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Primer
DVD disk
Apr 12, 2005 By: The Shootin Surgeon
Primer order
Director:
Shane Carruth

Actors:
Shane Carruth as Aaron
David Sullivan as Abe
and Carrie Crawford as Kara

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
In the confines of a suburban garage, a pair of engineers tinkers with technology that will soon allow them to span time and fulfill their wildest dreams. As is wont with time travel though, things eventually take an unexpected turn and the young men are left to deal with the outcomes of their deeds.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
I thought at first this movie would really do it for me. It had that small, independent feel which is much more conducive to good filmmaking than the blockbuster meat-grinder. It had a plot comprising some of my favourite movie elements, including the notion of time-travel and it came with a sure sign of movies I usually enjoy, namely JoBlo telling me that he'd be "curious to see what I think about it." For these reasons I probably wasn't too disturbed when the first 20 minutes of the flick went straight over my head. I sat back and figured it would aaaaaall make sense in the end so I kicked my feet up and enjoyed some very cool cinematography and the overall very stylish look of the film. It soon dawned on me however that the film being only 77 minutes long, I should probably start seeing a few signs of things clearing up but it never happened. Despite some very clever-sounding jargon and great dialogue delivery, it remained a film with very few answers to questions that were very difficult to determine.

At the heart of the film was a seeming desire to deal with issues of consequences and responsibility but I couldn't really get a hold on whether this movie was made for me and if it wasn't, who it was made for. It definitely isn't made for someone who's in the mood for some light entertainment but rather those in the mood for intellectual stimulation at the time of viewing and at that particular time, I wasn't in that zone so I took another shot at it and still, it fell flat. The obvious conclusion would be that I'm an idiot and while I would agree in most situations, I couldn't muster up the same enthusiasm for PRIMER as could the tons of people who've been praising this film for a while. What I couldn't do either was slam this film as pretentious and/or pompous like many other have. I could sense a message in there beyond the desire of a first-time filmmaker to put his work before the public. This was no WAKING LIFE and I suspect by the time my deadline for this article has passed, I may have unlocked its secrets but it might take some doing. All this is to say that this film should definitely be seen if only as a method of appreciating what it looks like but what you make of it will definitely depend on your mood that day. Don't catch this after a tough day at work because it will put your brain to work but just in case, grab a second flick from the video store in case you feel the urge to postpone your viewing before going mad.
THE EXTRAS
You'll find a pair of Full Length Audio Commentaries on the disc, the first of which features writer/director/star Shane Carruth in a very interesting discussion about this film in which one would never believe this dude is a first-time filmmaker. It's actually quite interesting to hear his perspective on the whole process and the business of getting films done. I guess where some choose to throw wads of cash around to make things happen, others prefer to use some ingenuity.

The second track features Carruth as well as the rest of the cast and some people who helped on the film. It's more upbeat and faster paced than the first and sounds like it was made a while after it. There are a few funny stories about the film shoot and everyone's little thoughts about small-budget filmmaking. You'll also find the film's trailer on the disc.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
It would make a lot of sense to buy this movie simply because it will surely take more than one viewing for everyone to get their finger on where exactly it's all going. I wouldn't do it myself though so I can't tell others to do it in good conscience but whatever you do, make sure you don't go into this expecting a straightforward time travel story la BACK TO THE FUTURE. Keep your mind open and you might enjoy it.
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