I finally sat down and watched Primer. I think I read a glowing review on Netflix and threw it into my queue. I knew it was supposed to be groundbreaking or something like that. Was it?
If I had seen this movie in the theatres I would have been pissed. Do you remember watching Memento for the first time? Interesting, but what just happened? Primer is a more exaggerated version of this. You think it might be interesting but you have no clue what happened so you are taking a guess on that one. It could be unadulterated bullshit. Either buying or renting is the only way to go. Taking notes is a requisite. From that standpoint the movie is groundbreaking. It does not treat the viewer as an idiot. I need to watch it a few more times however before I can be sure it isn't bullshit.
Having said that there are some very interesting aspects to the film outside of the story. First it seems to be a bit of an homage to some of my favorite old films including THX1138 (Lucas), almost any Kubrick flick, Solaris (Tarkovsky), Memento, and Dannie Darko. The camera direction is well thought out. The director clearly put a lot of thought into every single shot. The tone is very Kubrickian - sparse, quiet, antiseptic, sterile, emotionless.
Second the movie was basically the concept of one person - Shane Carruth. He wrote, directed, acted, did the sound, did the editing, did much of the camerawork. And on top of that it is his first film. Hats off to anyone that can pull that feat off. I'd tear my hear out. The fact that he did it for a reported $7,000 just makes you wonder what the hell you've been doing with your life.
Third the movie has to do with time travel. This is why it is so confusing. First time through you aren't quite expecting the types of things to occur that do occur. By then it's too late. You can't quite catch up to what happened. Now whether anything interesting is going on here I can't say yet. If you play Memento backwards (I've done this) so the scenes are in chronological order, it's an incredibly simple film. But the movie still works because it doesn't just rest its crutches on that premise. With Primer I'm not sure at this point. I think he might have something. My next post will undoubtedly lay out the structure and meaning of the story. If you don't want to know don't read. Spoilers ahead.