Goliad Uprising (2012) - When the star of Goliad Uprising, Shannon Lark, @ShannonLark, started following me on Twitter I thought it appropriate to review something she is in. This is a risky thing as someone who writes about movies I never expect the people who make the movies to see what I jot down. In fact I am shocked anyone reads my drivel. It also created a dilemma for me, What if I did not like the film? What if Miss Lark was offended by my views. Now certainly I don't know the actress but I would feel horrible if I hurt any feelings. Performance is such a personal act and there is know way to perform without connecting to the piece you are doing so each performance has a place. Still I have studied enough screenwriting to know my way around a script. I am a huge science fiction fan and really wanted to see this film when I read about it. So I am bucking up my courage as a mediocre writer and pushing forward.
This film if it has not already been submitted should be submitted to the Boston Science Fiction Festival, it will fit right in and the festival is a wonderful opportunity to for films to be seen by hardcore science fiction fans. The Festival is in February so there is plenty of time to submit. Miss Lark is a director, writer, producer and actress is the founder of the Viscera Organization. I first saw her in the dark and wonderfully done film Ludlow by Stacie Ponder.
The film takes place in the near future where there are security forces controlling the people in their everyday lives. Local and national security forces work to keep order and enforce the smallest functions of daily living. In this society is also the latest technology, the Goliad BCI (Brain Computer Interface) a stylish blue tooth looking device that allows the user direct internet and media access through a connection in the brain. It is the iphone of the time with people standing in line for hours to be the first to receive the new version.
Like all things technological there is a downside to their existence, in this case the BCI is the first step in controlling the perceptions of those wearing it. Goliad Corporation run by a character we know as Brian is developing a perception modifying software version for the device. Described as being able to change what people think and feel and see. It could make the smog of Los Angeles look like blue sky to those wearing it. The social implications of this software is not lost on this viewer and it is also not lost on our main character Ariel (Shannon Lark).
After an earlier scene establishing Ariel as part of a group of anti government artists who are hounded by security forces for reading poetry, we get to properly meet the character Ariel looking for her phone in a dumpster. (I meet so many women this way.) David (Aaron Weisinger) a janitor at the Goliad company meets her there and assists in helping her find her phone. It is a clever little sequence where she uses his phone to call hers, but also giving her a number in her history to get back in touch with him later. Later when he receives a text from her to meet he thinks he is getting a date. Showing up it seems he was wrong as she is organizing a reading performance and sending those who received her text to a secret location. She brings him along for the ride forever changing the lowly janitors life.
Ariel and David need to flee when again the party is raided and in so doing are tied together as fugitives the more they are seen together. David starts picking up that the company he works for has dark plans for the people wearing their device and through the seductive flirtation with Ariel soon is involved with her plans to let the world know. She is a wanted women and he by association is on the run too. They seem to be running out of places to hide as the Goliad BCI's everyone is wearing are putting the idea that freedom of speech is a bad thing. So to say something against the government is attacked by those who are wearing them.
I found this particular piece interesting, as it reminded me of the time just after 9/11 when the Bush administration and the Republicans were pushing the idea that speaking out against their plans to invade Iraq was "Un-American". Also that criticizing the government was not tolerable either with cages called free speech zones at political events. The passing of the Patriot Act which has curtailed the freedoms of Americans was passed in the years after and has been affirmed by both Democrat and Republican parties since trying to limit freedom of speech as is the idea in this film. The scene where the older woman stands at a press conference, holding an anti BCI sign only to be pulled from the room was so reminiscent of those years. I wondered if the writer / director Paul Bright started coming up with the ideas for this story around that time.
The weakest part of the script is the idea that transmitting the anti government poetry is the solution to the problem. David risks everything to upload a virus that will allow them to broadcast to all the Galiad headsets this performance piece. Now I am in with most people in seeing art as freeing, but to think that changing the minds of millions only takes a poem is a bit of a stretch. I had to rewatch looking to see if I missed something but could not find any plans besides the broadcast for this whole plan, Really? You have an opportunity to not only get your message out but to put the idea that people should not ever wear these devices again and you stop at artistic performance? Since they change people's perceptions you can make them repulsed by the idea that these things should be worn but instead it is art war? I have to say I did not like that idea.
I did like the relationship twists of Ariel and Brian (Played by the writer), and of Helen (Cynthia Schiebel) and Michael the workers at the Galiad software division. I also got the idea that Paul Bright has worked in the software field. Being a software QA engineer myself I appreciated the very clear development processed they used at the company. The command to know about IP masking, proxy, and geolocation was also appreciated. I also laughed out loud when Brian Tells Helen to take a risk and get the new version of the software released without QA. Okay enough computer geeking out.
This seemed like a very low budget production, with the primary gimmick to make us think that it is not present time is that a lot of people wear hats and gloves. I found it a bit distracting and it was probably not necessary. Some of the set design also stuck out, from plastic being hung around the house parties to the T-shirts pinned to the wall in Davids bedroom. I wished more though was put into this aspect of the film. By the way no guy is going to pin a tee to his bedroom wall that says "Our dreams are beautiful, our fate is sad."
The character development worked for the most part with solid enough acting from the main players. The idea of David taking care of the mouse seemed well thought out in seeing him as a caring individual in a cruel world. Lark was impressive in her seductive manipulative role. She needed to breathe sensuality while playing on the emotions of David and I think she pulled it off. Some of the dialog was uneven between the characters but I wondered if it had more to do with the writing. Dialog is such a hard component of screen writing and where these characters were getting to know each other while pushing forward a lot of information it made some of the emotions of the characters seem uneven. Moving from one emotion to another too quickly is probably how I would put it.
Overall I liked the film but the weak central solution and low production values will hurt it with larger audiences. People looking for really polished cinematography and set design will have a hard time watching this. So this will barely get a recommend from me since the primary sci-fi ideas are solid and the twists pretty decent. What's the difference between a film running through the genre circuits and a nationwide hit? About 60 million dollars.
Rating (5.5) 5.0 and up are recommended, some more recommended than others.