Movie reviews

Primer – A prime film of this genre, indeed

Weird and Wow.

Weird and wow are generally not used together. weird is not some adjective you tend to use with a movie, not at least if it’s in good sense. But those were the two words I said while the end credits were rolling. Primer, originally released in 2004 is such a movie. I am 10 years too late watching this film but better late than never. I actually watched one of the cleverest films ever, finally.

primer

Was randomly searching on the internet in general and Quora in particular for a movie recommendation with the search term ‘mind fuck’. (Yes that’s what I do on a bored Saturday night, don’t judge). Between numerous references of Inception, Memento and likes there was this film, Primer, poster of which didn’t attract me enough. The thing that made me try this film is the run time, 77 minutes. Alright, there’s a film in just above an hour, and it such a film, that no one fully understood it, let alone in first watch. Challenge accepted.

10 minutes into the film, *seriously what do people who gave all those recommendations thought?*

30 minutes into the film, *okay, something is going on, a little here and there, but no not as weirder as I expected*

60 minutes into the film, *okay, lot of things happening, I am lost, may be it’ll get clear by the end*

77 minuted into the film, *what? it ends? that’s it? now who’ll explain those unanswered bits? wait, I understood nothing and the movie ended*

Primer is a Sci-fi yet humane film based on time travel, but explores the ethical angles and characters equally and subtly. Two friends decide to make something in a garage and finally make it. They actually don’t know what it is. The movie is about how they use it and it’s consequences. The camera is sometimes great and sometimes normal, but good enough. Direction and screenplay is what it makes what it is. To top it all, what if I told you entire movie was made in the budget of 7000 USD ?

If inception is one of the films you hold as the most cleverest and weirdest, take this. Primer has overall 10 frames of reference (Inception had 4). Do watch and get lost in story and time. *adding links explaining the plot, to make life easy, a little bit*

Useful links:

http://www.sparknotes.com/mindhut/2013/06/20/primer-understanding-the-most-complicated-sci-fi-movie-ever-made

http://digestivepyrotechnics.blogspot.in/2015/01/primer-plot-explained.html

http://qntm.org/primer

http://unrealitymag.com/movies/at-last-a-definitive-timeline-for-primer/

http://theprimeruniverse.blogspot.in/ (most important link)

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Interstellar – went further

Its out in the cinemas. Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious project yet. It’s no hype in saying it is one of the most awaited films of this year. See it if you haven’t already, for the rest of the post assumes you have. Also while you’re at it, try watching it in IMAX.
Interstellar

Anne Hathaway asked Nolan ” so, when do we pretend to be in zero gravity?” If she hasn’t understood in her previous film about this person, she would’ve by then. “We don’t pretend here” replied Nolan. ‘Total devotion to his art’ is one of the many remarkable phrases in Prestige. Sometimes I wonder whether Nolan wrote that about himself? Maybe. For a project like Interstellar total devotion is what is required, from everyone involved. They gave it too, all of them.

The plot in plain English, is our mankind’s effort in search for life in outer space. The protagonist like any other Nolan hero, has lost his wife. A former astronaut, settles as a farmer with his daughter and son. Decodes some message from a ghost to his daughter, goes to a secret NASA location, leads the Endurance mission to outer space. All of this happens in a flash and he is already on the way to outer space through a wormhole near Saturn. Nolan is very clear to not waste anytime in build up. What follows is magic, Of Hoytema’s camera, Zimmer’s organ music, McConaughey’s action and Nolan’s force behind all of it.

Film picks up some real pace and parts of our brain from there. It starts by saying what explorers are meant to. Journey through the wormhole scene feels very real ( though I have never been in a wormhole, if I ever get into I would expect it to be like this). The wave scene of the trailer is the Hollywood element. After experiencing such big waves on an unknown planet far away is when the characters decide to discuss the most intimate of feelings, love. Cooper character crying on seeing the video messages of 23 years is pure brilliance. To further put in the human elements there is Dr.Mann’s philosophy on survival instincts, simple yet profound thought that is. The docking into space station while it is rotating is the superhero moment. The film reminds us we are alone in this vast universe every now and then, by those beautiful and serene shots of a tiny dot that is our space station in the vast darkness. Zimmer’s music makes the picture come alive, every scene of it. He knows when to play it on full scale and when to play nothing. The music when Cooper is in tesseract or the silence when the space station is out of earth’s orbit tells us exactly that.  To top it all there is this poem from Dylan Thomas, ‘do not go gentle into that good night’.

Nolan doesn’t like to end the stories, not at least in the conventional way. He wants us to think, discuss, lose sleep over it, construct our own theories. He would just bring on the end credits. Interstellar is no exception. The ending starts even early here, from the moment he enters the black hole. If you are sure you understood it we’ll enough, watch it again. Parts of it may not be scientifically plausible but watching it is necessary.

People ask why not some shots like Gravity, well because this is not Gravity. The objectives,intended narratives are different. The same is the case of a comparison with 2001 A space odyssey. Human brain has weird wiring due to which we tend to compare things. Comparison makes us look at bigger things and we miss out on minor details. Nolan’s film is about those minor details. Whether it is the naming of Lazarus, Endurance or Murph’s hug to Tom once she finds out about the ghost. This film is small step for story writers and directors widening imagination. Small step for human research on life outside earth. Giant leaps follow too, hopefully.

Coming to all the posts about plot holes, It’s a game we like to play. Trying to find something inconsistent, some mini plot hole, some character’s action with an unclear motive, in every Nolan film. It’s a game we deep inside knew we would lose, wanted to lose. Over the years, with Memento, Prestige and The Dark Knight, Nolan won it, quite comprehensively. We were happy losing and admiring him more and more in the process. Now with Inception and Interstellar we started winning, we assumed so. People started making lists of potholes, scientific inconsistencies and unclear scenes. Few started doubting his name among Hollywood greats, presuming he was already there. But we were too ignorant to see something right before us. Nolan isn’t losing, he simply moved on to another game, a far bigger one this time. It’s guessing his levels of imagination. We must admit, there are still a few things we are yet to understand clearly in Inception. Nolan 1 – 0 Rest of the world. He triumphed with Interstellar. Went far away into outer space and deep into human emotions. We are back in the familiar territory of losing, rather we were always there. Keep winning, Nolan. We need many more Interstellar journeys.

Some useful links:

Analysis of the poem:

http://beamingnotes.com/2013/11/21/summary-analysis-go-gentle-night-dylan-thomas/

The answers to questions on the film:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2014/11/07/interstellar_explained_the_ending_who_are_they_the_tesseract_the_blight.html

http://news.sciencemag.org/people-events/2014/11/physicist-who-inspired-interstellar-spills-backstory-and-scene-makes-him

Rajeev Masand’s interview with cast and Nolan:

http://www.rajeevmasand.com/whats-new/chris-nolan-and-the-stars-of-interstellar-on-their-ambitious-space-saga/

Reviews by far more intelligent people:

http://gradwolf.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/interstellar/

http://www.quora.com/Reviews-of-Interstellar-2014-movie/review/Ken-Miyamoto

will keep updating links.