This review is skeletal at best, but with good reason: It’s been three weeks since I viewed the cinematic kaleidoscope created by Shane Carruth called Upstream Color and I still can’t tell you what it’s about in any linear sense. That’s exactly why I enjoyed it, though.
Carruth’s new feature is his second; Primer (2004) was completed on just $7,000 by the engineer-turned-filmmaker, and its novel look at time travel, a new twist on playing the market and the quandary of creating double-selves has become the stuff of indie movie legend. Now comes 96 minutes of science fiction (between family, friends and others he’s got more resources in front of and away from the camera this time) where worms control and pigs develop a mental bond with humans. Yep, it’s that kind of experience.
The official website for Upstream Color is as different from other Internet portals pitching movies as the film is from other pictures playing at local multiplexes (though as of today Upstream Color is appropriately streaming onto one of Belcourt Theatre’s screens). Oh yes, there are “money quotes” from reviewers praising the film and pictures that media organs like ArtsNash can use to pretty up their pages, but there’s also a pre-order link for online streaming and HD downloads of the film that will be available May 7.
Why do that after screenings at Sundance and in theaters across the country? Well, Carruth has given various answers to different interviewers during a publicity tour for the film, but while I enjoy watching and downloading movies to my electronic devices I still think you should check it out on the big screen; I bet Carruth’s images and music are more powerful and potent as I saw them at the press screening than they will be at someone’s home, even if that person has a big widescreen HDTV and a terrific audio system.
I relished the experience of watching Carruth, Amy Seimetz and others act out the moments that Carruth wrote, directed, photographed, co-edited and scored; sure, there are times when I want a film to merely entertain me, but there are plenty of occasions when I want to be engaged, intrigued and even provoked. Upstream Color is not an empty emotional experience that only ignites the intellect; there’s hope and even love among the scenes that unfold from a lens where no orthodox views of our world are allowed.
I’m going to turn this over to the filmmaker himself; let him whet your appetite for his work and then go see it (there are some film clips at the bottom of this post if you’d like to catch some glimpses of the actual movie). And if you decide you can figure out more about its meaning than me, great; I’d love to hear or read your thoughts on this singular cinematic artist:
Upstream Color (upstreamcolor.com) opens today (May 3) in Nashville at Belcourt Theatre (2102 Belcourt Ave.) This film is not rated, 96 min. Written and directed by Shane Carruth. Starring Shane Carruth, Amy Seimetz, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins, Kathy Carruth and Meredith Burke.
*Photos and videos courtesy ERBP Film.