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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Boston Scifi Festival Day 6

Boston Scifi Festival Day 6 - After my short day yesterday and with an impending snowstorm for Thursday I decided to stay for all three programs on Wed. night. Working at home during the storm I could sleep in a bit after staying out so late. I am really glad I did, not only were the shorts high quality but both featured films were worth seeing. I know I have mentioned it already but if you are sitting at home and not visiting the festival because you are afraid that because so much is offered a lot must be shit you are making a mistake. I have been through the first six days and seen 90% of the material and I can count on one hand the number of things I didn't think were good. That does not even mean they were not quality, sometimes even though something is well made you just don't connect with it. So go over to and look at what is left. Tickets to individual features and shorts programs are available so see you there.

5pm THE PARALLAX VISTA: Shorts Program
Mis-drop (2013) - by Ferand Peek, This is a cool little short showing a future war and a soldier going to war for the first time. Soldiers are dropped in some kind of metal suit capsule, when they land they release themselves and and off into battle. What was cool about this short were the levels it contained both visually and within the characters this one soldier interacts with. The setup is someone is reviewing the last days of a soldier to see if his surviving relatives will be given his bonus after his death. So the outer screen of the film is a futuristic computer screen. The primary shot, as the recordings of his first and last drop play is of a soldier's face as he is strapped into the capsule by a tech, all the interactions he has are seen as reflection on the glass surface of his head gear. We get a complete story of a young, who is jeered and tricked by his fellow soldiers with a rookie prank. His interaction with the commanding officer as she is also found to be a one night stand of his. Reflections of the drop from space and the battle ground, is all very clever and really well done.
The Sound of Trains - by Jordan Bradley and Travis Champagne from a story by James Crawford.  An alien abduction film starring Daniel Baldwin which was very professionally done if the story is standard fair. Mood is creepy and strange and it sounds pretty damn good. I suppose the part that makes it different than every other alien abduction film is that there is forewarning of the event by the aliens who do in fact return.
Base: 05 - directed by Roy Rossovich and written by Alexandra Backstrom is a short tale of an astronaut Kate Walker (May Charters) who also produced,  as she wanders on what looks like a distant planet. All the time having memory problems from the heat of the sun. A cute twist makes this somewhat enjoyable.
One Small Step for a Man by Marcus Round  Well seeing an eleven year old kid in an astronauts suit getting hired to a corporate job all I could think it was a metaphor for how we grow up and leave those dreams of traveling to the stars behind. Of course the main character "The Boy" (Sam Krause) is holding onto his dream while going about life. Very interesting little short.
The Sons of Two Suns (2013) - by S.A. Zaidi, The end of the world as seen by three people in Dubai. After we end up with two suns the world is about to burn. Mohammad Nash and Ana head off to a rumored shelter through the deserted streets of Dubai each with a unique approach to the end. Beautifully shot with cinematography by Ghanem Ghubash with a surreal feel it could be an alien planet. The film is unique as Dubai film almost exclusively focuses on drama and romance it is said to be pushing limits in a country where media can be heavily censored.
Ash (2013) - If you were in a space station when life on earth ended how long would you stay before going down? A crew of astronauts deal with this situation in Ally Cunningham's Ash. Having exhausted everything in the capsule James (Joshua Parad), Reese (Cynthia Henderson) and Davis (Dick Furnas) must decide between returning to earth, dying on the space station when the power fails or taking a third unexpected route. Torn between memories of home and the situation at hand each crew member must find a way to a decision. Good acting first movie credits for all but you wouldn't notice and nice effects.
Le Blue Stella (2013) -  by Peter Ferris Rosati: Tale of boy friendship told through the lense of a space fantasy that really captured childhood friendship.
Load (2013) - by Paul-Anthony Navarro A young woman (Anneke Harger) alone in a boarded up house at the end of the world. Violence outside and fear in her isolation play out in a very smart story with a creative science fiction turn. Really well done.

POINT B (2014) - Directed by Conor Long and Written by David Gitlin Point B is about four graduate students in a college physics department who while working on a clean energy device stumble upon a way to make a teleportation device. Mark (David Fetzer) is the designer and programmer, Jason (Josh McLerran) builds it, helping out is Andrew (Eric Fisher) and financing is Alan (Jared Shipley). The dialog is sharp and witty and the filming is stylish with an pseudo 80s musical score that works really well in this film. You get the style right away with the opening credits the lights music and fades to the actors as their credits role is really well done. Even the poster for the film has a nice throwback look.
  The story may have been out of the eighties too, not the teleportation part but what happens after it. In fact the makers of the film in the Q &A joke about this film needing to be a comedy because of its similarities to the film Primer (2004) shit has it already been ten years? The basic route of "We make a really amazing discovery." to " We have to perfect it" to "A big corporation wants to buy it." and  "Even though we need the money we can't let the evil corporate guys get it." Mix in the friendships that are strained by events and you do have a movie that was probably done before. Primer took the drama route, In 1996's Chain Reaction it becomes an action film, but here it is a comedy and I think for the most part it works. The script reminds me of the modern school of screen writing, character based, concise and well structured. A music montage of the working scientist students, a split screen travel montage. It's a bit tougher to do this in a comedy especially when you want to have gags play out but Point B never gets too long in the gag. Instead it uses dialog and sarcasm to move the comedy forward. Sharply stands out with his timing and snappy delivery.
  Because the film is a comedy it does not ask any big questions, but instead uses the characters to drive the story forward. The first question that could have been explored was after the first accidental use of the device. Should we use it again? Instead of debating the machine very quickly becomes a novelty without so much of a second thought for a couple of the characters. If taking the film as serious science fiction this could be quite a question to explore but the freedom of a comedy is you are looking for laughs not conversations about the scientific process.
The film is enjoyable with both sight gags and dialog driven comedy. The music fits the story well if a bit too on the nose during the flirting, dating scenes between Mark and Katie (Heather Murdock), really didn't need to music to tell me what was going on in those scenes. A very funny bit though when Mark appears teleported in front of Katie and she goes running off screaming never to be seen again So this film is a recommended one. Enjoy.

LOS ULTIMOS DIAS (2013)  - A very cool end of civilization premise in this all too serious drama about seeking those we love at a time of crisis. Like other films of this type, I am thinking Cloverfield except that is all about the monsters, people have to find their way across a large city to loved ones  with danger all around.. This film is more about our inner demons and what becomes important to us when the shit hits the fan. When an agoraphobia epidemic spreads across the world the people of Barcelona are stuck all across the city, in schools and office building and apartments people are forced to learn to survive without hope of rescue. Marc (Quim Gutierrez) wishes to get back to his girlfriend Julia (Marta Etura) who he hopes is still at their apartment across town. I order to do it he must convince  Enrique (Jose Coronado) the company's "butcher" (man in charge of reducing the work force) to work with him. Starting as reluctant allies they break into the subway tunnels from the basement of the building and journey together forming a bond through their adventures.
It has been months since the world has gone off its rocker and societal norms have broken down. The tunnels under the city are full of danger and the two must learn to trust and rely on each other to make it through. Each man is fighting the decisions they have made and wish to find love ones in this horrible time of crisis. Marc wants to see his girl again and Enrique his father who is hospitalized across the city. Through the subways and the sewers the two journey and fight through hardship with the aide of a car GPS and a flashlight and using all their wits and strength. By the time each realizes that his goal will be harder than he thought they have a bond that has come from days of hard fought battles together. When Marc finally reaches the Mall where his girlfriend works and meets her friend Andrea (Leticia Dolera) he finds he must continue on as she is not there. When he finally finds her but is separated by a collapsed tunnel, and an open street to cross the film becomes a bit predictable. I would call the ending a Hollywood ending that really does not add to the story and should have probably been left off. Still I think film makers David Pastor and Alex Pastor wanted to send the message that human kind will always survive. Its very interesting that these two also wrote Carriers (2009) a very similar film. Where a group travels to a childhood vacation home to avoid a plague that is ravaging society.
I really enjoyed this film the acting was excellent and the screenplay complete. A scenario that I had not thought of but the gritty dark nature of the survival aspects had me enthralled from the start. A good mix of interpersonal drama and desperate action the film is well rounded and engaging.  I wish Dolera the lead in the wonderful horror flick [Rec]3 had a bigger part since she is both beautiful and talented. The two leads Gutierrez and Coronado are excellent one playing the guilty boyfriend and the other a desperate man who does not want to die alone. So this film is has a hardy recommendation from me.

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