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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Boston Scifi Festival Day 4

Boston Scifi Festival Day 4 - Because of this being a work week I am afraid I could only cover the 5pm and 7pm films. I just can't get home after the 9pm feature and still get up for work in the morning. As we settle into the week the crowds of the weekend are gone and the audience reverts back to being the diehard science fiction fans (for the most part) even still the micro theater was filled on a Monday night. Technical glitches took a bit of time in the beginning but pretty soon we were off and running. I know I've mentioned issues with equipment a couple of times but you have to understand that the number of formats that film is being delivered in has expanded over the last ten years. We are seeing things on film, on DVD, Bluray, from hard drives, flash drives and streaming. It is difficult for one facility to provide all the connections and projection attachments for all the different formats and we are lucky the Somerville Theater is pretty complete in the hardware available. Sometimes though it takes a bit of time to get something playing correctly. The multiple formats can actually come to benefit the festival, like on the first day when the initial set of shorts could not be played from the laptop. A couple of the directors were there to present alternative ways to show their shorts saving that section from total reschedule. As the Festival grows I am sure there will have to be a "technical wrangler" whose job it is to make sure every showing has the technical accompaniments it needs to play the submissions. With the problems mostly solved within 15 minutes we were on to the nights entertainment.

5pm
Arbor Day (2013) - by Samuel Clemons Long, Is that his real name? Did he get named after Mark Twain? The film after most of the sound issues were solved was book-ended in one time while the middle part of the story was in the past. I have always liked this story structure, but the key to it is that when you return for the second cover of the book that story must have consequences that come from the middle tale. This story does just that and is a pretty cool little tale. The film starts with an old man and his son pulling up to a trailer in the middle of no where. The woman and her son sitting outside are nervous as the two man come up to beg for a bit of food in return for a story. When it is agreed Thomas (Ron Shedd) tells his tale about a family with a secret and how one year it went horribly wrong. I am not going to spoil the film because this is a short you should take time to see. I will say though that after the middle story that is a cool idea, that sets up the ending. The middle story has some very cool practical effects shots that are worthy to note. If there is a weakness in the film it probably is that the connection between the characters in the middle give us a mythology without really explaining how the family became connected to it and what the consequences of not accomplishing the deed that is passed down. The ending is quick and final and at the end I was pretty satisfied. The film was made for under 10 thousand dollars has some good ideas and the execution is competent. Check it out.

Science Team (2014) - by Drew Bolduc is an off beat comedic science fiction movie that relies on the absurd and vulgar to shock and amuse the audience. It reminds us that "nothing evil has ever come from science." and that there is always a place for practical gore effects. Science Team features a strong main character in Chip (Vito Trigo) a depressed and manic man with a serious anger management problem. After breaking up with his girlfriend he walks back to his Mother's house (in his bathrobe) only to find her dead and a sessile (fixed in one place) alien in the next room. This is a good setup and I think the actor carried quite a bit of presence. In fact the best scenes in the film are when he is involved. Taking away from the movie is the odd and slapstick comedy of the titular team that comes to investigate the alien creature. Built as an incompetent group connected to the government but not quite professional it is lead by a wheel chaired character  Dick Willington (Matt Chodoronek) who seems a strange mix of  Dr. Strangelove and Inspector Kemp from Young Frankenstein, the character is played hard for comedic effect. His team are a bunch of pink jumpsuit wearing science nerds carrying odd equipment with no apparent actual scientific training. It the absurdity that the film maker is going for and that is delivered. The "away team" lead by Joey Tweed (Richard Spencer) with assistant Elizabeth (Emily Marsh) bungle their way through supposed scientific inquiries that really do not yield any results. They are there to move a story forward that is based on sight gags and reaction shot to vulgarity. Hitting gags, Chip sneaking up and killing pink suits, a stabbing sequence that should have a stab counter are all thrown together in long shots that only add to the discomfort of the film. (that's the audiences discomfort). It is a bit of a juvenile effort at comedy which at least for me did not work. Maybe if I was stoned and 16 it would have been more appealing. That's the thing though not every movie in a festival is going to be for everyone. This one was not for me, I did appreciate the gory practical effects though I just wish the comedy was based on being more clever and less rude.

Bunker 6 - Written and Directed by Greg Jackson,  from the IMDB summary: "In an alternate timeline where the atomic bombs go off in 1962, young Grace enters a whole new sheltered existence. 10 years later, the nuclear bunker she calls home is crumbling around her." This fine feature is the struggle for the courage to move past fear and start living again. Grace (Andrea Lee Norwood) is saved as a child by a plant engineer Lewis (Daniel Lillford) when the bombs go off and lives the next ten years learning how to keep the bunker running. She is waiting for the day it is safe to leave the bunker when the light above the door goes from red to green. Fixed in her routine we see her with the small group of survivors as the one who will inherit the responsibility of keeping the bunker running when the sickly Lewis finally dies. With her in this space are Eric (Jim Fowler), Joe (Glen Mathews), Mary (Shelley Thompson), and Alice (Molly Dunsworth). Jackson pulls a very clever visual trick early in the film when he shows Grace passing a young blonde girl who could be Alice as she heads to the bunker. The bait and switch is great for creating the later reality of the film and I appreciated it. After ten years and with the death of Lewis the group starts to come apart at the seams.
 Eric starts talking about opening the door even though each time Grace looks the red light still indicates it is not safe to leave. Alice the strong willed one is determined to keep the group inside and will psychologically bully anyone who risks their safety. Grace who inherits the key to outside is torn between knowing that outside is a big and possibly dangerous place with her need to escape the bunker which increasingly is breaking down. Haunted also by seeing the deaths of her parents she must reconcile all her feeling in order to continue forward without her best friend. This film is smart and effective in what it is trying to do so I will not go into specifics other than to say that internal conflict spur the discussions and arguments about when it will be safe to leave the bunker. Tempers flair and power struggles must be resolved before a decision is made, alliances are made and broken but in the end it is up to Grace to make the decision. What will she choose?
  This was a very good entry into the festival, well acted with a twist that can not be revealed here. In fact it was one of my favorites features in the entire festival. The script is well executed by Jackson and I anticipate some success for this film in the future. Filmed in an actually government fallout bunker near Halifax N.S. the film has a wonderful claustrophobic feel. The music by David Chisholm carried the tension of the film and was really a complement to the script. I will fully recommend this film if you get the chance to see it.

 

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