color (2013)

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Link to our thread on Primer (2004) and A Topiary (in development).

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PRIMER Director Shane Carruth Preparing UPSTREAM COLOR For November Shoot
It's taken a while but Primer director Shane Carruth is getting back in the director's chair. While word surfaced last year about his upcoming scifi epic A Topiary that project has proven so large and complex to set up that while the pieces come together - and he assures that they are coming together - Carruth is currently planning to shoot a different feature in November.
Titled Upstream Color little is known about the project beyond that it is being described as a "romance / drama / thriller". The only other information available comes from the casting call notes: . . .
Twitch, October 11

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Sundance blurb:

Upstream Color
/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Shane Carruth) — 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.
Cast: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins
.

Website.

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Sundance blurb:

Upstream Color
/ U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Shane Carruth) — 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.
Cast: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins
.

Website.

I can't explain how excited I was when I saw this thread bumped.

I was priming myself (pun intended) for disappointment - but it was unnecessary.

Finally, another Carruth film!

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Tyler   

"My head is made of the same material as the sun"?

BTW, "Upstream Color" is currently trending on Twitter.

Edited by Tyler

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Looks like we have a Shane Carruth film about marriage on our hands.

And, if you ask me, it also looks like we have a possible contender for film of 2013 (this coming in late 2012, as it is).

It also looks like Carruth has studied some of Malick's techniques. I doubt this film will be accused of a lack of 'dirt' though.

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Disclaimer: Extremely passionate content ahead.

This film has so much potential.

This is the kind of thing I'd like to see Malick do. Not that I want (or expect) Malick to make a film that involves esoteric pharmaceutical processes, but I want to see Malick make a film that, for all its beauty, is also unsettling (which, some claim, is exactly what To the Wonder fails to do).

Here's a film that's obviously concerned with marriage and romantic relationships, and which appears to contain voice-over, that has something 'grounding' it (if that's even appropriate, given Carruth's work) other than the abstract idea of love itself.

.

To those making comparisons with "Signs," just stop (edit: no one has actually made a serious comparison, but I still think there's an interesting distinction to be made between how the two directors approach 'mystery). I like a lot of Shyamalan's work but the two have very little in common, stylistically speaking. Carruth makes highly technical films that, while confusing and convoluted, put everything out in the open.

Shyamalan, on the other hand, tries his hardest to conceal. I don't think Shyamalan could bear to make a movie that people might not 'get.' He has to make everything clear, even if it's in an artificial, cheap way. Carruth, on the other hand, is interested in presenting complex information to the audience and letting them make of it what they will (an approach that definitely has its limitations).

Plus, for my money, Carruth made a film for $7,000 that shows a better command of film technique and language than anything Shyamlan has ever done with millions of dollars. I can't wait to see how Carruth has been spending his time these last nine or so years, since Primer hit Sundance in 2004.

(All this from someone who loved Shyamlan, but realizes his films haven't aged well.)

Edited by Timothy Zila

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Tyler   

Carruth makes highly technical films that, while confusing and convoluted, put everything out in the open.

I can't wait to see how Carruth has been spending his time these last nine or so years, since Primer hit Sundance in 2004.

To be precise, Upstream Color is only Carruth's second film. So there isn't too much of a track record yet.

I think Carruth has spent almost as much of his time on A Topiary, which was supposed to be his second film but got pushed back because it was too big/expensive at that point in his career.

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I'm going to avoid the trailers. Looking forward to this one. PRIMER is the last sci-fi film made that I've seen that impressed me with the complexity of its ideas and the simplicity of its execution.

A theater not too far from me will be showing this so I'll be making a trip to check this one out.

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Carruth makes highly technical films that, while confusing and convoluted, put everything out in the open.

I can't wait to see how Carruth has been spending his time these last nine or so years, since Primer hit Sundance in 2004.

To be precise, Upstream Color is only Carruth's second film. So there isn't too much of a track record yet.

I think Carruth has spent almost as much of his time on A Topiary, which was supposed to be his second film but got pushed back because it was too big/expensive at that point in his career.

Yes, all of that is true. I think Carruth may have worked on both films somewhat concurrently, as there are interviews where he talks about both of them. The funding for Upstream Color just happened to 'go through' first.

And I went back and forth on my wording there, but decided the trailers for Upstream Color are enough indication (for me, at least) to say that Carruth makes high technical, convoluted films, plural (even if we've only seen one so far).

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A couple of news articles using quotes from Carruth have popped up in the news the last few days.

There's a conversation to be had here about obsessive, controlling directors, but I love that Carruth is absolutely committed to making the films he wants to make, however uncommercial and idiosyncratic, and is willing to go to extreme means not to compromise.

That kind of approach can certainly have its downfall, especially when a director is past his prime (we might, here, think of Kubrick . . . or, though I hope this isn't the case, Malick), but I'm honestly just glad to have another Carruth film to see.

Also of note, Primer, which has been out-of-print for some time, is now available as an HD download, from Carruth himself

Based on that LA Times article, I think the same will be true of Upstream Color shortly after its theatrical release, although I encourage everyone who can to see it in theaters (link takes you to the current list of cities scheduled to screen the film).

Edited by Timothy Zila

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As far as I can tell, this is the first straight interview (not a news piece containing bits of interview) that's been published about Upstream Color

No real spoilers, but Carruth (for I think the first time) explains why A Topiary has yet to be made.

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A good piece by Dennis Lim:

“I won’t always give satisfying answers,” the filmmaker Shane Carruth said, by way of warning, in an interview in early January. The premiere of his long-awaited second feature, “Upstream Color,”at the Sundance Film Festival was weeks away at the time. He was finishing the sound mix and working out the details of a self-distribution plan. But the greatest source of anxiety was the prospect of having to talk about his movie.

“I hate even the idea of a synopsis,” Mr. Carruth said. “When stories are really working, when you’re providing subtextual exploration and things that are deeply layered, you’re obligated to not say things out loud.”

Then, things get more interesting.

Mr. Carruth’s next project, “The Modern Ocean,” which he hopes to shoot this year, was conceived as a romance between an oceanographer and the daughter of a shipping magnate but has now “morphed into this other massive thing that is impossibly tragic,” he said. “I’m really curious about how far it can be pushed.”

By “it,” he explained, he means a more exploratory approach to narrative, which he has found in movies as different as Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Punch-Drunk Love” and Steven Soderbergh’s “Solaris.”

While others succumb to gimmickry and doomsaying, Mr. Carruth remains a believer in the untapped potential of cinema. “Everybody’s saying we’ve got to go 3-D or virtual reality or choose your own adventure,” he said. “But there are other ways forward. I don’t think we’re done with film by a long shot.”

Amen.

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Upstream Color remains my most anticipated film of the year (only about a month away, now!), with the possible exception of Cuarón's Gravity.

I'm convinced this film will show that he's doing much the same thing Malick does at his best, within a very different theoretical framework.

(Though I'm still not on the Malick-hating bandwagon.)

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Uh...I didn't know there was a "Malick-hating bandwagon."

Really? The To the Wonder threadis basically negativity incarnate and back with a vengeance. I jest, somewhat. But only somewhat. (And this as someone who's excitement for To the Wonder has tempered considerably). I just think it's way too early to make judgments about where Malick is going to end up as an artist. The movie formerly called Lawless and Knight of Cups may very well show the man carving new territory. Or not. But one can always hope.

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Please don't qualify any of my posts there as "negativity incarnate" or part of any "Malick-hating bandwagon."

I'd rate his films so far (that is, up through The Tree of Life) with A+, A, or A- grades...

...if pushed. I hate rating movies. In fact, you can qualify me as belonging "on a ratings-hating bandwagon."

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Rushmore   

I do see a lot of skepticism in the To The Wonder thread about To The Wonder--not without reason, especially from people like Darren who have actually seen it (and are not currently under embargo). I don't see any general tendency to hate on Malick in general. Some people around here have never been fond of Malick, but they're a minority, not a bandwagon. I think the rest of us still hold out plenty of hope that IF To The Wonder isn't all it's cracked up not to be, the other films Malick is working on will be better. Especially since some of the greatest skeptics about Malick's current direction, like Jeffrey, are also among the greatest Malick lovers.

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You mean you don't grab at the chance to qualify your posts as "negativity incarnate," lol?

I wasn't referring to your posts, Jeffrey, or any one in particular, just to the general way the film has been treated by the media and critics at large. Which, I don't know, might be completely justified. But it still kills me inside a little bit.

UPDATE:, Good point, Rushmore.

Also, this is a post about Upstream Color, and I don't want it to derail into ranting about Malick (or ranting about other people allegedly ranting about Malick), so for that I apologize. My initial comment was somewhat flippant.

Edited by Timothy Zila

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..."on a ratings-hating bandwagon."

Adding to the signature quote block.

Edited by Darryl A. Armstrong

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I had the very unexpected chance to see this as an online screener on Saturday. I haven't been told anything about an embargo, so I won't say much...but that's also because I'm really not sure what to say. Anyone who's seen Primer knows that Carruth doesn't play by the generally accepted "rules" of storytelling, and that's very much the case here too. I really think I'm going to have to see it again before I can write about it, because...man, I just don't know.

On an unrelated note, I'm happy to see Dallas featured in such a great looking film. (Also, it was very weird seeing my bank featured in a quick scene.)

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Anders   

I've got my ticket to a screening of this on April 13 in Toronto. There will be a Q&A with Carruth after the screening (via Skype). I'll be sure to report back. This is definitely one of my most anticipated films this year.

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