Register Wednesday | June 26 | 2019

pink flamingo

I've got the writing heebie-jeebies. It's been, believe you me, a swampy coupla weeks; the post-film festival letdown has kicked in, and I'm wallowing around in a trough of slippery little freelance jobs, drinking too much coffee and reading reams of self-help books (another story).

And I don't know what to tell you. When I get like this, and please don't take this personally, I sort of imagine you all, dear readers, as kind of an eyeless throng in an underground cave somewhere, pale and moist and unwholesomely anticipatory. I know you're not actually like that, but it gets in my head and gives me the willies anyway.

Here's one thing, though: I've sifted through all the movies that I saw at the festival, and for real or for fake, the one that keeps on sticking out in my head is Primer. It's like a ball bearing in a mouthful of gobstoppers; the others I've dissolved, incorporated, forgotten. A couple of them, ones I really liked, like I, Claudia and maybe Kontroll or Zebraman, come up in conversation now and then. But Primer just keeps rolling around in there, clacking against my teeth.

It's (if you haven't heard) a movie about scientists, and the process of scientific discovery, and (okay, I don't think this gives too much away) time travel. It was made for approximately nine dollars and a leftover marshmallow Santa by one Shane Carruth, whom I interviewed and who was (I think) one of the smarter people I've ever been in the same room with. He wrote, directed, starred and sound-designed, and hired mostly friends to do everything else (there are maybe ten names in the credits, repeated over and over) because (he said) he'd never made a movie before, and wouldn't know how to communicate with, for example, a real director of photography. (I'm paraphrasing.)

The film is low-key, fast-paced, startling, demanding and intimidating. It's all overexposed 16 mm so it looks like Matewan or something, and it's just a wall of rich, chewy ideas crammed into a crust of the kind of uncompromising realism that makes you realize how many things you thought were realist aren't.

The ending's confusing, and apparently that's partly deliberate (time travel just is confusing), but it's also partly because some footage went missing and he didn't have the budget to reshoot. That doesn't mean you shouldn't go see it - it still makes enough sense to be very enjoyable; what that means is that somebody has to give him half a million dollars - heck, even just a hundred thousand - so he can make another movie this good without having to worry about things like that.

There. The heebie-jeebies are dissipating. One other thing I can tell you: I was getting a falafel after work tonight and this girl walked past, this youngish twentyish girl in full retro-eighties garb, and she was holding a pink flamingo and she stopped and offered to sell it to me for twenty dollars. (I declined.)