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Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Writer's Life 4/15 - Upstream Color

Most feature length films have budgets in the millions. $50,000 was spent on Upstream Color (2013), a movie best categorized as sci-fi. I watched it last night courtesy of Netflix. It begins as a fairly standard story: a woman is abducted and made to ingest an organism that renders her a slave to a con artist, who drains her modest finances. She then somehow finds her way to a pig farmer, who removes the organism from her. She wakes up alone, with no memory of what transpired. The narrative then becomes a puzzle, the fragments pieced together slowly. Although it runs only 96 minutes, I thought it should have been much shorter. The pace is snail-like, and the action comes to resemble that of Terrence Malick's most recent work, although considerably less abstract. I'm pretty sure I understood most of what happens. I was unfamiliar with the players, although two have extensive experience. Thiago Martins, who has only a few credits, plays the thief. Amy Steinmetz, outstanding as the woman, has 66 acting credits listed under her name at IMDb. She also has many as a screenwriter, director and editor. She even has one for cinematography. Andrew Sensenig, 102 credits, plays the pig farmer/scientist. Shane Carruth plays the man, also ruined financially, who woos the woman. He also wrote, produced, edited, directed and shot the film, his first since his 2004 debut. He also has three credits as a composer. I found the following comment on the web, printed on a still from the movie: "Because it's by the dude who made Primer, proving once again that he's smarter than you." It was without attribution or explanation, so I have no idea if it's ironic. Although I wasn't satisfied at the conclusion, I respect the fact that the flick forces the viewer to think. Apparently, many at IMDb do too. 24,000+ users have rated it, forging to a consensus of 6.8 on a scale of ten. I wouldn't go nearly that high. To my surprise, shooting was done in Texas. I assumed it was New England, as Vermont is mentioned several times. Even more surprising, the film brought in more than four times its budget, $415,067, in the USA. If the meaning of the title was explained, I missed it.  Anyone who lacks patience should pass. The film likely will appeal most to those who are drawn to the arty.

My thanks to the kind folks who bought goods today, and to the woman who donated about 50 classical music CD's, several of which sold. The most interesting sales of the day went to an Asian woman of about 20, who bought Sex For Sale: Prostitution, Pornography, and the Sex Industry by Ronald Weitzer and Blueprint for an Escort Service by Vicky Gallas. I know what you must be thinking and, no, I didn't have the nerve to pry... Happy Easter and Passover.
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