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Monday, February 10, 2014

Boston Sci-fi Festival Day 3

Boston Sci-fi Festival Day 3 - Third day and already I am feeling a bit tired so far there has been a whole lot of science fiction although I missed LFO:The Movie I have seen everything else which is a good 14 hours of viewing if you include the questions and answers. Then on top of that I went out drinking Friday night with Directors Ethan Shaftel and Dennis Nicholson after the Friday viewings so I lost some sleep there too. Now saying that so far everything has been totally worth it. The quality of the festival films has been excellent and the mood around the events very positive. So I came in for Day 3 and another six hours of material determined that I would make the 7 pm showing of Inverse (2012) instead of getting pushed to the 9 pm showing because frankly reviewing films is not my first job and I get in to work around six in the morning so another really late night would be a killer. I would have stayed too since the buzz around the showing of Inverse was loud. It was a premiere and a whole lot of people connected to the film were flying is to join us in the viewing. So I had to be on my toes to get in there early and get a seat.

SOS:Save our Skins (2013) - One of the great things about science fiction is that it is a fertile field for growing comedy. In the festival there have been too many examples to recount of very popular showings of off beat science fiction based comedies. The above mentioned LFO is one example of the comedy in this year's program and SOS is another. This British comedy is about two guys from across the pond who come to New York to attend a science fiction convention. When they wake up after a long flight and sleep they find they are the only people in the city, everyone has vanished. early on I was reminded of "Night of the Comet" but this film is not the same. Then with the look and interaction between the two main characters Ben (Nat Saunders) and Stephen (Chris Hayward) I was reminded of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in Shaun of the Dead, or any other buddy film they did. This film was smart enough to later have a gag where they meet their Canadian doppelganger geek pair showing that it is either making fun of geeks or acknowledging that we have seen this before. I liked the references thrown into the film making it very festival friendly as the clods muddle about trying to figure out what is going on. When they find their first other human survivor, I made a note that I predict that everyone one was taken off the earth except the stupid and crazy people and was so right on that. It may have been a bit too telegraphed but hey the film is entertaining so no big deal. The film is funny and does not hold back with the comedy or the wildness of the plot. There is nothing too revolutionary here but it is designed to tickle and the film does that.  I really appreciated instead of making a nice mildly funny buddy movie they went for a giant end of the world alien intervention film that pushed limits.

Slam Man
Ike Interviews God
North Bay
Game Companion
Bar Talk

Slam Man by Alfred Thomas Catalfo wrote and directed this amusing infomercial for a robot workout buddy who teaches you boxing while keeping you in shape. Pushing the idea at the end to additional functionality was a nice add on.
Starving by Michele De Caro is about a bank robbery in the midst of a viral zombie outbreak. Where the lead has the antidote he figures while the chaos is happening he will takes some easy money. Greed never really pays though.
Ike Interviews God by Eli Shapiro The most average man in the world gets to interview God and with this comedic situation is a meaningful satire on our human environmental crisis of climate change.
North Bay by Adam Grabarnick is the story of a scientist Sachin Fayez (Jamie Harris) who has a strange theory about adding ideas to the DNA of living things by pushing the ideas into the ether. We share his frustration and success this interesting short about perseverance.
Ascendants by Don Schechter an intriguing story exploring the effects on society if first the afterlife was confirmed to exist and then that only some people are going to get to it. When a simple blood test can tell your outcome how will that information affect you. This one certainly got me thinking and I wondered about the character wanting to give up on life when knowing the afterlife was to come. Would believers when they KNOW there is an afterlife, instead of having faith would cut ties with this life to get to that destination. Or would those destined for more stay in a more solid calm state of being because the doubt of their faith is now relieved? And on the other hand if you are a nonbeliever and you find out suddenly that there is an afterlife you are destined for what effect will that have on your psyche. Blows your worldview out of the water, and even if you are not going to the afterlife as a nonbeliever you now have new evidence that there is something else. Anyway very thought provoking subject.
Game Companion by Jeff James Monson and Brian Morelan a comedic short about reaching the Master level of a fighting video game, when a real companion comes out of the game the guys who get these living avatars are in for more than they can handle. Cute.
Bar Talk - by Lowell Northrop and Joe R. Lansdale,  A wonderful uncomfortable conversation between an invading Martian spy talking to and taking advantage of a gruff guy in a bar. The twist is worth weeding through the conversation.

Inverse (2014) - There was a great deal energy in the room for the premiere of Inverse. Actors, producers, director, family and friends came from all over the country to be there for this film. It was positive and friendly with people recognizing each other and reacquainting themselves with people they have not seen in a while. The one hundred fifty or so seats in the theater were filled and the introductions made with an excitement this festival can appreciate. Producers Stephanie Bell and Trever Boelter talked about their pleasure in premiering the film in the Boston area and all the connections that different people have to the area. They recognized the people who funded the film and the hard work of the cast and crew, and plugged the composer Austin Wintory for his fine score. Then the lights went down in the capacity theater and the film started.
  The tale written and directed by Matt Duggan unwinds as a love story between two people who should have never met. Tragic and and compelling the story is about two realities, one where mankind has developed the intelligence to cross into the world closer to our own. Where both world have versions of the same people there is a compelling desire for the people in the advanced world (the Primary) to view the selves in the less advanced world (the Echo). There are rules about not interacting in any way. Set up some cameras and observe but no interaction is allowed.
  The plot centers around Primary Arquin (Josh Wingate) who is accidentally observed by his echo Arquin to the echo's detriment. This "mistake" sets off a trail of poor decision making that risks Primary Arquin, where he falls in love with the wife of the deceased echo Veronica (Michelle Lawrence) and through those boundary flaws creates a situation that governments in both realities must attempt to contain. The struggle between the heart against the desire of the authorities to contain the situation is the main driver in this film. Well executed with very good acting and a story that is both compelling and exciting the film is certainly worth seeking out. Duggan creates a good (pair of) villains in Albert (Chris Pauley) agents on both realities who on the echo side wants the secrets that the primaries can provide. On the primary side the equally ruthless Albert hunts down primaries who have broken the rules.
An excellent entry into our festival in scope and subject matter the film left me with many questions about the "primary" world and how they became such voyeurs how they came to have that technology. That world would be a great area for further exploration. The way the character acted shows that although the primary world is more intelligent they have yet to master the emotion we both world share. Seek this one out if it gets a release.


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