Shane Carruth‘s film Upstream Color is my favorite film of the year so far. The strange but tender love story is colored with surprising and unsettling sci-fi concepts, all told in a manner that perfectly straddles the line between direct and oblique.

A big part of the film’s success is the score, composed by Carruth. At times the music provides big swells of sound on which the narrative action can roll forward, and at others the compositions are more halting, to echo the evolution of some of the action on screen.

The full score is available now to stream, and also for pre-order on vinyl, which comes with a DRM-free digital download. The good news is that the track titles, which can be read in the streaming embed below, don’t give away anything about the plot. Those who’ve seen the film will know what they refer to, but for the great many people who haven’t yet had a chance to see the movie, the titles will be no more spoiler-laden than the trailers. Read More »

‘Upstream Color’ Video Reaction [Sundance 2013]

Today at Sundance saw the premiere of Upstream Color, the second film from Primer director Shane Carruth. Trailers for the movie position the film as an enigma, and while the film is hardly mainstream, I would argue that the feature isn’t nearly as impenetrable as those first looks suggested. That said, this film is quite a puzzle, and a very rewarding one.

It has been nine years since Primer made its festival debut, and in that time Carruth has polished his skills as a filmmaker. Upstream Color begins with a base in science fiction, but the sci-fi element is really just a launching pad for a story about two people trying to rebuild their identities after suffering severe trauma. It is an adventurous film, often playing with little dialogue, instead letting strong audio and visual components tell the story.

After the screening Germain and I recorded a video blog to get our first impressions on record. This isn’t a full-fledged review by any means; there’s a lot to think about, and a process to working out how to properly give the film its due without spoiling the mysteries within. That said, I’ve been thinking about Upstream Color constantly since the screening ended, and I don’t think my very positive view of the film is likely to change.

Check out the video below. We dance around the plot quite a bit in the video, and there isn’t anything given away here. Read More »

In just a few days we’ll get to see the premiere of Shane Carruth‘s new film, Upstream Color, at Sundance. It won’t be too long afterward that Carruth will distribute the film himself, staring in New York and rolling out to some other cities, and digital platforms. And he’s even got a new film, The Modern Ocean, planned to shoot this summer. A near-decade away from the film scene, and now the man is back in a big way.

To enhance your interest in Upstream Color, here’s the first full-length trailer, which offers slightly more clues to the story, but ultimately raises more questions. In truth I’m trying not to delve too deeply into this trailer, in favor of waiting for the full film. But the images here are enticing, and mysterious enough that I think they’ll make exactly the right audience even more interested in the movie. Read More »

The second minute-long teaser for Shane Carruth‘s second film Upstream Color is almost as enigmatic as the first. This one adds much more dialogue, to complement another spare bit of voiceover, and that helps ground the footage. It isn’t quite as outlandish and puzzling as the first teaser. But there’s still only the barest hint of what’s really going on.

I’m trying to manage my expectations for the film — basically I’d like to prevent them from going through the roof. The few people I’ve talked to who have already seen the film are quite enthusiastic about it. But I’ve been cautioned more than once that this, like Carruth’s Primer, is a small film. That’s not a comment on the film’s effectiveness; just on ambition and scale. Doesn’t really change my intense desire to see it, either.

Check out this new teaser below. Read More »

‘Upstream Color’ Trailer: A Warning, Or a Promise?

This is the place where I’m supposed to be able to put the first footage from Shane Carruth‘s second film into some sort of context, but I just can’t do it. The movie is Upstream Color, and it follows Carruth’s 2004 indie sci-fi debut Primer. That ’04 effort quickly became a benchmark in hardcore science fiction, thanks to the very matter of fact manner in which it explored the personal and moral ramifications that might arise if a couple guys had access to a time machine.

The trailer for Upstream Color is gorgeous — expect to hear more than a few references to Kubrick and Malick — but I can’t pretend to have any idea about what it actually tells us about the film. Check it out below.  Read More »

That image above, featuring Amy Seimetz and Shane Carruth locked in a bathtub embrace, is the first shot from Carruth’s new film Upstream Color. Aside from helping Rian Johnson out on Looper when it shot last year, this is the first new work we’ve seen from Carruth since his 2004 debut Primer. That film became an instant sci-fi classic thanks to its densely-constructed take on time travel as it might affect a couple of regular guys. We’d heard this one would be shooting last fall, but it happened so quietly that we (embarrassingly) hadn’t thought to follow up on it in a long time.

It’s way too early to predict what this new film will become, especially as the released synopsis, below, is… oblique. But its announcement for Sundance next year has sent a giddy wave of excitement through those who have recommended Primer to friends for almost a decade (!) now. A couple other shots from the film are below, and you can start to guess just what we’re going to see when the film premieres in January. Read More »

The new film from Primer director Shane Carruth — a project called Upstream Color, which is only his second feature, and therefore his first since Primer in 2004 — will premiere at Sundance 2013. That’s all some of you will need to know to make this incarnation of the fest a very promising one.

Every year, the Sundance Film Festival gives audiences a taste of some of the best (and occasionally the worst) of new indie film. The festival can mint new must-see indie darlings virtually overnight, and can make the career of a director or actor blossom just as fast. In recent years we’ve seen breakout moments for Lee Daniels and Precious, Elizabeth Olsen and Martha Marcy May Marlene, and Benh Zeitlin and Beasts of the Southern Wild.

It’s an exciting time, and next year the Sundance Film Festival runs from January 17-27 in Park City, Utah. (With events in Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Sundance, as well.)

The first batch of film announcements has arrived today, and so the game begins: what might be next year’s breakout success? Carruth’s movie is certainly exciting, and then there are big obvious interest points like Kill Your Darlings, with Daniel Radcliffe; Austenland, from Jerusha Hess (Napoleon Dynamite); and Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, with Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, and Ben Foster. But the smaller films are often the big hits, so predicting what will win audiences over is impossible from here. (And, as Save the Date director Michael Mohan noted, half the films in dramatic competition are by female directors, which is a nice factoid.)

Check out the lineup below. Read More »

When your first film garners the kind of reviews, respect and cult status that Primer did for director Shane Carruth, there’s always pressure to go big for the follow up. Instead of succumbing to the hype and jumping into another movie, though, Carruth dropped off the radar. There was one blip last year when details were revealed about a project Carruth was working on, called A Topiary. Then earlier this year, he was confirmed to be helping Rian Johnson on Johnson’s 2012 sci-fi mind-twister Looper.

Now Carruth is apparently casting a new film called Upstream Color aiming to shoot in November. It’s a small, non-Union production that’s different from A Topiary. Johnson – a close friend of Carruth – confirmed the revelation of the project on Twitter, saying “The most exciting film news of the day is not The Avengers trailer.” We’d have to agree. Read some cast descriptions and more after the jump. Read More »

Shane Carruth‘s time-travel film Primer is one of the smartest sci-fi movies of the past decade. It is also a particularly compelling one because it tells a time-travel story with a very unadorned indie aesthetic. The look of the film may be born out of budget and necessity, but it makes Primer stand out, and makes the very detailed explanation of the film’s mechanics feel more grounded, and consequently more effective. The film is Carruth’s only movie, and we’ve been eagerly awaiting a follow-up. (So much so that word of his participation on Rian Johnson’s new film Looper was enough to cause ripples of excitement.)

Primer is meaty enough to withstand a great deal of conversation and scrutiny. As we wait for another film from the director, there is still plenty of territory to explore in his first. If you’ve already memorized the DVD commentary track, check out the infographic below, which seeks to sort out all of the film’s many timelines. It could make the events of the movie more clear, but perhaps not at first glance. Read More »

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If you’re a fan of Shane Carruth‘s one and only and wonderful movie Primer, this photo should put a spring in your step. If you’ve never seen Primer, I suggest checking it out, then looping back here to this post to begin again.

So this is Shane Carruth, aka the writer, director and star of Primer, on the set of Rian Johnson‘s new film Looper. It’s one of the very few images of the director we’ve seen in some time. In September 2009, Rian Johnson said, “Shane is alive and well and has a mind-blowing sci-fi script. Let’s all pray to the movie-gods that he gets it made soon.” That script is A Topiary, for which a teaser website went up last year, but funding is reportedly thin.

Now Shane Carruth is working on Looper, and Badass Digest got confirmation that he’s doing “some effects for the time travel sequences.” Given that Primer is one of the best time travel films ever made, with some great home-made effects, and Looper is a promising time-travel movie from the talented Rian Johnson, it seems that things are coming together nicely. Now let’s get A Topiary funded. Please. [LooperMovie]