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I saw the movie Primer last weekend. It's an ultra-low-budget sci-fi movie by a Dallas native, Shane Carruth, and it seemed like a cool thing to check out.

It started out interesting, at least. Four guys are working in their spare time out of their garage, working on various projects. Two of them build a machine that...well, it seems to speed up time inside of it. I never quite understood how this enabled them to travel back in time, but then, most of the rest of the movie is an incomprehensible mess.

They build boxes big enough to hold people, then take boxes with them through the boxes, and by the end of the film there are apparently multiple copies of themselves coexisting. This would be an interesting situation to deal with, but we get a lot of shaky cameras, jump cuts, fragmented dialogue, and nothing really resembling a coherent narrative, so ultimately the film is a failure. The one thing I did like about it was the way it captured the mood of innovation and discovery, in other words about the first 15 minutes of the film. After that it was a mess.

Now here's an interview with him in The Onion.

O: It's difficult to tell how much of Primer can, or really should be, comprehended. It seems that once things are set in motion, the possibilities become so vast that it's hard to fully account for them. Whether that frustrates or stimulates a viewer seems to depend on the person.

SC: It gets complicated at the end. This machine is inherently complicated, the way it works, and what it means as far as paradoxes and causality. All the information is in there, but [the two inventors are] in a very confusing place at some points. I wasn't going to have this scene where somebody has an emotional breakdown, then goes on with a lot of exposition about what we've just seen for the last 80 minutes. But it is important that the information is in there, and if someone wants to piece it apart and get past what it's about thematically and get to the nuts and bolts, that information is available. I've made sure of that, and I've had lots of conversations with people who've kind of pieced it apart.

"Pieced it apart." Heh. Don't know whether he mispoke or whether that was intentional, but it's an interesting phrase.

Frankly I think he's either a very poor storyteller or that the confusion was on purpose. Either way it didn't make for a very good film.

Anybody else seen it?

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