A Life of Film + [mindfuck]

Upstream Color (2013)

Upstream Color is quite good, and infuriating. It's the next film by Shane Carruth, the creator of Primer. If you want to enjoy this, try to forget that. Hmm. Carruth is pretty good at this movie making stuff, yeah? Upstream Color from a technical standpoint is put together wonderfully. It looks and sounds fantastic. It flows beautifully. But then, none of us would have expected anything less. If Primer is the cold, logical and methodical maze of paradoxical narrative, then Upstream Color is its fuzzy emotional counterpart. I mean it's not a feel-good family summer hit by any stretch, but it is less cerebral and more... Hearty. So how about that whole crazy bug transfer blue psycho whatever thing? If nothing else, points have to be given for originality. The film has the how covered pretty well, but the thing that to me is very painfully missing is the why. I mean if money and voyeurism are what makes you hard, surely there are better ways to go about getting off? But that really is my only complaint. Well, and a slightly draggey oney middle act. But one could easily make the argument that the why is not important, and that the film is about the experiential side of things, about being and feeling in the moment. If one was so inclined. I'm not sure I'm so open to that, but whatever my personal thoughts might be about Upstream, getting in and letting it take me for a ride was enjoyable enough, and memorable. Dialogue is used sparingly, but the film has a lot to say. I got the impression that Carruth was having a wonderful time speaking through film, rather than through dialogue, and that really was a pleasure to take in. The sound has several layers of importance. The passage of time is handled exceptionally well, that is, if you haven't fallen in too deep into the film's decidedly hypnotic rhythm to notice. Hmm. But why. No matter how much I try to put that aside, and no matter how much I enjoyed the film, I keep going back to the why, which is glaringly absent. I really wanted to love this movie, but I find it hard to write anything other than WHY, GOD DAMN IT? Hats off to Upstream. Really. It managed to come up with the only thing more frustrating than a copout open to interpretation ending to a film that was only made to be open to interpretation because it's writer couldn't fucking come up with a decent ending. Upstream transcends that by crafting a truly wonderful film, full of inspiration and purpose, even touching greatness numerous times, and then instead of the usual overcomplicated bullshit that they didn't know how to tie up, we are just left with: why. Fuck. I've been waiting for this fucker's next film since Primer came out, and I get this. Why did the sampler and the thief do all that crap? What was their motivation, their goal? Upstream is a wonderful movie in every way except it didn't give me any of that and I can't handle it. And again, one could say that the film is not about the why, it's about the process, it's about two people with wrecked lives finding eachother and unfurling their respective mysteries and then getting glorious revenge and all that good shit, but one can just shut up and sit down because one is an idiot. I need the why, and I need that a hell of a lot more than the how. Sorry.