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Primer (2004)

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Tonight I'll be attending a sneak preview of Primer. I notice that Sundered has placed it in his 2004 Top Ten. Anybody else seen it? I've noticed some comparisons to Kubrick in early reviews, and the trailer is really a grabber.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I didn't see it at Toronto, but the people I know who did raved about it.

I've heard it's a real brainteaser, and one that you want to go into knowing as little as possible, so I've been avoiding a lot of the materials out there (reviews, trailer, etc.).

Edited by opus

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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I'm seeing it tomorrow night at CIFF. It's one that i've been looking forward to.

-s.


In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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It opened here last week, and the wife and I took it in this past weekend. We went in based completely on the preview and because it was made locally (in Dallas, for a mere $7,000). It definitely is a brain-teaser, much in the vein of Memento in that respect. However, for myself, I think the kinds of issues raised by the story are more interesting than those of Memento.

Kubrick comparisons? In terms of theme, yes, but not technically speaking. This just looks a lot different to me than the stoic, sort of objective viewpoint of a Kubrick film. A lot more handheld, free-flowing kind of camerawork here.

As for the story itself, I'll be interested in other's takes. My wife and I talked about it for about 45 minutes afterwards to simply try and figure out what happened. However, I don't think I could tell you now, even if I wanted to. It's in my head, but I've had a hard time trying to verbalize it. And I'll save my thoughts about the resolution until a few of you get to it.


All great art is pared down to the essential.
--Henri Langlois

 

Movies are not barium enemas, you're not supposed to get them over with as quickly as possible.

--James Gray

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From my VIFF notes -- not very enlightening, I'm afraid:

After this, I went to see Primer (USA, 78 min.), but alas, this show did not start until almost 10pm and I was apparently feeling pretty tired and I kept dozing off for a few minutes here and there. The bits I caught seemed interesting, though -- something to do with a time machine, I think, that grows out of some project a couple of guys whip up in their garage. The write-up on this film says it's one of those films that needs to be figured out, and thus merits revisiting, and a friend of mine who was also at the screening told me she stayed awake for the whole thing and SHE needs to see it again to figure it out. So, I do hope to see it again sometime ... but either not so late, or when I'm not so tired. (FWIW, this film apparently won the top prize at Sundance this year.)


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Wow! Wish I'd known this when I saw the film ...

- - -

A Primer on Filmmaking

Interestingly, this "moral puzzle" comes from the mind of a Christian who, somewhat like the characters in his film, is a bit of a math geek. Carruth ended up quitting his first three jobs as an engineer, ultimately to pursue his first love -- telling a story on film. He taught himself everything he could about filmmaking, and then, with that $7,000 -- and three years -- he did it. We talked to Carruth about his movie, a filmmaker's responsibility to communicate clearly, and what it all means. Or doesn't.

ChristianityToday.com, October 22


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Wow, it's about time. Have we arrived yet? I still feel the shadow of A Thief In The Night creeping silently over our shoulder.

Primer is actually amazing on a number of levels. The fact that it was made for a third of the money I spent on my last new vehicle is in itself incredible, especially noting that it does *not* look at all like an after-school special. It is up to par with anything else being released, and maybe even better than some. I think the green and yellow tints they used may have added to the artistic feel, and perhaps some of the angles and this tint together gave it a unique and special vibe.

The dream of dogme is realized at last. Digital killed the analogue star.

It's also amazing because even though I couldn't keep up with anything that happened in the last 25 minutes of the film, I didn't seem to mind. I was in the middle of it, and perhaps I was just as confused as the lead characters were.

I quite enjoyed Primer, and hope to see it go big-time.

-s.

Edited by stef

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Saw it on Wednesday night and loved it. Can't wait to see it again.

It reminded me of both Memento and 2001, for differing reasons. And yet, I think I like it better than Memento because the story works so much better (at least chronologically). I really believed in these guys.

I went in knowing NOTHING about what the machine can do. And I think that was the best way to see the film. When I started figuring out what was happening, I got the chills. Thus, I shared these guys and the thrill of their discovery, and felt torn up as things began to go wrong.

The movie just FLEW by. And I wanted to go in and see it again, which doesn't happen very often.

Definitely a Top Ten contender for me.

Get out and see it before you learn too much! Carruth is a filmmaker to watch. Let's see what other ideas he has in him.


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Writer/director Shane Carruth interview at AICN, in which he talks about his love of The Great Gatsby, film and book interpretation and whether or not he would want to direct a superhero film:

I

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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[Minor spoilers, maybe; I haven't seen the film, so I don't know.]

Apparently, kinda, sorta, maybe, Primer is the third abortion film of this fall. From the Onion A.V. Club:

---

Onion: The ethics of what these guys are doing in the film are dubious, to put it lightly. Did you have any such potentially catastrophic acts of science in mind when you conceived the film?

Carruth: I did, but I don't think I've ever gotten into this. The way that the device came to be was being informed by a lot of reading I was doing about innovation, everything from the history of the number zero to the history of calculus to the transistor, even the Wright brothers. It seemed like there were all these commonalties in true innovation. But as far as this device, I was interested not only in the fact that it was very powerful, but in the fact that if you alter someone else's life, you can do it in a way that they're not even aware of. The idea of being vulnerable but not even knowing how, that was interesting to me. I have a minor in biology, so I spent some amount of time studying how easy it is to start a process where you release some new strain of bacteria into an ecosphere and how little things add up. I'm really skirting around the issue here, because I'm afraid to say it. There are all kinds of things being affected... reproductive rights, basically. I think that's an interesting topic. And it's something that I was interested in.

Onion: Reproductive rights?

Carruth: Yeah, basically. I'm talking about abortion, I guess. I'm not trying to say the film is either pro or against, but the concept of affecting something before it is anything, I thought was very interesting. I'm a man, so it's very difficult for men to even talk about this topic. I'm not obsessed with it, but I've spent a fair amount of time thinking about it, in order to try and come to terms with what I believe. So the film did feel like a way to explore that. I mean, that's not what the film is about, but it was a nice side effect, to be able to think about that as I was writing.

---

Dale

Edited by M. Dale Prins

Metalfoot on Emmanuel Shall Come to Thee's Noel: "...this album is...monotony...bland, tripy fare..."

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By the way, WHY IS THIS FILM RATED PG-13?

I put "harsh language and brief violence" in my site's explanation of the rating. But then I got an email from Chip Carruth, who challenged me to back that up. I had taken the rating-blurb from another site, because, frankly, I couldn't remember what had earned it a PG-13 rating. Now, I'm really baffled. Does anybody remember any profanity or onscreen violence?


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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By the way, WHY IS THIS FILM RATED PG-13?

I put "harsh language and brief violence" in my site's explanation of the rating. But then I got an email from Chip Carruth, who challenged me to back that up. I had taken the rating-blurb from another site, because, frankly, I couldn't remember what had earned it a PG-13 rating. Now, I'm really baffled. Does anybody remember any profanity or onscreen violence?

I cannot remember any language, though that usually doesn't really register with me unless it's especially harsh or seems out of place in the context of the film.

As for violence, there was a point when the guy in the sweatshirt near the end breaks into the house, but I can't remember if we actually see a struggle between he and the homeowner.

There's also that whole deal about the guy shooting someone at a party, and we see plenty of shots at the party, but I don't actually think we ever see any confrontation. The whole point was to diffuse it.

And then there's the bleeding from the ears, which isn't violence per se, but is a bit disturbing.


All great art is pared down to the essential.
--Henri Langlois

 

Movies are not barium enemas, you're not supposed to get them over with as quickly as possible.

--James Gray

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As for violence, there was a point when the guy in the sweatshirt near the end breaks into the house, but I can't remember if we actually see a struggle between he and the homeowner.

Well, if anyone breaks into MY house, I sure hope his sweatshirt isn't near the end...


Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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biggrin.gif

I actually wore one of those today.

Interesting list, but I don't think any of those things merit PG-13.

Perhaps "technical jargon" earns a film a harsher rating? huh.gif


P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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No need to guess when filmratings.com can give you the answer: "Rated PG-13 for brief language." Next time I see the film, I'll keep my ears wide open to see what words get said. FWIW, the film is rated G with the warning "mature theme" in Ontario. The British Columbia ratings board doesn't have the film up on its website yet.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Well, if anyone breaks into MY house, I sure hope his sweatshirt isn't near the end...

tongue.gif Ah, the things that come out of my mouth (or is it fingers?) sometimes. Also, I would agree that none of the things I listed merits a PG-13. I was trying to think of anything I could that would even approach violence. To my mind, if anything gave it the PG-13 rating, it would have to be language, but alas, I remember none.


All great art is pared down to the essential.
--Henri Langlois

 

Movies are not barium enemas, you're not supposed to get them over with as quickly as possible.

--James Gray

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Saw this at Seattle International Film Festival this summer and Shane was there for Q&A afterwards. Was very moved by it --This is the most thoughtful time travel piece I've seen -- though 12 Monkeys was epic.

Funny thing was that the Seattle audience -- for all of it's 'sophistication' was baffled by 'what really happened'. Very funny to watch a SIFF 'passhole' (the term the passholders even call themselves) come right out and ask Carruth for an explanation.

Again, very funny.

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Saw it this weekend. First twenty minutes I _kinda_ got the feel of what was going on, without really knowing. Second half hour I was with it, enjoying the ride. Last twenty minutes was the brain-hurting part--so overly complicated and you felt like you were barely hanging on for dear life. It's almost like the final fifteen minutes of _Brazil_, without the special effects, grounded in "reality" and nonetheless out of control. It's chaos theory in motion.

spoilers1.gif

I can't help but think that once the folks go back in time for a few hours, their doubles never travel ahead, do they? So is that the meaning of the murders (injecting poison in milk, etc)?

Peace,

Nick

PS Tonight, Huckabees.


Nick Alexander

Keynote, Worship Leader, Comedian, Parodyist

Host of the Prayer Meeting Podcast - your virtual worship oasis. (Subscribe)

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spoilers1.gif

I gathered that our heroes were afraid their doubles would start using the time machine themselves, or build another one.

It got very complicated very quickly. Great job of confronting so many of the possible implications of time travel.

But very difficult to follow.


Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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Oh - I wish I had time to write a lengthy praise of this film!

Just out on DVD, so watched it and (at midnight) immediately started over with the director's commentary on; then last night I had some friends over to watch it. It is absolutely amazing -- a very good film on its own, but truly astonishing in that Shane wrote, directed, produced, edited -- a yes, COMPOSED for the film! And stars in it (he's the better of the two main actors). And for $7,000. That's what makes my head hurt.

No time right now, but I highly recommend this -- and the commentary is really insightful. Shane doesn't worry so much about explaining all of the plot points, but he does a great job of taking you into his filmmaking experience (he even gives the recipe for fake blood). He berates himself a little overmuch for errors, such as the times in the film he had to extend a shot to the final frame -- even though you can read his lips calling "cut".

Best quote (not a perfect transcription):

I knew what the story was well before it had to do with science or science fiction. I was very interested in trust and how it's related to what's at risk.

I just re-read this thread and everyone wondered about the rating -- well, the DVD comes up with a slate identifying a "R" rating for brief language. I only heard a 'damn' and a couple of 'hells', though someone else wondered if one of the conversations referenced masterbation. But... rated R?? i dunno.

Outstanding -- see this one! Hopefully I'll write more later.


"Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?"

« Nous connaîtrions-nous seulement un peu nous-mêmes, sans les arts? »

Quoted on Canada's $20 bill; from Gabrielle Roy's novel La montagne secrète. The English translation, The Hidden Mountain, is by Harry L. Binsse.

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Finally saw it last night and liked it quite a bit. It's definitely one that, once you start thinking about it, quickly addles the brain. There were a few parts that I thought were left a little too vague for the film's own good, such as the

whole plot concerning Thomas Granger and his murder

, and I thought the shotgun bit was a tad contrived, but those are very small complaints that might be diffused upon watching the film again.

One thing that I really liked about the film was the near lack of techno-babble. Maybe I've just seen one too many time travel episodes on Star Trek, with their mentioned of inverted neutrinoes, positronic chronotrons, and other such gobbledygook. There is some science speak, but there's a great ambiguity about everything the guys are doing and using which, in this case, works.

Edited by opus

"I feel a nostalgia for an age yet to come..."
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