Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Short Film Review: Them! (2018)

The great thing about the indie short movies is the fact that they are able to explore spaces that most feature-length films, especially those made in the studio system seemly cannot do. Them! is a short sci-fi comedy that definitely goes to weird places and does the same pretty fast. Here's how the film describes itself:

Them! is a sci-fi movie. A lady hears her dog yelp and it wakes her up. When she goes downstairs to see what is the matter, she is horrified to see the dog being eaten by a Roomba and they have multiplied.

The film, directed by DeNoise Studios and starring Susie Butler, cannot be easily described beyond the word “strange” at first viewing. The plot is condensed and so is the runtime of the film, which is short even for a short feature. However, aside from its overall strangeness, there are multiple threads to the piece. 

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Two Paragraph Review: Hold the Dark (2018)

The worlds of Jeremy Saulnier are dark and deadly, but ultimately, like any vampire’s castle, too alluring to miss out on. Even as the protagonist enters into the creaking halls of that place of horror, we know they’re as good as dead (or most of them, at least). In Blue Ruin, a lost man embarks on a doomed quest. In Green Room, a punk-rock band goes to a gig they should have turned down. In Hold the Dark, an expert on wolf behavior sets off to an isolated village in Alaska to find the remains of a boy taken by the same creatures.

There is nothing to find in the film, like in the previous ones, expect pitch black desperation, cruelty and an unmissable sense of nothingness. Yet, the ride itself is still what allows us to usher them on, into the twilight. Here too, the experience of the movie and the twist and turns its plot embarks upon so elegantly and completely unexpectedly, make it a worthwhile experience. It is reassuring to see that the creative universe of Saulnier is completely inoculated from the spellbound power of bigger and bigger budgets. Hold the Dark has a lot to offer even though what that thing exactly is remains lost to me.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Web Series Showcase: Fruit Bat (2018)

The famous though goes: an author has a writer's block and she/he ends it by writing something about - vampires. No one can deny that the world did not have its share of vampire fiction in almost any and every imaginable form. From crunchy kid snacks to video games, count Dracula and other like him have marked the pop culture landscape ever since Bram Stoker got us hooked on these creatures of the night.

However, few would deny that there has been somewhat of a saturation in the bloodsucking market. When this happens, the airwaves are ripe for one of the most important genres - parody. This is exactly the thing that Alex J. Murphy and Javahead Productions decided to do with his work. Here is the description of an upcoming web series of short films called Fruit Bat:

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Short Film Review: Happened in the Present (2018)

The internet proved that entertaining and extremely low-budget movies, featuring a medium-length runtime can be made today. Just a decade or two earlier, films of this type, lasting between 20 and 40 minutes were considered an impossible venture outside of student exercises. Movies like The Defector are a perfect example that this is no longer true. Now, a new film called Happened in the Present show that this formula can be applied to a YouTube work of art and end up as something regular viewers can easily enjoy.

This film is the work of Mark Sarko, a director and hip-hop artist based in Germany that has clearly been around the entertainment industry. The plot presents a process of unorthodox investigation that begins with a body turning up in the bathtub of an apartment. From these, a duo of oddly mixed individuals starts their search for the truth behind this event, mostly using music and weird analytical capabilities.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Documentary: Imagine Nation (2018)

Electronic Dance Music or EDM is one of the unsung heroes of the ongoing digital revolution. From its modest beginnings decades ago when first audio engineering pioneers started experimenting with modifying guitar processors to the birth of DJ and computer music production, the EDM has been growing constantly and consistently all over the world.

Imagine Nation is an impressive new documentary taking a look in this domain and doing it at a festival that holds a very special place for the EDM culture. Here how the film describes itself:

What started as a small city festival in Atlanta has blossomed into one of the largest EDM festivals in North America. Viewers are immersed into the event's eye-popping stage production, insane pyrotechnics, diversified line-up of headliners from around the world, a wide array of stage performers, Avant Garde art installations, stunt riders, and carnival rides.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Two Paragraph Review: Upgrade (2018)

First, let's talk about the weakest part of this film - in the beginning, the movie stumbles with its exposure and buildup. The main character Gray, an anti-technology car mechanic living in a futuristic near future, seems like a fish out of the water, but not in any intended way. Sure, the plot is clearly going to an ominous place but it appears to be taking its sweet time to get there in the first 20 minutes. The screen time for this part of the story feels somehow wasted and there is no meaningful connection neither between Gray and his wife Asha, nor between him and the life he’s living.

But, with the intro into the story ending and the actual plot beginning, the movie switches gears. The biggest improvement at that point is the introduction of STEM, a self-conscious chip that bridges Gray’s damaged spinal cord and turns him into a flesh-based robot. STEM is a combination of KITT from Knight Rider and HAL 9000 and it quickly transforms the film into a brilliant action movie. With some exceptional cinematography from the director Leigh Whannell and smart and funny script (which is miles away from the awkward and sloppy opening), Upgrade is sure among the top action films of the year so far.