Thursday, September 8, 2016

Bag Man

Today's short film is called BAG MAN, and it was Written and Directed by Jonathan and Josh Baker, who I assume are related, possibly as brothers, but I can't be bothered to find out for sure. Also, I am not familiar with any of the short films they've made before now, so here's their site, if you're curious.

And here's the synopsis for today's short film: BAG MAN is the understated story of a 12 year old African American boy, who takes us on an introspective journey out of the city and into the remote countryside of upstate New York. With a mysterious duffle bag in hand, its contents unknown to us, we journey from the urban hustle of Harlem, into the winter-ravaged woodlands a world away. On the road, we slowly discover his real intentions, and the startling significance of what is hidden inside a young boy’s bag.

All right, so... right away, I'm a little wary.

This synopsis feels really over-written, right from the start. I mean, if you just remove the words "understated" and "introspective" from the first sentence alone, it suddenly reads 100 times better. Plus, and admittedly this is a nitpick, but... if a duffel bag is described as "mysterious", then that implies that its contents are unknown to us. Pump the Purple Prose Brakes, my man. Also, having watched the film, the last sentence in the synopsis weirdly walks a real fine line, where I honestly can't tell if they're just a bit deluded as to what actually happens in this film, or if it was more of a lie, which actually makes the most sense when the over-written synopsis is considered as well.

Of course, none of this means that it's a bad film...

I don't know what this poster is, but I'm real interested in finding out...

Also, according to Birth.Movies.Death, the Bakers are going to turn this short film into a feature length movie called KIN, reporting that the film will be about: "a recently released ex-con (Jack Reynor) and his adopted younger brother who are forced to go on the run. Chased by a vengeful criminal (James Franco), the feds and a cadre of otherworldly soldiers, their only protection is a found weapon of mysterious ancestry".

So, keep that in mind.

Let's watch...

Well, huh.

I guess it turns out that cartoon poster, the one I got from their website and posted above, is really nothing but Hope and Fervent Wishes. I suppose you could infer its depiction as being part of the greater story, maybe, if you stretched really, really hard, but still... not really.

Maybe it's for the feature film? That would be cool.

This isn't really the film's fault, of course, and to be fair, it does highlight that, within the film itself, they do an excellent job of restraining themselves when it comes to the narrative. As we've discussed before now, this is something that lot of short films struggle with: Keeping the story tight and focused, with a keen eye toward budgetary and technical restraints. Not showing some robot warrior fighting a bunch of other robot warriors is a good call. Would I like to see something like that? Of course. Could they have pulled it off? Judging by the Effects? Maybe.

But could they have afforded it? Probably not.

So, it was a good call.

The film is open-ended, sure, but there's no outside speculation, or loose story threads purposely left dangling, like some Short Films like to do, as if through sheer narrative awesomeness they'll be able to force some anonymous Mr. Moneybags out there to pay them to make more. That's never a sound plan, but whatever, the point is, the film doesn't directly pose any questions that it can't answer within its 14 minute time limit, and I appreciate that. Of course, the downside is, they don't answer any questions in the film at all, questions that might be a little more important/fundamental/interesting, questions like: What is the gun? Where does it come from? How did the kid find it? Who is the kid? Who are the three men in the car? Who is the guy in the trunk?

And on, and on, and on.

Put simply, even though it keeps it all very tight, this short film is really just a single sequence from a larger movie, and that kind of renders the whole thing inert. It looks great. The cast is great. I enjoyed what I saw. But what really happens in this film? Beyond a handful of the "Oh, that was neat" kind of moments? Not much.

I really hate to say it, but I would've liked less journey, and more alien weaponry.

Speaking of alien weaponry, I really loved the gun design and all of the stuff related to it. That was all really cool. And in the end, the things the film does do, I enjoyed, and if they make a feature film that dives into all of the unanswered questions, I'll see that too. I just wish they had answered a few more of those questions here.

Blog Man,

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