Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Primer: Review

So in between prepping for class and writing today, I got around to watching Primer, which I'd been hearing a lot about lately.

It's this odd low-budget time-travel movie that scored big at Sundance this year.

And I do see why -- there's a lot to like about it (and some things to dislike, I'll add).  On the whole, it left me unsatisfied, but it's worth watching.

What's good -- I really liked the first half or so, when the geeks are kind of accidentally building a time machine in their garage.  The movie sold this really well.  They talk like and act like scientists/inventors, and the pacing is great.

The dialogue for the first half is also really well done.  No explaining to the audience, no dumbing it down.  It feels and sounds authentic.  You keep up or you don't.  It's nice.

The actors are good, too.

Sadly, once the time machine is built, well, it's like our writer/director (Shane Carruth) couldn't think of what to do next; though according to Wikipedia he says that was the point: these guys accidentally have a time machine and they haven't considered the ethical implications, blah blah.  But the movie doesn't do anything with the time machine, first, (except We'll Get Rich Playing the Stock Market!!); and second, in the last 10 minutes or so or the movie, after we spend about 20 minutes muddling around doing not much with the time machine, about 11 abortive plots come out of nowhere and go nowhere.  The End.

Also: Women.  We have basically one and a half women in this movie.  One woman is one of our hero's wives.  She spends the entire movie cleaning and cooking.  I wish I was kidding.  This is all we see her doing, clean, clean, clean.  Cook, cook, cook.  She calls our hero once on the phone, MAYBE causing a paradox.  Why is she calling?  News about what she's cooking for dinner.

This is what women are for.  To cook.  And to clean.

The half a woman is the daughter of the possible funding source.  She exists only a plot point.

And it's not like there weren't other characters in the movie.  There were.  Minor characters existed. Scientists.  Lab workers.  Officer workers.  All men.

2013.  It's getting a little wearing, guys.


Dame Eleanor Hull said...

I saw that a couple of years ago and loved it: it totally nails the engineering-nerd mentality (have lived among such most of my life). Not all, but a significant subset of engineering/science nerds just don't really register women. I saw the movie as a sort of Sorcerer's Apprentice fable. Also I couldn't figure out if the slight color shifts were a result of low-budget filming or a signal (like in the different storylines of "Traffic") that we were in a different timeline. I watched it 3 times trying to figure that out.

delagar said...

I really liked a lot of it too. It was mostly the ending that put me off -- the saving-the-girl-at-the-party bit that came out of nowhere was kind of bizarre, and if that had been cut, and we're done something more with the doubles trying to stop Abe from ruining his life sort of thing instead, that might have worked better, I think?

I mean, it's even made clear that the girl *isn't* shot in any time stream. So he's not really doing anything.

Which might be the point, I suppose.