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Upstream Color
BLU-RAY disk
05.30.2013 By: Mathew Plale
Upstream Color order download
Director:
Shane Carruth

Actors:
Amy Seimetz
Shane Carruth
Thiago Martins

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A man (Carruth) and a woman (Seimetz) develop a romance after they discover they are both victims of an endless cycle.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
There is a man credited as Thief (Thiago Martins), who kidnaps and drugs his victims using a worm. This worm, it seems, makes infected want to give Thief all of their money. There is a man credited as Sampler (Andrew Sensenig), who implants the worm into pigs. The pigs, it seems, bond with the victims and serve as a tunnel into their lives. There are two women credited as Orchid Mother (Kathy Carruth) and Orchid Daughter (Meredith Burke), who pick and sell rare blue orchids. The orchids, it seems, get their color through the worm.

Soon after she is drugged and sent on her way, Kris (Amy Seimetz) meets Jeff (Shane Carruth, also writer, director, editor, cinematographer, and composer), who is revealed to also be a host. Who else in the small, quiet town has met Thief? Would we like the answer?

Upstream Color, Carruth’s first feature since 2004’s Primer, offers no easy answers. It is a puzzle, although certainly nowhere near as complex as his debut. Carruth has no need for exposition and so keeps dialogue to a minimum, rarely letting the characters fill any voids the viewer may find. There are many bizarre sounds (courtesy of Sampler’s recording habits) and scenes of complete abstraction. Carruth has clearly been watching a lot of Terrence Malick films lately and Upstream Color has much of the quiet beauty found in all of that master’s works.

As the film progresses, we have to accept that we’re being given very little. We won’t be told the complete meaning of Kris and Jeff’s bond or what exactly is causing their apparent collapse or what Walden has to do with any of it, if anything. Upstream Color will infuriate a lot of viewers who either want answers or a clear timeline to follow so they can at least feel they’re being steered in the “right” direction, whatever that may be.

It’s challenging, but in the end, it’s a rewarding experience, if not solely because we haven’t seen anything quite like it before. Will we again? Not until the cycle starts anew, when Carruth starts work on another screenplay.

THE EXTRAS
A DVD of Upstream Color.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Shane Carruth’s follow-up to Primer, Upstream Color, is an abstract and near-brilliant work, part-romance and part-science-fiction. Whether it infuriates or fascinates you, it will stick in your mind for weeks after seeing it.
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12:43AM on 05/30/2013
How does this get a 1.5/5 in extras if there are none? I loved the movie, it's my #1 of 2013, but the fact that Carruth skimped on extra material, and that the disc's audio is faulty; really can't warrant buying it for the foreseeable future. Maybe Criterion will put out a special edition someday, will have to wait and see.
How does this get a 1.5/5 in extras if there are none? I loved the movie, it's my #1 of 2013, but the fact that Carruth skimped on extra material, and that the disc's audio is faulty; really can't warrant buying it for the foreseeable future. Maybe Criterion will put out a special edition someday, will have to wait and see.
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