The Reader Recommendation series is intended to help me formally pursue all the great films that commenters bring up each week in discussion which I’ve never seen. If there’s a movie that comes up that I haven’t seen, but you think I should, email me @ email@example.com or let me know in the comments that you’d like to participate!
This time up, our recommendation comes from Mark Nelkin of Beautiful Orange. Mark has recommended Shane Carruth’s “Primer”, a film that has gotten no small amount of buzz in the blogosphere, and one I’ve been waiting to check out for a while!
Click through to see what we had to say!
My questions in bold, Mark’s answers below!
1) Do you remember when you first saw the movie?
I first saw it about 6 years ago on dvd. I’d heard about it – but not what it was about. I’d heard that it was brilliant but I’m not sure that I’d ever actually read a review. So I bought the dvd, hoping to be impressed.
2) Why do you think that it’s recommendable? What do you like about it?
It’s completely unique. It’s strange, it’s sometimes completely baffling, it’s a bit creepy, it’s makes you think and then re-think and then completely reappraise. It’s amazing. When the credits rolled the first time I saw it, I just sat by myself without moving, my mouth slightly open. Just wow. Then I went straight to the menu screen and watched it all over again but this time with the director’s commentary, which is something I’d recommend that everyone do.
I love that it’s often confusing but still totally gripping. It manages this rare feat by treating it’s audience as adults, which is pretty rare – we really don’t need clichéd characters and story arcs to enjoy a film.
Oh, I also love the fact that a lot of people will hate it… that’s the kind of guy I am!
3) Is the movie underappreciated, do you think? Or does pop culture have it fairly rated?
Well, I think it’s probably about a highly regarded as it could be – it’s a cult classic and the anticipation for Carruth’s second feature (Upstream Color) proved that. The fact that there was 9 years between the two films probably helped as well! Primer was never going to be even close to the mainstream so I reckon it’s achieved as much as it could have hoped.
4) Is there any particular reason you thought I should watch it, or were you just surprised I hadn’t seen it?
I was a bit surprised that you hadn’t seen it. I think anyone really interested in films should give it a go… and persevere as long as you can! It’s supposed to be complicated and it doesn’t wait for you to catch-up – so just embrace that and go with it.
5) Have you written about the movie yourself? (Insert plug here! LOL )
Ha. I haven’t written about it – but I was going to later this month in my series of posts about ‘Stuff that inspires me’ (Blatant plug: http://beautifulorange.wordpress.com/category/stuff-that-inspires-me/). I’ll now have to choose another film/book/artist to write about in the next post instead!
Thanks Mark, my review is below!
A team of young scientists moonlight with their own computer card business in order to fund larger inventions. However, two of the four begin to work on their own due to differences with the others. They start to work on a device intended to reduce the weight of objects. They’re unsure of the commercial applications, but are certain they can find a way to monetize it if they can get the science down. Testing their device with a Weeble, they discover that while in the device, a protein fungus grows upon it at an abnormally rapid rate. Investigating further they discover that the reason the fungus grows so rapidly is that the device is actually causing the object within to travel forward in time and then loop back, causing an accelerated passage of time within the chamber.
It doesn’t take long for the two to build a device on a larger scale and perform the math that will allow them to focus on the backwards looping effect, enabling them to make short trips backwards in time. Initially, the two focus on day trading; investing in the stocks that they already know will have the largest growth for that day. Eventually, however, the temptation is too much, and they begin to manipulate daily events. When a rift begins to appear between the two, and the time travelling causes them to overlap with their doubles, what will wind up being the final outcome?
“Primer” is a distinctly low-budget film, there’s no mistaking it. Reportedly, it was filmed on a mere $7,000. That lends a certain level of charm to the proceedings, though, as the script and story take center stage.
Filled with physics and engineering jargon, the script keeps a fast and loose feel to it. It never gets too bogged down in explaining the science behind things (probably because it can’t, LOL) or the time travel. The result is a movie that demands your attention because you’re figuring things out as you go, just as the characters are. Especially towards the end of the film, when everything is accelerating towards the climax, things are very difficult to keep track of. You get the sense that it’s intentional, but I’m not sure how well it plays. Time travel CAN be hard to keep track of, of course, but I think it can be clearer than offered here, such as in Nacho Vigalondo’s ”Timecrimes” (which is a film I highly recommend). Here, there were a few events that I really didn’t feel on solid ground with, and I certainly don’t have 100% of a grasp on why the relationship between the two scientists broke down.
Confusion aside, this certainly is a fascinating film and a fun watch. There’s enough pseudo-science to buy into the fact that these two stumbled upon something incredible, the requisite share of time loops and time lines, and more than enough drama watching it all unfold.