Precious Cargo

Refreshingly Bitter And Twisted Observations On Life's Passing Parade.

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Location: Valley Village, California, United States

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Brief Review of Primer

I should have known better when a blog recommended Primer for enthusiasts of Memento and The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind because I disliked those films. I went to and read some of the professional film critic's reviews and then to and sampled the customer reviews. What struck me when reading both the pro and amateur reviews was the polarization of opinions on the film. Some said it was a brilliant intellectual puzzle, others said it was inscrutable. That was my impetus to rent the DVD. Primer's actor-producer-writer-director-composer Shane Carruth is certainly a one-man band. Too bad he can't play a tune. The film is totally inexplicable on a narrative level. It took quite a while until the premise was even set up-that the two lead characters had inadvertently created a device that sends things back in time. I was only able to figure this out from their scheme to manipulate stocks or mutual funds to their advantage. That's also about the last thing in the film I could understand. The two talk about the time travel process creating doubles, but this didn't seem readily apparent to me nor was it explained. The film's plot is opaque and aside from the plot Primer offers nothing else of merit. The actors are amateurs, the dialogue sounds like what might happen if William Burroughs' cut-up technique was applied to a technical manual and the film is visually uninteresting.

Every few years someone comes along with a film supposedly made on a shoestring budget and their triumph of entrepreneurship wows people. That seems to really be the story that people want to hear. The actual quality of the film itself is irrelevant. The success of Primer and the immense frustration it generated in this viewer means that I will now take these indie success stories and the accolades they win as a disrecommendation, alas.


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