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Upstream Color

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Reggie W, Mar 22, 2014.

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  1. Reggie W

    Reggie W Well-Known Member

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    So, this is a film that to me seems to be flying a bit under the radar. This thread is meant to both generate some attention for it and some (spoiler free) discussion of it. I actually have not yet seen it but it is on the way to me and I should be viewing it some time in the next week. It is a blind buy for me and currently priced at a very friendly $16.00 and some change at Amazon for anybody willing to dip into this one. The director/writer's last film was Primer which was a nice little sci-fi thriller that did quite a bit on a limited budget and left me feeling much anticipation for what Mr. Carruth might do next. It took nearly a decade to find out what that was and I am sorry I was unable to catch this film in a cinema but now very much look forward to watching it in my home theater.

    Apparently this is one of those "love it or hate it" films and that kind of thing always intrigues me because I think it generally means the film is making some sort of strong impression on people and there is likely a very good reason for that...and with an independent film like this that reason usually is centered around the creators being allowed to create something unique without outside interference. I've seen this film make a lot of people's "10 best of 2013" lists and I've read some people bashing it without mercy. I've also read some interesting comparisons to other filmmakers I like...Terrance Malick and Andrei Tarkovsky being a couple...and while I always take comparisons to other filmmakers with a grain of salt--I think they generally alter a person's expectations in a negative way making them expect something exactly like another film and when it is not they are bitterly disappointed--this adds to the intrigue.

    Even though opinion is split on the film people do seem to agree that in all of the technical aspects this is a gorgeous and wonderfully presented work. The photography, score, acting, design and editing are all praised by people on both sides of the debate. To me at least this makes this an exciting and must see film from a talented filmmaker that has offered us only two films in the last decade.

    I'll report back once I have seen it but hopefully this will open discussion and debate for those that have seen it and maybe spark some interest from the locals here.


    Upstream Color.jpeg
     
  2. Reggie W

    Reggie W Well-Known Member

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    So, I am going to assume this is a pretty obscure title at this point as there have been 119 views of this thread and not a single comment...not even an "I liked it" or an "I was bored to tears by it" kind of thing. I will be back to get more into this once I have seen it this week but has anybody here actually seen this film?

     
  3. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    One of the local Target had this on the shelf. The other BR specific forum has been gushing about this movie.It will land in my collection once I open up at least 20% of the last 150, or so, movies I've bought. Got a log jam going.
     
  4. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Well-Known Member

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    I watched this on Netflix and found it very intriguing and haunting but don't think I quite "got it" on that one viewing. I've been meaning to watch it again and plan to, but am reluctant to buy the Blu-ray because of reports in the thread on the other forum that there were some sort of sound sync issues with it. Did you notice such a problem in your viewing of the Blu-ray, Reggie?

    Vincent
     
  5. JustinFow

    JustinFow Member

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    I haven't had any sync issues with my copy. It's a shame this didn't get recognized for the score or cinematography at the Oscars.
     
  6. ROclockCK

    ROclockCK Premium
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    I blind bought this Blu-ray on the strength of a single name...Shane Carruth. His Primer remains one of the smartest, most labyrinthine, and yet shortest science fiction films I've ever had the pleasure of wrapping my head around while trying to unravel. It's a great time/space mental puzzle which never fails to hook me every single time I pop it into the player. Just love the way it forces you to fill in myriad off-screen events from onscreen 'smoking gun' clues.

    So I was predisposed to at least like Upstream Color too. Only difference - unfortunately it's a biggie - I've only seen this one once, and have not (yet) felt compelled to watch it again. I don't know why that might be either...there's certainly a lot in there...and Carruth's talent for surreal visual detail is again at the fore. But for some reason it's just not drawing me back with the same 'can't-get-the-damn-thing-out-of-my-head' tenacity as Primer. I'm sure I'll give UC another spin soon - in fact, it caught my eye on the shelf just last night - but nothing has been burning inside me to do so.

    Might just be a slower burn with this one...
     
  7. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    Some superb reviews.
     
  8. Josh Steinberg

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    I caught this in theaters last April - writer/director/star Shane Carruth was there to introduce the screening.

    I absolutely loved his first film "Primer" so I was eager to check this out. It's amazing how different a movie it is. Primer is all about dialogue, about ideas, words, and plotting, It's a great movie, but it's not one that's going to test your home theater system or blow your mind for it's cinematography (which is totally okay, that's just not the style it's aspiring to - and it was made for like $7000).

    I was shocked by how different "Upstream Color" was, it's practically the inverse of "Primer" - lyrical, musical, dreamy, Terrence Malick-y, haunting, graceful. It's not for everyone, but I recommend giving it a try - especially if you're a fan of movies that tell their stories more through images than words.
     
  9. MLamarre

    MLamarre Well-Known Member

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    Coincidentally, I watched this for the first time on Saturday afternoon, and immediately before that I watched Malick's To the Wonder, also for the first time. With knowing little to nothing about both films going in, it struck me how incredibly similar in style they both are to each other.
     
  10. Reggie W

    Reggie W Well-Known Member

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    I don't yet have the blu-ray in my possession, Vincent, but once I do I will let you know if there are any issues with it. Good to read the responses here and I am with Steve on this one...Shane Carruth is an interesting filmmaker and I welcome the chance to see more of his work.
     
  11. Reggie W

    Reggie W Well-Known Member

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    Ok, first to answer Vincent's question, there were no sound sync issues with the blu-ray. Perhaps there was a bad batch and a few had this issue but I found no such problem. I ordered the disc from Amazon for whatever that is worth and encountered no problems.

    Now on to the film...

    I do understand the Terrence Malick comparisons. In fact while I was watching the film my wife walked into the room and after a few minutes just outright asked "Is this a Terrence Malick film?" as she is a fan. It does have that look and feel but with an undercurrent of "strange" running underneath it.

    Now this is a film that will be both annoying to some folks and also annoying to watch with certain people...particularly the ones that always ask "Why did this happen? Why did that happen? How did he do this? How did he do that?" because this film is more of a poem...an allegorical tale that does not explain itself to the audience in a traditional way. I enjoyed watching it alone because it is a film to ponder and not an amusement park ride. I'll just be honest, this is a connect the dots kind of thing and you are not going to get straight answers from this film so if you don't like that kind of thing you should probably pass and if you do like that kind of thing...well...dive right in the water is fine!

    It is beautifully shot, has a wonderful score and sound design, and the acting is well suited to the picture...and could come straight out of a Malick film. The two main characters have suffered some sort of trauma and so their detachment and odd emotional states actually work really well here. So, what is it about? I'll give you my basic feelings about it under the spoiler banner...

    So after a single viewing of this film if you were to ask me what it is about I would have to tell you that there is a reason that Thoreau's Walden plays such a prominent part in the movie. What I got out of it was it is a story influenced by Thoreau's book that basically is painting a picture of our connections to nature, the world, and the cycle of life. How mankind can affect this cycle and what effect this will have on us when we do. From a symbolic standpoint there is likely much to dissect with further viewings but where I was taken by it was how everything is connected and how the manipulations of mankind affect these connections...at times in ways we might not be aware of at first. Water, soil, insects, plants, animals, and people are all part of one cycle and this was where I felt the film wanted to go.
     

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