The Vern and his Brain review Upstream Color.

The following is an excerpt taken from the audio files of an interview I had with my brain while watching The LAMB’s movie of the month “Upstream Color“.

upstream color poster

Upstream Color.

Cast: Shane Carruth, Amy Seimetz, Frank Mosely

Writer and Director: Shane Carruth

Brain:  What the hell are you doing talking to me again? Oh no. Please, say it isn’t so.  We are not watching one of your  “Ohh look at me, I’m all stylistically filmed so that means I’m super important” bull shit.

Me:  Yup, we are looking at The Lamb’s movie of the month “Upstream Color

Brain:  Were there no other choices?

Me:  There were a few others but this won out of all of them.

Brain:  What were the other choices?

Me:  That really doesn’t matter.  Let’s get going with the rev..

Brain:  Fuck you, I’ll get going when I want to.  What were the other flicks?

Me: I rather not.  It will only just upset you.

Brain:  I’m already pretty fucking pissed that I’m watching some artsy fartsy shit, when I rather be thinking about a 3 way with Scarlet Johannson and Nikki Nova.  So Just tell me.

Me: So “Upstream Color” is about this drug that when taken can help someone see what another person is feeling or doing if that person takes the same drug.  In the beginning we see two kids who..

Brain:  Tell me what the other choices were or so god help me I will give you dreams for a week about the movie “Irreversible” like I did after you watched that. Do you remember not being able to sleep for 4 days after seeing that flick.

Me:  I slept.

Brain: In 4 days, you slept for approximately 12 hours tops.  That’s not really healthy.  I can make it happen again.

Me:   Alright fine, but if I tell you.  You have to help me with this review.  Deal.

Brain: Fine.  It’s a deal.

Me: Flash Gordon” and “Mad Max”.

Brain: FFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUCk!!!!!  Why weren’t any of those chosen?  Those were way better flicks then this.

Me:  “Upstream Color” has gotten a lot of good feedback, and it got a high rating on Rotten Tomatoes with both critics and audience members.

Brain:  But it doesn’t make any sense.  The only storyline I understood was the one about the girl who was drugged into giving away all her money by some thief.  She meets a guy who also lost his money. The two begin a relationship, and then somehow confuse the other person’s past as their own.  Oh and there is also a pig farmer who records sounds and makes music with them.

upstream-color-Pig FarmerMe:  Yes, and as the movie progresses you find out that these characters are all connected.

Brain: But why should I care about any of them.   I never found the main couple to have any real motivation when watching this.

Me:  They are trying to find out what happened to them.

Brain:  Really, because I never once saw them address the issue that they were both drugged and lost their money to each other.

Me:  I think he tells her that he lost his job for stealing funds from his company.  This must be because he too was drugged and coned out of his money by the same thief.

Brain:  Yeah, but we never see what actually happened to him when he was drugged.  We only see what happened to her.  I really thought when watching this, that the man would somehow be connected to the same thief and get her drugged again.

Me:  That would be a pretty dark and depressing ending.

Brain:  Yeah,but it would have been a more exciting movie.

Me:  You didn’t find the visuals of this to be any good?

Brain:  The filmmakers of this went to a Terrence Malick class before filming began.  This really wanted to be like “The Tree of Life“.  Unfourtantly it just didn’t have the same visual beauty that movie had.

Me:  Wait a minute.  I thought you hated “The Tree of Life“.

Brain:  Oh I do.  But the use of music and cinematography was much better in that then “Upstream Color“.  I’m all for avant guard style music and sound, but here it did nothing for me.

Me:  It won an award for best sound design.

Brain:  That makes sense because I’m sure they had to make all those sounds up, but music in movies should help to create some sort of emotional response, and this did not do that at all.

Me: At least the actors were good.

Brain:  Yes, they hit their marks and said their lines. Whoopee fucking do.  Like I stated earlier, their just wasn’t any good character developments to get me interested in their story.  Yeah it must sucked to have been drugged and have your money stolen.  So why does half the movie show them walk around and spew quotes from the book “Walden“.

Upstream Color COupleMe:  Have you read “Walden“?

Brain:  I shouldn’t have to. This movie should have explained the importance of that book to it’s central story which it did not.

Me:  Oh so you want your movies explained to you.  You want the whole same tired spoon fed method that Hollywood puts into all their features.

Brain:  OK you fucking smart ass.  What does a book about a guy who chooses to live off the land have to do with this movie?

Me:  Well maybe the guy from “Walden” is like  the pig farmer, and the girl is reading his story..No.  Ummm maybe the girl and guy are connected to “Walden” because they are in some way doing the same things he did..No.  Wait maybe…

Brain:  Shut up, if I couldn’t think of a reason.  I know good god damn well you wouldn’t think up of one either.

Me:  So is this one you would recommend?

Brain:  Look.  I know that movies are suppose to be subjective and if someone finds something substantial and amazing about this flick.  Good for them. But for me, it was a real fucking bore.

Me:  Yeah, I’m kind of in agreement there with you.  If you were a fan of Shane Carruth’s last movie “Primer” you may like this.  I for one disliked that movie a lot, and it had a lot to do with it’s story structure like this one.

Brain:  Holy Shit. We agree on something.

Me:  I know it surprises me too. I really thought I would become more invested in these characters, but there is really little for me to enjoy.

Brain:  Well shit, man.  Thanks. Just for that I promise not to give you any headaches or stress for at least a few hours.  After that I got a whole new batch of anxieties for you to enjoy.

Me:  Well talk to you later then.

Brain:  Laters.

End of Transcript

img_08461 Lamb out of 5.

About The Vern

I love movies and I enjoy writing about them too. They both go pretty much hand in hand with each other and it's fun to discover new classics. I co host the podcasts The Film Pasture, ScreenTrax, and soon Cinema Recall. While also contributing reviews and articles to other great sites when I can.
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16 Responses to The Vern and his Brain review Upstream Color.

  1. manilovefilmsdylan says:


    Right there with you, Vern, though I must admit that *after* hearing a few others talk about the film, I’ve lightened my stance a bit.

    I also wonder how coherent I was while watching it. I mean, I didn’t fall asleep or anything, but the volume of information I missed means I was either hung up on something else or was spacing or am, in fact, an idiot. Loath as I am to the idea, I might watch this again in a few months or years.

  2. Ha, nice work. And yeah, it feels as if you’re not allowed to say that you didn’t like this film… I loved Primer but this didn’t hot home for me. It really felt as if it was trying to hard. Having said that, it was beautiful in many ways and if it wasn’t for the fact that we had to wait 10 years for it then it may not have been such an issue. I still think that Carruth can be an important film maker – I just hope that he starts making films more regularly. I hear that his next is already in pre-production so fingers crossed.

    • The Vern says:

      As a filmmaker. Yeah the man has proven he is very different from the rest. I may have not liked his movies, but I can’t deny that he has a fresh and original voice unlike many others.

  3. CMrok93 says:

    It surely does mess with your mind, but less than Primer did. And for that, I really appreciated this movie. Because even while it was terribly confusing at times, there was still some substance right in the middle of it all, and it just kept me watching and watching. Nice review.

    • The Vern says:

      Oh I kept watching this one too Dan, and at the end I too felt like I was drugged trying to find out more info about what the hell I just saw. Thanks for the comment

  4. Pingback: MOTM/LAMBCAST #188: UPSTREAM COLOR | The Large Association of Movie Blogs

  5. Pingback: Man, I Love Films – MOTM/LAMBCAST #188: UPSTREAM COLOR

  6. elina says:

    Oh, I love your review, even if I did really like the film. Your brain is quite awesome.

  7. table9mutant says:

    Lol! Nice review. 🙂 I’m skipping this one because my brain prefers to take a nice nap during most of the movies I watch…

  8. Nice format Vern lol. I really loved this movie but I watched it with my wife. At the films conclusion I deemed it in my top five of the year and she deemed me a moron. 🙂

    • The Vern says:

      Movies are subjective. What one person finds good the other is going to be confused by. I like movies that make you think, but this one felt like I needed to be Shane Carruth to understand any of it. He does have a great visual style. Let’s see what he can do with adapting a story. Then we’ll see how talented he really is. Thanks for the comment.

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