Heading Upstream


2014 has really kicked off and I’ve just about managed to land back on my feet. Family gatherings, society trips, meetings, spreadsheets, phone calls and films – all these rudiments of my life have been thoroughly active these last two weeks.

Now is the chance to sit back, type and reflect on the great films that I’ve managed to see – unfortunately 12 Years a Slave is not one of them (I haven’t seen it yet)! Instead, these last two weeks have been full of cartoons and animations. However, watching Toy Story on repeat with my little cousin certainly isn’t a complaint. He’s got good taste.

This last weekend, included 24 hours on a coach (to and from Amsterdam) – a great chance to reflect on life and revisit some great films. Unfortunately, the coach was packed with girls aged approx. 20 who do seem to love a good chick flick. After bringing Kill Bill 1 & 2 on DVD and voting for a double bill, my arm was the only sole standing. The film Bridesmaids was cast next and all hands rocketed – outvoted 40 to 1.


Never mind, I still managed to see some intriguing films… alone. My film of the week (3 & 4 combined) is Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color. I’ve been catching up with some indie frontrunners from 2013, including Fruitvale Station and Short Term 12, but Upstream color is truly intriguing and vastly impressive as Carruth is practically a ‘one-man band’ filmmaker.

You don’t want to try too hard to make sense of this film; otherwise you may get a little lost. Let yourself be absorbed by the bizarre images and the woozy, dreamlike passages of narrative.

This film is about a love affair that takes place in a disorientated cityscape, which is beautifully shot in a vast array of bleached out colours and overexposed lighting. However, there is also an enigmatic figure at play, a criminal who tests peoples DNA and cultivates weird experiments, injecting whatever it is he uncovers into his pigs. He also happens to be an electronic sound composer who finds new and interesting ways to record creative music. This tense music is often juxtaposed with the reality of Kris’s life and her love affair. Kris is also a victim of the mysterious figure, making her life even more perplexing and mesmerizing.

The sequences in Upstream Color play out in parallel and we strive to detect similarities in the profligate crosscutting. There is a sense of the extraterrestrial at bay. One way or another, this film is just a fascinating pulsation of ideas mixed with wonderful sounds and images. Although, Carruth’s designs may appear derived from Cronenberg and Malick, his filmmaking is superfluous and breathes fresh and freaky air in a dawn were most is dry.


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