Again, I don't like to use this blog to review movies too often, but I don't often feel compelled to watch a movie three times within 24 hours
Who recommended "Primer" to me? Which one of you was it?? Why did I put it on my Netflix queue? When
did I put it on my Netflix queue?
I have no idea. There are hundreds of movies in my queue and I'm always fussing around with the order so that I can get what I want to get when I want to get it. That said, I received "Primer" yesterday and couldn't remember what it was or why I wanted to see it...
It's a first film, from this guy who had never acted, produced, written a screenplay, composed a score or directed before -- but he did all these things here. He was an engineer and he was dissatisfied with what he was doing and he schooled himself on all aspects of filmmaking, and the motherfucker made himself this film that I found uniquely rivetting.Caveat
. It is an icy film. I have a predilection for icy films. Kubrick, Cronenberg, Haynes, LaBute, Solondz. Films where the audience maintains some distance from the characters. But when you maintain some distance from the characters, I think you can study them better.
It is fiercely economical. Arguably, to a fault. One of the reasons I've now watched it three times is because I wanted to get a better sense of what was happening. It gets very complicated and perhaps unnecessarily so. Running a scant 78 minutes, I think it could have added a minute or two worth of footage just to clarify certain plot points (without beating the audience over the head). But he made it for $7K. Shot on Super 16, edited on his home computer and had it blown up to 35. He only shot one take of most things and didn't shoot much coverage. It was economical by necessity. It's a miracle he managed to create something with any coherency...
It's a story about a couple of engineers who accidentally build a time machine. It's been described as an "intellectual thriller". What I found so fascinating is that it takes this fantastical idea (the "time travelling" conceit), and it treats it seriously and realistically. From an engineer's standpoint. It deals with the horror of innovation. Creating something you don't quite fully grasp, and then exploring it.
The performances are realistically deadpan. (Not "Mamet" deadpan.) These aren't terribly charismatic men. They're no Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox. And the machine doesn't look like a sexed up De Lorean
. The machine is a prototype and prototypes aren't sexy. They're practical. And the men are just two engineers who stumbled on this invention while trying to invent something else. Their concerns are practical concerns.
I can see how this movie might make some people nod off, but I found it absolutely fascinating. At times, it feels like a documentary. It made me believe in time travel in a completely different way. It may not be perfect, but many of my favorite films are imperfect. As many films as I watch, there are a lot that I miss, and I am thankful that I managed to catch this little gem. And that's Malice's PICK OF THE WEEK!