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Friday, February 12, 2010

Science Fiction Film Fest - Famous Monster etc.

Thursday night's event:
Dir. Andrew Jones. 8 min., USA, 2008.
A legendary monster stalks Neo-Mega-Ultra Tokyo.Featuring CGI and cool stop-motion animation.
Third viewing of this short, and I appreciate it all the more with each viewing. The style of color mixed closeups, Stop motion animation, rat-a-tat dialog, and a cool science fiction premise combine for a fun trip. New Rating (8.1)

Conlang (2009) - A love story wrapped in the premise of a club that is working on a new language. It has Trekkies and other "Con" character types working on this language. When a bully challenges for the club presidency the struggle that ensues pushes the main character towards what is really important in life. Short and inventive this film has its heart in the right place. Rating (7.4)

Famous Monster: Forrest J Ackerman (2007) - Documentary about science fictions number one fan Forrie Ackerman. Before people collected poster, books and props Ackerman was out there putting together the greatest collection ever, over 50,000 items. Before there was Comic Con, and Science Fiction conventions, Ackerman was there putting together gatherings. Ackerman attributed for coining the phrase Sci-Fi was the genre's number one fan. Ackerman went from being fan to participant in many movies to science fiction icon. With James Warren he created the popular science fiction magazine "Famous Monster of Filmland" which indoctrinated a generation of kids into the world of science fiction and horror films. Although not in the film Ackerman and Warren are also responsible for creating the comic book character Vampirella. The film is a very loving look a man and his passion and how he made science fiction the popular genre we all cherish. Rating (7.7)

The Boston Science Fiction Film Festival has been going on since Feb. 5th. It continues through Saturday night. Each nights events start at 7pm @ the Somerville theater. Sunday noon to Monday noon is the 35th Boston Science Fiction Marathon.

Fri. Feb 12th
World Premiere!
Director in Attendance! Q&A Following Screening!
Dir. Matthew Avant. 99 min., USA, 2009.
A conspiracy radio show caller claims that people from the future live on the moon and control our every action. Filmmakers Matt and Sonny chase the story deep into Louisiana’s Atchafalaya Basin where an ominous underground compound raises more questions than answers. Threatening encounters, the bizarre and reclusive Church of Lunology, mysterious secrets, alternate histories, time travel, and more.

Sat. Feb 13th
New England Prmeiere!
Dir. Jamin Winans. 107 min., USA, 2009.
When we sleep, two forces emerge. One supports our hopes and gives us strength through dreams. The other leads us toward desperation through nightmares. Then there are the others with unknown purposes. They live in a shadow-world, like the mercenary named Ink. 

Eight-year-old Emma awakens in the dream world and the fight for her soul begins INK is a cult classic in the making -- see it with an audience!
Tickets are still available for the Marathon! at the Somerville Theater Feb. 14th to 15th noon to noon.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Science Fiction Shorts Night 3 - Planetary Paranoia

The Boston Science Fiction Film Festival - This new event connected to the Boston Science Fiction Marathon Feb. 14-15 noon to noon is a wonderful addition. Each night from now until the Marathon there will be a feature or a night of Shorts at 7pm at the Somerville theater. I encourage you to look into getting tickets for these events.

Reminder I recommend anything with a 5 or above rating. I am not the toughest guy to please.

SITA (2008) - Tchaiko Omawale directed this story of a faerie who helps and then loves a mental health patient. She brings him back from the brink with her invisible(to him) arms. As he recovers he begins a relationship with a woman and the faerie is jealous and starts her own journey of acceptance. Artistic and fluid with great music. Rating (6.1)

RATS (2006) - Humans are isolated, each living and staying in their space only interacting through the share computer network. Fear of going outside is strong but when the system is in error one man decides to go. Outside is tainted and he worries about safety. When he discovers the problem, he handles it in an appropriate manner. Filmed in polarized black and white it is a distracting choice but does give the comic feel to the world. Rating (4.8)

1:03 AM (2009) - A man brings his paperwork to the government agency in charge and the papers are approved. His time will be 1 minute starting at 1:03 AM, from that time he has one minute to legally murder his cheating wife. Good reveal and pacing, with a decent turn at the end. Rating (6.1)

The Replicant (2009)- Writer and director David Walton Smith did this short about a man getting a new synthetic body. Now immortality is possible, but what happens to his old body. Well it wakes up and runs of course. A quick chase scene and resolution make this short work. Maybe not the most original of ideas but very adequately executed. Rating (6.0)

Die Schneider Krankheit (2008) - A spaceship with a monkey in it lands behind the iron curtain in post WWII (50's?)Europe loosing a deadly disease. The communist science community works for solutions and cures in this part newsreel part propaganda film. Ending with the facts that the cure had not been found but that life could continue but with wearing gas masks. Rating (6.1)

Under God (2009) - President Eisenhower visits UNIVAC the countries first supercomputer. A skeptic of its intelligence Ike is challenged to as any question. He asks "Is there a God" the computer works and then spits out an answer. Writer Director Richard Farmer wraps that answer into some history of the era creating a cool short that mixes science, religion and politics together into a nice package.
Rating (7.8)

Afterglow (2009) - Two local new militia men investigate a report of surviving aliens from a failed invasion of earth only to find something very unexpected. They run out of gas and in the process of finding some they come across an older couple. The couple is suspicious and soon it become apparent they are hiding something. The reveal is a good showing the depth of their paranoia after the near invasion. Rating (6.5)

Oxygen (2009) - A worker in the maintenance department in an isolated community find out things are not what the government has told them. In a constant storm the people of the community have been told the air outside is poison and will kill them. The worker Xavier find out the truth when he discovers a hole in his apartment wall that has been letting in outside air. The police are on to him though and soon he must flee the city for his own good. New and amazing realizations still await him on his journey. Rating (5.8)

Lifeline (2009) - Animated story of a man attempting to travel back in time to be with the woman he loves. The problem is that in order to have love he has to cut the lifeline back to his own time. Rating (5.5)

Attack of the Nebula-5 Robots (2008) - Amusing seven minute short about a mentally ill man who believes that robots from nebula 5 are going to attack and destroy the planet. Each day about the time he saw for the attack he sits in what he believes is the only safe place. Writer Director Chema Garcia Ibarra does a great job at developing character and a story full of humor. Rating (8.1)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Science Fiction Shorts Night 2

The Boston Science Fiction Film Festival - This new event connected to the Boston Science Fiction Marathon Feb. 14-15 noon to noon is a wonderful addition. Each night from now until the Marathon there will be a feature or a night of Shorts at 7pm at the Somerville theater. I encourage you to look into getting tickets for these events.

Reminder I recommend anything with a 5 or above rating. I am not the toughest guy to please.

Night two of Shorts...

Perfect Companion (2009) - Story about a lonely woman, Annie (Laurie Slater) who after some reluctance turns to the online dating service perfect companion to meet a guy. The short shows their getting together, dating and love making. One night Greg (Derek Osting) starts to say he loves her but breaks down, literally because he is a robot. The film from shows how the spell is broken and now she can see him as nothing but a robot. Well done the short uses the robot edifice to explore relationships. We could easily substitute a human man with some other character flaw and have the same movie that is not Sci-fi. Connection in humans is so delicate at times and we get into these fantasies about what a perfect relationship is. What real connection is and then a angry outburst, a drunken night, or a program malfunction removes the perfection veil. The Actress came to the screening but Since I get up so early in the morning I could not stay for the Q&A. Rating (7.3)

Escape From Death Planet (2009) - A quick action filled short that has little point or meaning. It quickly drops us into a story of giant centipedes and things going horribly wrong. Three survivors try to find a way off this rock before they are eaten. The car driving through the background at the end was exceptional. Rating (2.9)

TypeA - The Osiris cryonics lab will liquid freeze you dead corpse but they can't guarantee you will stay that way. Workers in the lab are hunted and killed by the frozen. Other than the facility is failing mechanically no explanations are given to why. Three workers hold up in an office to fend off the dead,, for a while. Rating (4.0)

Mr Bojagi (2009) - This was a pleasant little moral tale about gift giving, the two characters were well developed for a ten minute piece. Kudos to writer Kat Wood for that. Mr. Bojagi (Brian Blessed) was over the top but in a Santa Claus kind of way and The Women (Hildegarde Neil) gives a wonderfully subtle performance as a person in need of a lesson. Rating (7.6)

All Systems Go: Neil Armstrong (2009) - A music video with space animation short with a thumping beat by Robert Dohrmann Rating (4.8)

The Kirkie (2009) - The story of three friends who break down on the way to a science fiction convention. The least dorkie one who is not dressed like a Stormtrooper or a character from Tron enters a bar to call AAA. He meets a girl on the date from hell, and is soon drawn into a fight where he must deploy the Kirkie, a two handed chop used by Captain James T. Kirk on Star Trek. The little fantasy that leads into this is funny and the outcome expected but also funny. Done with humor and for laughs with many sci-fi references this one was fun to watch. Rating (7.0)

The Latest Thing (2009) - Should the human brain get added software if it can improve efficiency? After watching the number of patches on my windows box I would say no. This light came to the screening but Since I get up so early in the morning I could not stay for the Q&A.hearted short by Hamilton Scott says the same thing. When a family man is upgraded with buggy software some very funny scenes follow. Shot through his eyes we see him interact with his family and the guys writing and selling the software. The director came to the screening but Since I get up so early in the morning I could not stay for the Q&A. Rating (6.6)

Enigma (2009) - Like last night the best was saved for last. Enigma a half movie 42 mins was the best of the night. Very good special effect and set design surround this story of a military experiment that will help the human side win a war against the alien Cnidarians. A Cnidarian prisoner is transported on a ship called Genesis only to escape and kill the crew. The alien ends up dead too, but how? This is the mystery solved by the unfolding of the story. The acting was good and the story very interesting, like I said earlier there was a cgi budget in place and special effects looked good. The twist at the end was decent and you came away feeling the like this was well executed and exciting at times. Rating (8.5)

Science Fiction Shorts Night 1

The Boston Science Fiction Film Festival - This new event connected to the Boston Science Fiction Marathon Feb. 14-15 noon to noon is a wonderful addition. Each night from now until the Marathon there will be a feature or a night of Shorts at 7pm at the Somerville theater. I encourage you to look into getting tickets for these events.

Night One of Shorts...

Theosaurology (2009) - Animated short about the nature of dinosaurs, and their super powers. Yes that's right superpowers, in fact when dinosaurs realized what they were the awesomeness of them covered the planet and set off a superpowers race that eventually was their demise. In an effort to prove their awesomeness the pachycephalosaurus' used their mental powers to pull a meteor to the planet. Unfortunately it meant the end of these Super cool and totally awesome creatures. Alex Austin wrote this cute, under animated short.
Rating (6.3)

Empathy (2009) - Writer / Director Benjamin Pascoe executed this concise story about a man who learns a hard lesson in empathy. Shot in blck and white a father is having an ideal life with his beautiful daughter. Creating the too perfect images is a good turn in this case, forshadowing quickly that things can't be what they seem. When the little girl is hit by a car and killed Stanley must face the grief of loosing his girl. Cut to Stanley in a program that gives him these memories as part of an experiment to Punish(?) people who have killed others while drunk driving.
Rating (7.2)

The Package (2009) - Ah, the days of VHS tape... Dave (Justin Hosking) and Lisa (Liza Catherine-Dennis) are having a horrible fight, well written and passionate by writer Tim Anderson. Director Oliver Waghorn keeps it simple and when Lisa leaves Dave is standing in what could be the aftermath of his relationship. A VHS tape is delivered to the door and Dave immediately plays it. It is him 40 years in the future, future dave relays how this is the moment he makes a string of catastrophic decision in his life. He is sending this tape back to tell past Dave how to avoid them. Good predictable laugh when the tape breaks in the player.
Rating (6.5)

Destination Day (2010) - Tim (Richard Pappas) travels back in time to fix a relationship before it goes wrong. Only can we really change the past and have it come out the way we want in the present? Writer Chris Lassig references Perth's Destination Day where people in the present invited time travellers to a gathering. No one showed up of course which leads one to believe that in the future 1. There is no time travel 2. Human don't exist 3. They have lost records of this event and thus can't visit 4. Have no interest or can't contact those in the past. or 5. anynumber of other reasons. This story though focuses on Tim and Valerie (Audrey Lamont) who work together and have slept together. This is the day after the intimate encounter where future Tim is trying to change the outcome.
Rating (4.9)

Operation Blast (2???) - It is 2017 and the war with the taliban continues, except now little turban wearing robots are attacking us and we are naturally defending ourselves with our own little GI Joe robots. This stop motion animation short by Jeffrey Hollins is cute but sort of pointless.
Rating (3.7)

VHS Reporter (2009) - Stange little film about a group of people coming together and waiting for a ride. Pretty much some introductions to some somewhat strange characters and then the twist that most of them are aliens heading back to space. Nothing really made this stand out.
Rating (3.7)

Dimensional Meltdown (2009) - Parallel universes where a man's girlfriend dies repeatedly and he can not deal. He travels through wormholes to try to change the outcome. Do these things ever come out well?
Rating (4.2)

Frank DanCoolo: Paranormal Drug Dealer (2009) - by Writer director Andrew Jones, Neo-Mega-Ultra Tokyo is the setting for this stylish story told through the investigating of reporter Holly Malone (Priscilla McEver). She follows leads at crime scenes to the Super Natural pill Pucher Frank DanCoolo (John Charles Meyer). He is sells his phsycic brain fluid but has to deal with the side effects of creatures from the other side crossing into this reality. A wonderful mix of 1940s style ratatat dialog, CGI and stop motion monsters this over the top short was a great way to end the night. Although I loved it this coul really not hit spots for everyone.
Rating (8.0)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mutant Swingers From Mars (2003) Science Fiction

The Boston Science Fiction Film Festival - This new event connected to the Boston Science Fiction Marathon Feb. 14-15 noon to noon is a wonderful addition. Each night from now until the Marathon there will be a feature or a night of Shorts at 7pm at the Somerville theater. I encourage you to look into getting tickets for these events.

Mutant Swingers From Mars (2003) - This parody starts as a mockumentary celebrating the deceased movie maker Orton Z. Creswell (Pete LaDuke), with interviews with actors he worked with, clips from his movies and a short biography. Some of this first part was amusing although at times I was distracted by the makeup work to make the actors look older. The script in this area was good except some of the interview material seemed less focused than the narration. Certainly there were odes to B movie maker Ed Wood, and the film uses multiple references to real science fiction movies. In fact some of the funniest bits were the clips of Creswell movies all rip offs of real movies.

Then we get to see the Creswell film "Mutant Swingers from Mars" a standard low budget 50's era science fiction movie, or in this case a 2003 parody of a 50's movie. Martians come to earth to force a mad genius doctor to create a super swinging reanimated dude Fez Fleckman (also Pete LaDuke). He is to hypnotized women of earth for the purpose of the Martian men taking them back to mars and replacing their frigid females. There was an amusing similarity to the Coneheads including the female Martian hiss. The inept aliens actually pull off there plan. Things are going well except that a local cool Dude Rusty Rave (Michael East) keeps is creating a rivalry with Fleckman. They vie for the attention of beauty Mitzy Nussbaum (Colleen Nash) and Fez does well until he mentions Rave's name and then she comes to her senses and Fez has to re hypnotize her. Eventually there is a hip dual between the two for her affection. The Alien plans go wrong and Rave saves the day. The references in this film were fun as I watched I tried to name the other movies this one was quoting, but again the script was a bit unfocused. It makes sense in an Ed Wood kind of way. Writer / Director Michael Kallio does only a fair job here but should get some real points for getting this fun film made. It certainly looks like a good first early career outing.
Rating (5.2)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sleep Dealers (2008) - Science Fiction

The Boston Science Fiction Film Festival - This new event connected to the Boston Science Fiction Marathon Feb. 14-15 noon to noon is a wonderful addition. Each night from now until the Marathon there will be a feature or a night of Shorts at 7pm at the Somerville theater. I encourage you to look into getting tickets for these event, if the rest of the movies are even half the quality of Sleep Dealers it will be a treat for anyone who comes.

Sleep Dealers (2008)
- The setting for this film is a near future in Oaxaca Mexico, a young man named Memo (Luis Fernando Pena) is dissatisfied with his life. He seems destined to follow his father as an existence farmer on a small piece of family land. Once a more prosperous man his father now barely get by. The change on his fortunes came when the water source for the valley was privatized and the river dammed. Now the family pays most of their earnings for water to grow just enough food to live on. Here are a couple of very interesting ideas in the movie. The traditional turned upside down by a futuristic and not too unrealistic idea about resource management. Milpa farming of corn, beans and squash have been a tradition in Mexico through its history and the movie takes the time to recognize this. It is not using the location to exploit the character but to give a sense of them in the story to come. Memo sees this change with the dam as a trap and struggles with his father's idea about living on his own land at such a disadvantage. He would rather be somewhere else earning more money.
On his self constructed radio intercepting radio he hears the voices of people talking about working in the north for the Sleep Dealers. They are companies who import labor through virtual factories. Employees have implants that allow them to plug into a network that routes them to control machines in the United States. The labor force never has to actually be in the US, from the factories the workers all standing in a room can slaughter pigs in Iowa, to build a skyscraper in San Diego. Hearing about the success of the workers compared to sustenance farming is appealing to Memo. He listens in the evenings and dreams about a new life in the day.
One night while listening in of the airwaves he intercepts the signals of the US drone air force. This branch of the military is in charge of flying drone aircraft to enemy targets and destroying them. It has been popularized in a television show and unfortunately for Memo they trace his signal. This was another very interesting idea that is current but the movie takes to the next incarnation. No longer does the military just fight wars, but have been expanded into a corporate strike force protecting resources around the world being ship to the United States. They intercept the signal from Memo's house and put it on the list for investigation. When the drones arrive controlled by Rudy (Jacob Vargas) a new pilot serving in the military following in his families footsteps. A bit cliche for movies but certainly true for many servicemen of today. Rudy is commanded to blow up Memo's home, unfortunately Memo's father is in the house. Memo is at his uncles and sees the Drones show live and runs to try to save his father. The house is bombed and his father crawls out and looks into the drone camera, Rudy is ordered to kill him and does.
Two stories begin at this point, Rudy filled with doubt and guilt wants to know more about the man he killed and Memo without his father's will to hold him decides he must go north to earn money for his family.
We follow Memo as he moves north and meets a girl on a bus named Luz Martinez (Leonor Varela). She is a young woman who earns a living, collecting and selling her memories. She takes an interests in Memo and when she uploads her memories of him she is found by Rudy online. He thinking this young man is part of the story of his kill asks her to continue to collect information about Memo's father show he can be sure. There are again some very interesting ideas at play in Luz's relationship with Memo. On one hand she is doing business but because we are human she is also making emotional connections. The idea that she sells her memories of him is cold, but the thing this market finds valuable is that human connection. I think social networking is similar to this. In one way it is a superficial connection to more people on a daily basis but it also gives us more chances at actually making more deep connections if we choose to use it that way. Being human ultimately is about meaningful emotional interaction, we strive for that and feel healthy in our lives when it can happen. Social networks although allowing us to avoid deep contact also give us more opportunities to pursue them if we choose to.
Memo and Luz develop a fine relationship, she helps him get the implants he needs to work for the Sleep Dealers and gives him a friend in a strange place. He works and send money back to his family. Rudy learns that this is indeed the son of the man he kills and that he was not a terrorist and begins to doubt his mission. He decides to travel to Mexico and meet Memo. The storyline with Memo explores his work and draws a very nice parallel he is like the water in his home village a resource being drained by a foreign power for its gain but not a mutual one. Is this the solution the corporate world is looking for in our free market society? A workforce that is just a resource but not people?
The film climaxes with the meeting of Memo and Rudy and the interactions contained in that powerful relationship. Rudy agrees to do anything for Memo to somehow make up for his horrible error. I won't go into it here but it was satisfying.
Rating (9.3)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Phoenix the Warrior (1988) - Action

Phoenix the Warrior (1988) - The copy of this I have is titled "She Wolves of the Wasteland" waste being the significant word fragment here. This late eighties post apocalyptic adventure is about a world that is lacking men, in fact other than two characters the entire cast is women, with big eighties hair and a severe lack of appropriate clothing. It is a world where one woman, the Reverend Mother (Shiela Howard) runs a desert shanty town of gun toting leotard draped warriors. She is a wheelchair bound hag with wires and tubes sprouting from her head set on controlling the last sperm in the world and building her perfect world. When one of her experiments escapes, the pregnant Keela (Peggy McIntaggart) she is hunted by the Reverend Mother's team lead by Cobalt (Persis Khambatta). Helped by travelling warrior Phoenix (Kathleen Kinmont) Keela escapes. This starts a strange jumping through time adventure where the viewer is repeatedly subject to scenes of women walking across the desert, interspersed with them being found and the worst choreographed fight scenes I have seen in a long time. They escape the first time by finding a cave in the desert that leads to an oasis where women warriors bath topless in a waterfall. They are identified by the white paint masks across there eyes. Suddenly it is nine months later and Keela is giving birth. Then the bad girls find them and so we are not confused they have red paint on their faces, a battle ensues and only Phoenix and Keela and the baby boy escape. Suddenly it is five years later and the women decide to try to get to some island, so more walking across the desert. They are again found and the dune buggies are sent out to get them. They hide in a shack, and wow there is a man there, he escaped from the Reverend Mother years before. Soon more silly fighting takes place, Phoenix is captured while the other three escape. Phoenix becomes a gladiator while her friends set out to rescue her. They do and this time there are driving across the desert scenes since they steal a car. They head to the wastelands where they are caught by some deformed mutant people who worship the TV Guide. The men are sent back to the Reverend Mother while Phoenix and Keela are left as sacrifices to the Guide. The women escape with the help of another former gladiator who just happens to be tracking them. Then the three women head back to save the boy child and man. There is the inevitable battle between Cobalt and Phoenix, Keela confronts the Reverend Mother to save her child, and we learn that all the people of this time are actually the children of the Mother. She is rebuilding humankind, why we are not sure, and why she chose the desert, or to be militant are questions we just can't answer here. In the end though, Keela wins and the Mother is no more. There are now two very lucky men in the world, End Credits.
Rating (3.2)

The Hangover (2009) - Comedy

The Hangover (2009) - After so much time and so many people saying how great this comedy was I finally pulled it down and gave it a watching. Now before we start with the summary let me be honest about me and comedy. We have a hot/cold relationship, so much depends on the mood I am in when I see a comedy, what I find funny on one day I don't on a different day. Except Monty Python which is wacky fun at a funeral. This night I was in a very good mood and so found myself enjoying this story of four guys trying to piece together a drunken night in Las Vegas. It is a collection of revelatory bits, why is there a tiger in the bathroom, where did that baby come from? Where is Doug (Justin Bartha), is his wedding really in a few hours? We follow Doug's three friends ( Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifinakis) as they try to piece together the night before, find Doug and get him to his wedding on time. Spoiler: It was Mike Tyson's tiger! Slowly one clue leads to another until they save their friend from the roof of the Hotel, return the Tiger, have self realizations and make it to the wedding. Along the way there are some truly funny bits.
Rating (6.6)