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Monday, February 10, 2014

Boston Sci-fi Festival Day 2


Boston Sci-fi Festival Day 2 - Saturday was the first of the long days of the festival, starting at 3pm and having features and shorts through the night. I did not get home until past midnight so we we see if that destroys what little quality I have in my writing. The festival is a success! In fact we were pulling out folding chairs in the Micro theater and still leaving people standing in the aisles. It may be that next year it will be difficult to use the micro theater for viewing  or having to schedule more than one showing for a program piece. Hats of to Garen Daly and his team for really getting people interested in this festival. That said this year is great also for the quality of the films, after two days mind you but so far the material has been of a very high quality.  Now I can't say I like everything I see at the festival sometimes things just don't connect to me where they are connecting to most of the audience. I think that is true for everyone though. The fact there is some real fine science fiction being made and that the submission committee has also done an excellent job at picking the best films is so far making this the best festival ever.
  Another great thing about this years festival is the number of film makers, actors and crew who have been present for their screenings and then done Q&A sessions afterwards. It adds another level to the festival experience that you just can't get otherwise. It would be great if the festival became a place where film makers who make science fiction could come together to network, hang out and see each others work. It was a really cool experience to be in the Q&A for Anomosity the last show Saturday night and have at least four other film makers there for the session.
Desolation Road - A couple bank robbers fleeing to Mexico with their loot get a flat after almost hitting a truck left in the middle of a deserted road. They get much more thanexpected as they investigate that truck. A really cool alien monster in the dark short. It was really well attended with people standing in the aisles to see it. Then when it ended a bunch of the people left meaning they came just for that one short but then did not stay for the rest. Weird?
1211 - was a really short scare film about a man looking for a little on the side at a hotel but ends up getting something totally unexpected.Good use of texting.
The Forever People - a deadly game of cat and mouse with transporting beings who grow back body parts if they are lost. Its a chase / fight sequence that fills in the sci-fi as it goes. Leaves you thinking about how they got to just doing this game.
The Argonaut - Now I was a bit bored this this contemplative piece of a woman in a room reliving memories. It seems that suicide does send a person to purgatory? Well at least that what it seemed like to me.
Step Forward - A little girl's impulse to leap before looking is punished when she finds time travel has some unexpected results.
Sleep - was an Escher painting come to life but played like a home invasion, do I have your attention now?
Strange Thing - A very cool short where a couple wakes one morning to find a door in the wall where there has never been one. The pull between curiosity and the need for caution are weighed and when curiosity wins well ask the cat how that turns out.
Strings - A musical shift in reality separates a Mother and Daughter so how can they be reunited? More singing of course. It started an interesting conversation about whether sighing in exasperation is appropriate as a response to a short.
Shift - A lone criminal builds a teleporting device so he can rob a bank. It reminds us that details are very important.

5pm Feature -
 Dust of War (2014) was a post apocalyptic alien invasion film with hints of westerns of old but ultimately did not deliver on the grand ideas it wanted to tackle. Starting mysterious and dark with characters who have roles in a larger scheme. Two bounty hunters Tom (Gary Graham) and Abel (Steven Luke) purposely get caught by a local warlord "General Chizum" (Bates Wilder) so they can have an opportunity to save a mysterious woman named Ellie (Jordan McFadden) who has a secret that will change everything. The film very is a bit of a slow go with the primary character development coming in the relationship between Tom and Abel. It is a bit of a thin go because the film wanted to hold information for the ending. Tom and Able planned to save Ellie because she was "the harbinger" the one who signals major change, but until the end you really don't know why. Even after that the reasoning could use some explaining it was like there was more story that could not be fit into this. Or maybe the film makers really wanted to leave some questions at the end. The primary plot of the film is a chase across a post apocalyptic landscape (modern day South Dakota :) ). The three main characters escape and are followed by the general and his men. Along the way they get help from former friends with the inevitable double cross. Part of what I did not connect to was a lot of this film is expected there was not a lot new in the structure. The villain does bad things to show his bad assness, the hero's past is explored although the almost mute part of Abel makes one wonder why anyone would follow him. Tom is the aging smart guy partner with quips and piss and vinegar who becomes endearing in his harsh attitude. Not that any of the acting is bad it was well acted with a couple nice smaller roles by Doug Jones as Jebediah and Tony Todd as Crispus. I was not thrilled with the really stereotyped Indian tracker role of Dark Horse (David Midthunder). We have had that role stuck into films way too many times. in the end there is not enough of a finish to leave this viewer satisfied but I think more people like the film in the audience than didn't. It was very kind of actor Bates Wilder to come to the screening with his kids and spend some time answering questions. Certainly the film fit into the science fiction genre but I think I wanted more of the sci-fi and less of the walking across the plains.

At the 7pm showing I shifted gears because my friends at All Things Horror were putting on a screening. I joined them for the shorts,
 Izzy Lee's provocative Legitimate (2013) a reasonable reaction to Sen. Tom Akin's comment about legitimate rape, who in his foolish thinking offended most of America. A mix of burlesque and horror it is a stern response to a stupid man.
 Eroticide (2013) was one I could not connect with, more mean drama than horror it was horrific in its outcome. Exploring a characters need to be dominated by a woman it is a sad tale of how humans devalue themselves in relationships and how that devaluing can lead to fetish. The male character wants to be punished and mistreated and is excited at the prospect. The domineering exgirlfriend is a mean spirited cruel power broker and the current girlfriend lacks the basic self esteem to even value her own life in the face of the other dynamic. This one was not for me.
I Am Monster (2013) - Oh my what a horrific tale of necrophelia by Shannon Lark and Lori Bowen. Stylish and sensually erotic it is a bizarre and disturbing journey into one woman's fantasy and kink. Great cinemaphotography, it looked beautiful while being so very disturbing. Lark fills the role with a gusto that probably could seduce the dead. Be prepared to have you sensibilities assaulted and left in a quivering pile in the corner.

9pm
Animosity (2013) - Because this film is a twisty type of plot I don't really want to go into too much detail about the workings of the story. Where I enjoyed the film I don't want to ruin it for any of you who should find and see it. The imdb storyline is "A newlywed couple moves into a house in the middle of woods only to discover that the surrounding forest is host to sinister supernatural powers which turn them against each other." Oh but it is so much more, certainly spacey, possibly science fiction but not really it is a journey into a phenomenon and how a group of people trying to learn about and exploit it. You could say it is supernatural horror maybe? Thea McCartan as Lauren really carries the film as the main character trying to figure out what is going on around her. The twist is pretty cool and the conversation it created with Writer / Director Brendan Steere was lively after the showing. It says something when the question and answers section that starts at 11pm goes for 35 minutes. A vague similarity to Solaris (1972) but not really either it is a pretty original take on a supernatural experience with the plot centering around how a group of people try to exploit it and there cruel experimentation. If you get a chance to see it I think you may like it.

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