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Science Fiction’s Most Memorable Moments Of 2013 – Brent’s Picks

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With 2013 in its final hours, we decided to look back on the year that was, and remember the moments from science fiction TV and television that really stuck with us, that we’ll still be thinking of years from now. Needless to say…

SPOILERS BELOW!

FrostNick Frost’s berserker rage (The World’s End)
On its own, Edgar Wright’s The World’s End is a fantastic movie, and one of my favorites of the 2013. Doing for science fiction what he did for zombie movies and testosterone-fueled cop films in his previous flicks, Wright manages, yet again, to defy expectations. Even knowing what you know about his work and approach, especially when teaming up with co-conspirator Simon Pegg, The World’s End is not the movie most people anticipated. Nowhere is this more apparent in Nick Frost’s character, Andy Knightly.

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A Giant Freakin’ Thanksgiving 2013

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Brent’s Thankful For…

AHumanAlmost Human
Fringe may be dead and buried, but showrunner J.H. Wyman wasted no time getting back on the broadcasting horse with his new robo-buddy-cop series Almost Human. On the surface these two shows have little in common aside from their procedural nature and sci-fi leanings, but the two are similar in the way they approach the well-worn tropes of a cop drama and use speculative fiction to turn them on their head. We’re only three episodes into our relationship with Almost Human, and I don’t want to jump the gun, but guys, this could be the one. There’s a grim future, mismatched partners who push each other, sex ‘bots, mysterious criminal networks, and action. What else can you ask for? This year we’re definitely thankful that there’s good, gritty sci-fi on TV, and that we get to see Karl Urban (Dredd) on a weekly basis.

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Cross The Streams: Unravel Upstream Color And Go Kaboom

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Summer is fast approaching, streamers, and you know what that means. Sweat. Sweat isn’t that prevalent in science fiction, unless David Cronenberg is involved. It’s a winter genre, because space is cold, and so is the future. And not much came out this week, so if it sounds like I’m stalling, it’s because I am. But without further ado, let’s get to one of the most anticipated films of this year in the sci-fi community.

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Upstream Color (Netflix)
Director Shane Carruth’s long-awaited follow-up to the masterpiece that was Primer is a masterpiece unto itself, but in a far different way. Trading technical jargon and labyrinthian plot tunnels for sweeping cinematography and a far more cryptic narrative, Upstream Color solidifies Carruth as a filmmaker who will attract a lot of initially confused fans in his career. At once speculative science fiction and romance, the film plays its subdued suspense like a countryside noir, allowing viewers to interpret events even beyond their mysterious subtexts. Knowing little going in is part of the film’s wonder, but just know that it’s about connection, and a much different connection than any you’ve ever experienced.

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Shane Carruth Hints At What The Hell Is Going On At The End Of Upstream Color

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Upstream ColorShane Carruth’s latest film, Upstream Color, the long-awaited follow up to 2004’s time travel tale Primer, is not an easy film. There’s no tidy resolution, practically every element is open to wide-ranging interpretation, and the end will leave you scratching your head for as long as you care to think about it. In short, it’s the kind of movie that is fun to sit around and argue about over beers with a couple of friends.

Talking with io9, Carruth chimed in with a few ideas of his own about the ending. That figures, the guy who wrote and directed the film should probably have some thoughts on the matter. Warning: there are some serious spoilers on the way if you haven’t had the chance to see Upstream Color yet. However, if you’re not particularly interested, or just don’t care, read on.

Henry David Thoreau’s Walden plays an important thematic role in the film, and one theory revolves around the idea of going back to nature. On a surface level, at the end, the protagonists and a bunch of other people go and live on a pig farm in the country. But this is a heavily metaphorical pig farm we’re talking about here. When asked about that topic, Carruth said:

It is—but it’s more about what those pigs are now embodying. I mean, there is a break of the cycle, [because] these people that have been affected by this [organism—a mind control worm] are now taking back ownership of the thing that they’re connected to. So in the rules of his film, that’s more or less is transcendence at the end in some form of another, to be able to be in the same place as [the pigs that have the worms inside].

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Movie Review: Upstream Color Was Worth The Nine-Year Wait

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213866-Shane-Carruth-Upstream-Color-sundance-film-festivalWe’ve been waiting almost a decade for Shane Carruth’s follow-up to his 2004 time travel mindfuck, Primer. Filmed for like fifty bucks and some personal favors, and largely inside a storage locker, Primer is a layered, intricate portrait of a character going back in time over and over again in an attempt to right the wrongs of his past, only to make things worse with each subsequent trip.

His second sci-fi themed feature, Upstream Color, is a different beast entirely. Romantic, metaphorical, and methodically paced, the story is much more linear, though equally disorienting and moving.

There is a very specific type of wriggly little grubs that, after feeding on just the right species of plant, cause a very peculiar phenomenon. A tea made from the worms leads to a synchronicity of movement between people. But when ingested whole, these buggers leave you wide open to any and all suggestions, and susceptible to all sorts of outlandish propositions, like emptying your bank account for a complete stranger.

After being injected—injected may be the wrong word, let’s say purposely infested—with these mind-control worms, Kris (Amy Seimetz) is piloted around, being bled dry by a nameless bandit (Thiago Martins). Left broke, schizophrenic, and traumatized, she encounters Jeff (Carruth) on a commuter train. A disgraced former broker, recovering addict, and divorcee, he’s got a slew of his own personal demons to contend with.

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Upstream Color’s Shane Carruth Talks About His Unmade Sci-Fi Flick, A Topiary

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Shane Carruth

I could sit here and talk about Shane Carruth’s Primer until time collapsed on itself, and I haven’t yet had the chance to witness his second film in nearly 10 years, the mesmerizing mind-meld that is Upstream Color. So it’s a good thing this story is about the proposed-but-unmade movie that came between those two films, and since it was never produced, I don’t have to be jealous of anyone else for having seen it.

A recent Wired article chronicles Carruth’s rise from anonymous engineer to cult phenomenon to obscure and non-prolific cult phenomenon. But that’s all been discussed before and elsewhere, and the tidbits he revealed about his long-gestating project A Topiary are just as interesting, frustrating as it is to know that we may never feast our eyes on it. Here’s a description of the film, which even in written form is as polarizing as projects come.

The opening section follows a city worker who becomes obsessed with a recurring starburst pattern he sees hidden everywhere around him, even in traffic grids. He eventually joins with other believers, forming a kaffeeklatsch-cult that’s soon undone by greed and hubris.

The second half follows a group of 10 preteen boys who discover a strange machine that produces small funnels, which in turn can be used to build increasingly agile robotlike creatures. As their creations grow in power and size, the kids’ friendships begin to splinter and they’re forced to confront another group of creature-builders. The movie ends with a massive last-minute reveal, set deep in the cosmos, suggesting that everything we’ve just seen was directed by forces outside the characters’ control.”