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Friday, February 13, 2015

BSFFF Day 5: Shorts and a feature

Ghost Light (2014) - The story is an alien abduction piece done with the style of an old time horror comic book. All the way to framing a drawing and then having it come to life in the frame. Reminiscent of the Creepshow (1982) film. The style works for the most part in this tale about a father and son in the wrong place at the wrong time. The acting is solid and the pacing good. It does not feel like any new ground was covered in the twenty minutes of running time but what was done was professional and fit the scifi theme perfectly.
Abandoned Planet (2014) - Sad to say I never really connected with this short about an earth abandoned by the wealthy leaving the pleebs on the ground to strip mine the resources and send them to the wealthy's space paradise. Those left on earth always wish to save enough to leave to the space colony Gaia but few ever save enough. The story centers around Corus (William Morse) who has enough to make the trip but after meeting as beautiful rebel Fina (Angela Henderson) is pulled away from his dream on the verge of its realization. So was the earth better with less people, or was the message that women always get in the way of your dreams? Hard to say but I know the premise that the earth would go to shift if most of the population left strikes me as odd.

Valiant (2014) - A very entertaining short adventure about some air pirates who after having a child princess on their plane have a change of heart from cold killing criminals to less cold more warm hearted protectors of a child. Writer Director Robin Phillips pulls all the right strings with this nice little picture.

Memorable Minorities (2014) - Humorous look at how minorities are portrayed in science fiction.

Grave Shivers (2014) - I liked this one quite a bit with three short stories within a film that is only 14 minutes. Writer / Director Brent Sims does a lot in the small amount of running time. First there is the valiant teddy bear protecting his owner. then the dark tale of a pedophile whose attempt to lure a girl scout goes horribly wrong. Finally finishing with my favorite. A dad looking under the bed for monsters gets way more than he bargained for. The shot of the little girl jumping on the bed at the end is a excellently framed final take away.

Indigo Grey (2014) - A very cool mix of Irish step clog dancing and science fiction. (You just don't get to write that line every day) A small boy finds a gas mask that when he puts it on gets to look into an alternate reality. A very neat performance piece, totally worth a watch.

Parallel (2015) - Time travel is a risky but tried and true was into the Sci-fi genre. Risky because there are some pretty hard lined opinions among us Sci-fi geeks about what makes or break this kind of storyline. Can you travel into the past and the future? What if you change something in the past? What happens to the future when a person from the present interacts there? Is it linear where from that point forward the time traveler from the past is included in the history of the future? Or does that fact that the person traveled into the future mean that it is part of a multiverse and a new parallel universe is created by the action? It is a tough nut to crack and every film maker must try to form an idea for themselves, explain it reasonable and the follow the ramifications of that explanation to its logical conclusion. There is also the risk of over explaining so the writer must find a way to give a reason it can happen and the not get so detailed that some nerd out there wants to find every hole in the theory possible.
  In this feature by Keith Nickoson and John Turk there is a reasonable setup for the time travel. Making the inventor a mathematician gives credibility to the idea and also having a time machine physically on screen is a bonus. Just exotic enough to not be seen as a computer but not too elaborate. Artistic alien digits looping up around a large glowing crystal and a base of lights and electronic looking machines below the crystal. The math is never deeply delved into leaving the audience to make the leap on their own, but enough props formulas are scene to make it look complicated.
  At its heart though this is a story about characters. The time traveler Vincent Jefferies (Terence Cranendonk) is a man who has experience loss. He is grieving and unable to move on with his life after the loss of his wife and unborn child in a car accident. His desire as he says in the voice over narration of the letter he his reading her his need, his driving force is to go back in time and change a small thing so that the accident never happened. Vincent eventually gets part of his wish when he discovers a limited form of time travel. It has larger implications because the math that he used was to create this travel just into the future was sent to him by him in the future. So he knows two things from this; one is that time travel to the past will someday be possible  and two he will be there. This second one means he has to travel into the future to make it possible. Very clever. His decision to cut ties from this reality and leap into the unknown of parallel universes is just the beginning. So set on this path Vincent fails to allow the beautiful and obviously interested Kera (Liz DuChez) from denting his cool exterior.
  This time travel idea was more interesting than the often used travel to the past that as unforeseen consequences in the present. Add in some navigation problems and Vincent does not always end up in quite the place he suspected. So then he must seek out the location of his machine in the time he is in and continue his search.
  There is a belief in the world that there is a soul mate for everyone  somewhere in the universe. Many people through chance may never meet that person who is a perfect fit. For Vincent he thinks is late wife was that woman and so the advances of Kera are following on deaf airs. As the then runs into versions of Kera over and over during his travels into time it must mean that this is a person, a soul that should be something more for him, but will he reconcile the past and notice? Still unable to travel to the past he is driven to search the future for the day that reverse time travel is possible. He has so many opportunities to reconcile his tragedy and move on with Kera it got a little bit frustrating waiting for him. All Keras were really patient with him and he is so single minded it got a bit frustrating.
  There are a couple things that drag this movie back from being very good. First the single mood of the score never lets there be enough variance in atmosphere meaning the mood feels like it does not change enough. Second is that not enough physical action takes place this is primarily a talker of a film and could have used something to break up what is a sparse script as far as action. Lastly the level of interpersonal conflict between characters would have made this film better. I think primarily the film is good but there is only a problem to be solved without characters to impede the progress towards solving it. Sure it is designed as an internal struggle For Vincent I just think it would have benefited by more interpersonal struggle. Still overall a decent entry into this years festival.

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