Friday, August 18, 2017

Top 20 Favorite Films of All Time - Six through Ten


Welcome back!

I know, I know... I said I was going to put these things up once a day. Well... I got ahead of myself, and Trump is terrible, right, so shit happens. Or didn't happen. Whichever point of view you prefer. Anyway, the point is... this is my Top Twenty Favorite Films of all time list.

I like lists. They appeal to me, lists like my Staff Picks list. Remember that? That was fun. Anyway, this list in particular has been a long time coming. Mostly because it wasn't a very easy thing to put together. It started out at over a hundred titles. Getting it down to fifty was pretty difficult. Getting it down to twenty-five was even harder. Then, right at the cusp of completion, my laptop died. This was sometime around the New Year. As a result, my hair's breath away from being nearly-done Top 20 Favorite Films of All Time list was lost. And when I started it up again, it was even harder to reconstruct the thing. Although, I did start out with only sixty titles the second time...

tldr...? It's done. Finally.

For those of you who weren't here for the first installment, (that's kind of weird) but just fyi, when making this list, I decided to follow these (admittedly arbitrary) rules:

1. The list is twenty films long.
2. This is a list of "Favorites," not "Best"
3. There's no Repeat Directors.

I've also broken the list up into four groups of five titles, and while I still intend to post one section a day, I wouldn't advise you holding your breath over that one. Also, a couple of quick reminders: These are films I love, films that I think are great, and films that I would re-watch anytime. Your mileage may vary. Also, there is no order to this list, not even alphabetical.

Let's do this...

Top 20 Favorite Films of All Time
Numbers Six through Ten


The Wizard of Oz is almost 80 years old.

It doesn't feel like, does it? I mean, it's obviously an older movie, but as you sit down nearly every single year to watch it on TV, does it seem dated? Do the seams show around the special effects? Are the songs any less catchy? Compare that with a movie like Sixteen Candles? That thing is barely watchable. What about the TV show Friends? That things a cringe-fest? How does the CGI look in films made fifteen years ago? I'll tell you how it looks... it looks like shit.

The Wizard of Oz, on the other hand, still looks amazing.

Dorothy Gale is swept away from Kansas by a tornado to the magical Land of Oz, and while trying to get back home, she makes a few friends, kills a few witches, and dances the shit out of those ruby slippers. It might be one of the most perfect films ever made. Everyone knows the story. Everyone has seen the film (and probably a half dozen different versions and spin-offs of it too). Simply put, there is no other example of such a well-loved film that has stood the test of time for so long. The moment when she opens that black and white door onto the riotous blast of colors that is Oz, it is pure movie magic. It dazzles you every time.

And in 1940, at the 12th Academy Awards, it only won two Oscars. One for Best Original Music Score, and one for Best Original Song, of course. Guess which one. It lost Best Picture to Gone With The Wind, just in case you've ever wondered if the Oscars were always racist and shitty...


Some people really hate Attack the Block.

I am shocked by this. As near as I can figure, the reason is because the kids are unrepentant criminals at the start of the movie. When the film opens, they mug one of the other main characters, and they don't feel bad about it. Then they discover an alien, and they stomp it to death.

People get really mad about this.

Now, let's just be honest here, most of the reason for this anger is rooted in racism. Plain and simple. And that's... whatever. Fuck those assholes. But there are definitely other people who hate the film, due to the characters' casual criminality, because they just can't stand the idea of having main characters/heroes that aren't 100% pure noble and good, so they push back angrily against any story that veers away from this. If you won't allow characters to be flawed, to make mistakes, to learn and grow, then what are you even looking for in stories? The flaws are what defines them. It's rooted in the whole "I have to like a character in order to enjoy a story" idea, which is just ludicrous to me. I don't understand these people. Especially because the kids in this film are super likable. One of them is John Boyega, for god's sake! People love him!

I don't get it.

This is a film about redemption, and taking responsibility for your actions. In big fucking capital letters, too. That's why they mug one of the other characters. That's why they stomp the alien to death. The entire story is about standing up and dealing with the fall out of those choices. This is what I love about the film. There's no apology for their actions, there's only the accepting of responsibility, and ultimately, a Hero's Redemption. That's fantastic.

Plus, how awesome does this look?


I'll answer for you: It looks super awesome.


This is my Spielberg film. Lucas only counts as the writer. I don't care if you think that's a loophole to my one film per Director rule, because it's my list, and like I said: The Rules are Arbitrary.

When making a list like this, Steven Spielberg is the type of name who has stacks and stacks of genre-defining, pop culture-defining, films to choose from. Stacks of them. And I picked this one. I picked this film, and I'll be honest... It was easy. Super easy. In fact, this was one of the first films I wrote down. Because of this film, I wore a fedora as a kid... while wearing shorts. Because of this film, I owned a bullwhip as a kid... which is just hands-down dangerous. Because of this film, I majored in Anthropology... for awhile anyway. The fact that I didn't want to be an Anthropologist (not enough Nazi fighting) has got to say something.

What I'm saying is, I think it's fair to say the film had an impact on me.

Anthropologist, pulp adventure, and, how should we say it... obtainer of rare antiquities, Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones is hired by the U.S. Government to find the the fabled Ark of the Covenant before evil French Anthropologist, Dr. Rene Belloq, and the Nazis manage to locate it. It's a thrilling throw-back to the days of globe-trotting daring-do and sudden escapes. It's a two-fisted adventure with one of the best heroic scores of all time.


I honestly don't quite know how to quantify my love for this film...

How about this: Not even Crystal Skull could lessen my love of Raiders.

Now, some people claim the major flaw in the film is that if Indiana Jones had done nothing, if he had not gotten involved at all, the film would've ended up the same way: with the Nazis opening the Ark and melting. To that I say: Nuh-uh. Because afterwards the Nazis would still have the Ark, because Dr. Jones wouldn't have been there to box it up and ship to America, so in your face, jerks.


The Cornetto Trilogy includes three of my all time favorite movies. 

I love each one. Unfortunately, this list only allows one entry from a Director. It's maybe the worst thing a person could do to another person making a list... But here we are, and we just have to play with the hand we're dealt, so even though only one film is listed, know that it actually includes all three. That's just fyi. Is this me kind of breaking my own rules yet again, all before the halfway point?

Shut up.

Okay, so even if this slot unofficially includes all three films, deciding on which one to feature was a pretty difficult decision. I eventually settled on The World's End. This choice might surprise some people who know me. If asked, of the three films in the Cornetto Trilogy: Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World's End, which one would Jon pick, I think most people would go with the one with the zombies. That's a fair guess too. It is a great zombie film...

But I choose The World's End. I choose it because it's about who you are, and who you used to be. It's about growing up, and it's about how you can never go home again. It's this last bit that has really resonated with me lately. It's no secret that I think Trump is a festering boil on the shit-splattered ass of humanity, but he's kind of an expected awful. We knew he'd be shit, and he is shit. It's like he's keeping the worst campaign promise. Either way, the point is, you can deal, because it was kind of expected. What ended up being worse is the betrayal. Friends you used to know. People you thought you knew. Folks you respected. They all voted for him, and upon doing so, they turned their backs on me and mine. The fact that they might not have been aware they were doing this only makes it worse. It's a feeling like being cast adrift. And so, much like the movie, you realize you can never truly go home again, both literally and figuratively, because the place is overrun with aliens who want to take over the world, and you are no longer the person you used to be, and that's not a bad thing. 

That's not the only reason I love this film, of course, but right now, it's definitely a big one, especially considering where the film ends...

Like all of the Cornetto films, the script is incredibly tight and the wit is razor sharp. It's surprisingly complex, and it's surprisingly funny in both loud and quiet ways. The action is fantastic. The scifi ideas are on point. It's just a good time all around film that isn't afraid to turn suddenly and punch you in the guts. If you're not already aware, Edgar Wright is a fantastic film-maker. He's someone you should definitely pay attention to.


This seems like too easy a pick, right?

A token classic. The go-to name when it comes to famous old movies. "Here's looking at you, kid." It's so "known," right? It's the type of easy to name choice that dilettantes and smug old film-heads both like to trot out, thinking they're showing off. It's a Turner Movie Classic. 

In a word: No thanks, Grandpa.

As World War 2 envelops Europe, Rick runs a nightclub in Casablanca, and generally tries to stay out of the world's way. Ilsa, an old flame, shows up one day and asks Rick for help. Her husband, Victor Laszlo, is wanted by the Nazis, and she needs Rick’s help to escape the country. Rick finds that the world always finds you eventually, and a man has to make a choice where he stands.

It is classic, right? The kind of romantic setting that has launched a thousand stories. 

But when I was a younger man, I wasn't interested. Not because of the setting or the subject necessarily, but because of the age. It was made in 1942. That is ancient when you're in your early 20s. Also, it was black and white, and like I pointed out above, it was so "known", the type of film both dilettantes and smug old film-heads name-check. I assumed it would be grainy and tinny, that it would be hard to see and hear, and even harder to watch, because it was probably out-dated and naive to a fault. I assumed it was sound-stage sterile, y'know? That's what I assumed. So, it was a long time before I sat down to actually watch it.

And, I was shocked, shocked to find that there's a reason we still love this movie after 75 years.

I discovered that some things really do deserve their reputation, and that common doesn't automatically mean bad. I discovered that films can be sweet and simple and straight forward, all while also being surprisingly complex and sophisticated. I realized there are moments in a 75 year old film that can still hit as powerfully today, as it did then. I mean, try not to tear up as the French out-sing those smug Nazi bastards. In such an easy and earnest way, Casablanca showed me a truth so simple, it's hard to believe now that I ever needed to be taught it. Casablanca taught me about the power of cinema. Plus, this exchange between Rick and Nazi Officer is particularly great, especially after recent events:


Yeah, screw you, Nazi.

And there we go, people. That's six through ten. What do you think? Swing back early next week, as I intend to be more prepared to post the last couple a little more quickly.

Until then,
Jon

Friday, August 11, 2017

Ingrid Goes West







Today's film is called INGRID GOES WEST.

I love it. It looks so dark and funny and mean, but in an enjoyable way, not in the kill-all-poor-people-and-people-of-color-GOP way, and sometimes a nice dark comedy can really hit the spot. Plus, it's being distributed by NEON, which is connected to Tim League of the Alamo Drafthouse, which is who brought us all the fantastic film Colossal, so I'm definitely in.

Speaking of fantastic, Aubrey Plaza was always fantastic in Parks and Rec, which was filled with fantastic people, but after that was done, she kind of floundered a bit. Dirty Grandpa? Barf. Mike and Dave Needs Wedding Dates? More barf. Granted, she was also in Legend of Korra, which was fucking awesome, but still... The To Do List? That's a real low low, people. Her career was definitely in danger of skidding out.

But then she was in Legion...


She was phenomenal.

She was mercurial and unhinged, just a constant powerhouse presence on screen. She was an incredibly believable monster, brimming with mirth and menace. It was a great performance. It was the type of performance that buys my interest for future projects.So, here she is in Ingrid Goes West, and I am paying attention.

You should too. 

Here's the synopsis: Following the death of her mother and a series of self-inflicted setbacks, young Ingrid Thorburn escapes a humdrum existence by moving out West to befriend her Instagram obsession, a Los Angeles socialite named Taylor Sloane. After a quick bond is forged between these unlikeliest of buddies, the facade begins to crack in both women's lives -- with comically malicious results.

Comically malicious? Sounds great. Let's watch!

First the teaser trailer. It's Red Band as Fuck, so heads up...



The teaser is fantastic, but the full trailer gives a better idea of the plot...


I'm so in. Like I said above, there's tons of elements I like that are involved. The cast is fantastic. I love a good dark comedy. And as an added bonus, it looks like it's going to be a scathing social critique, so... yeah... Love it.

INGRID GOES WEST opens August 27th.

Your Internet BFF,
Jon


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lucky Logan









Today's film is called Logan Lucky.

That's Logan Lucky, got it? Logan. Lucky. It's not Lucky Logan, like how I keep calling it, no matter how hard I try, even though I'm actually interested in the movie and really want to see it.

Say it with me... Logan Lucky.

Even though it was written by suspected fictitious person, Rebecca Blunt, which is most likely a pseudonym for who knows who (Psst...Steven Soderbergh), Logan Lucky is a Steven Soderbergh film through and through. This is apparent the moment you watch the trailer. Quickly paced with fast cuts, lots of wit and style, and packed wall to wall with names like Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Katie Holmes, Hilary Swank, and Daniel Craig, plus more, it's a really appealing film to me.


It's even more appealing for Soderbergh, I'm sure, who came out of a self-proclaimed "retirement" not just to make this film, but to give a big old middle finger to the Studio System by keeping the marketing and distribution of the movie in-house. It's a daunting prospect, one the Studios are most likely hoping fails miserably, but if it succeeds, it could open up entire new worlds of possibilities to independent filmmakers. 

The Studios are probably shitting their pants right now. 

This type of stuff is, of course, a secondary concern to whether or not the film is actually good, but it's something to be aware of, I guess. We shall see...

Here's the synopsis: The Logans are a hardscrabble family from the hills of West Virginia, and their clan has been famous for its bad luck for nearly 90 years. But the conniving Jimmy Logan (Channing Tatum) decides its time to turn the family's luck around, and with a little help from his friends, the Redneck Robbers, he plans to steal $14 million from the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Oh, boy, it's a heist film.

I love a good heist film. Done right, they're one of my favorite genres. I love the sequence of getting the band back together. I love the style and the cool. I love the tension. I love the twists and turns and the inevitable sudden double-crosses. I love when it all goes bad, and the guns come out. And I really love when it turns out that that was the plan all along. In many ways, heist films hit the same buttons for me as Men on a Mission films do. The disparate team of hard-case individuals that have all been brought together for a dangerous job always brings with them a nice amount of inter-personal conflict and good old fashioned spiky-edged personality clashes, and all of this just adds to the tension as they are pushed toward a single all-or-nothing goal. It's a great formula for drama.

I'm always down for a good heist film.




By the way, if you haven't seen of the films in this little collage I posted here, you should rectify that immediately. These are all great films.

Anyway, let's check out the trailer...


I like it. I like it a lot.

It looks like the backwoods cousin of Ocean's 11. Plus, ripping off those dirty sons of bitches at NASCAR is always good, if you ask me. No offense. Daniel Craig was a surprising hoot too, and I'm all in any time for Channing Tatum and Adam Driver. Those guys are great. Hands down, this looks like a plain old good time at the movies. I can't wait.

LOGAN LUCKY opens August 18th.

Feeling lucky,
Job


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Firebase - Oats Studio - Volume One








Today's short film is called FIREBASE.

FIREBASE is the second short film in a new series, all of which are written and directed by Neil Blomkamp, in conjunction with Oats Studio, which is Blomkamp's attempt at an independent production house. You know who Neil Blomkamp, I'm sure. I know I've talked about him before. He's not one of my favorites. Every film he has made so far has been a step down in quality from the previous one, with each successive one having the cumulative effect of making his much-lauded debut, DISTRICT 9, seem like more and more of a fluke, the farther we get away from it.

But... I'm going to do this with an open mind...

This new series--which, as far as I can tell, doesn't have an official name beyond "Oats Studio"--is Blomkamp's attempt to subvert the studio system. After his terrible idea to reboot the ALIENS franchise with a new third film thankfully crashed, and the deservedly reviled CHAPPIE was shit on by everyone with taste, the luster is finally gone from this formerly Oscar nominated Director. As a result, he has decided strike out on his own, rather than labor to reclaim his name in gun-for-hire studio film hell, and besides, he didn't want all those kids at his birthday anyway. In fact, he doesn't even like birthday parties! He's not crying, YOU'RE crying!

A big part of this new plan is to make all of these films available on Steam. This seems like a dead-end idea to me, much in the same way Playstation's attempt at original TV shows was, but what do I know, I'm a bear, I bite the heads off fish. From what I can gather, the general distribution model they're exploring is somewhat akin to street dealing: The first couple of these short films are intended to be free, to get you hooked, and then they'll start charging.

Unfortunately for Blomkamp, so far, his cinematic crack is wanting...

The first short film in this series was called RAKKA. It was complete nonsense, despite having Sigourney Weaver in it, who is awesome. More of an overly-extended trailer for a film that's never going to happen than an actual narrative--not to mention one that most of us have seen already--I found it to be less than impressive. Fanboys, on the other hand, with their predictably low standards, seemed to love it.

And now here we are with the next short film in the series, one that might be connected to the last one, but maybe not. They're both referred to as "Volume 1", so at the very least they're different branches, but are they rooted in the same story? I don't know. The monster designs look like they could have some similarities, but that could also be because, when it comes to story and design, Blomkamp only has a few cards in his hand, and he returns to them over and over.

Here's the synopsis for FIREBASE: While fighting the Vietnam war, both sides face a new kind of threat that neither of them were prepared for.

Well, that's completely vague and uninformative. That's a big red flag, folks. If I've said it once, I've said it a dozen time, when it comes to genre short films, a short and really vague synopsis like this often means there's no real plot to be summarized. That's not a rule that's always true, of course, just one I've found to usually be true.

Only one way to find out, I guess...


Okay, since the official synopsis was so bad, here's how I think it should've read...

Meanwhile, in Vietnam, some butthole American troops have Batman-ed the fuck out of a Vietnamese farmer, which turns him into Apocalypse from the X-Men (the bad movie version, not the somewhat less bad comic book one). This man is now called the RiverGod, possibly because he sticks close to the river, but no one really says for sure. Meanwhile, LoneWolf McStubble is a man on the edge, a lone American soldier hunting monsters in the deep bush with nothing but a sharp stick and a steely-eyed grimace. A CIA guy recruits him to... hang out and glare? I think. Then a somewhat burnt soldier tells them about a time vortex where he experiences a Russian Robot attack in a past that never happened? Or will happen? That also wasn't clear. Finally, Lone Wolf McStubble gets a brand-new outfit. Roll credits.

What we have here is another incomplete film, more of a bloated prologue to a larger story than an actual stand-alone one. This is an all too common issue in the genre short film world.

Granted, this film is part of a series, a possibly inter-connected series too, but what's the point of separate pieces, if they aren't separate stories? The question of "What's this about?" shouldn't be a vague rehash of story moments, there should be a small arc within each short film, and that small arc should then be used to help create whatever stupid larger arc they're chasing. Shit... at the very least, there should be characters, but there's none of that here. This film spins in circles for a while, throwing out overly-familiar Vietnam-era cliches, and then ends right before the good part, which retroactively makes this whole thing a frustrating waste of time.

Not only that, but FIREBASE looks cheap, doesn't it? If I saw this one blind, I would be surprised to discover it was Blomkamp. His usual flair for cool shots was noticeably missing here. The whole thing seemed like a sloppy fanfilm of a crappy show.  I mean, at one point, they call the burnt soldier "Sergeant" and then two lines later, they called him "Corporal". I want to hope that slip has meaning, like it's the result of a change in reality that it will pay off somehow later, but... I sincerely doubt it.

Plus, honestly, I kind of hate the LoneWolf McStubble character, him and his nebulous superpower. He's a complete cartoon cliche. That mother fucker is so grim, I bet he growls while brushing his teeth. And he's not just an annoying cliche, he's also a favorite well that Blomkamp likes to dip into. This film, and RAKKA, both feature an "infected" human becoming a disfigured, super-powered god/savior, just like in DISTRICT 9, just like in ELYSIUM, and even in CHAPPIE too, kind of. Over and over again. The same tricks. The same beats. Every time. It isn't just that Blomkamp's work lacks cohesive characters and narratives, it's that it's the same terrible and worn-out things each time.

And then there's the whole RiverGod back story...

Grief gave him superpowers?

Really? That's what they're going with? Do you think that's the real-deal, face-value story? Because I'm not sure. I mean, it's so dumb, who would go with that, right? But on the other hand... It's Blomkamp, so it could be true. OR... is this the first hint that the FIREBASE story, in fact this whole series, is actually part of a computer simulation story? Is something like the MATRIX going on? Is the RiverGod going to turn out to be a broken program? Who knows, but I hope so, because otherwise that shit is dumb.

But hey, at least the RiverGod looked cool, right? I liked the way he gathered flesh to himself, and how he would turn invisible. That looked cool. I also liked the timeslip idea, the whole alternate past bleeding into the present type of thing. That's a kind of interesting idea, even though nothing was really done with it here, except for the fact that it exists.

That last sentence is this film in a nutshell, basically.

The next short film in this series is reportedly going to be called ZYGOTE, and it is supposedly going to be released in the next couple of weeks. Additionally, it's said they're going to try charging for the next one, to test out the model, which is another way of saying "I won't be watching that film."

Later,
Jon

Monday, August 7, 2017

UPDATES


It's a rainy Sunday here in Eastern Minnesota, the wife is out, and the cats haven't decided that it's dinner time yet, so I've decided to open up a Spotted Cow beer (In your face, Wisconsin) and sit down to do some Updates on me and my Writing. 


This has felt like a tough year for me as far as my writing has gone. Looking back, I realize I've actually made some good progress, but still... it feels like I've gotten almost nothing done this year. Time is always an issue. The job takes up too much time, and I often feel like I've just gotten home and it's nearly midnight already, and I haven't even had a chance to sit down and type some stuff up yet... but that's a problem every writer has, right? Mostly, I blame Trump. The shitty part of the country took a big old dump all over the rest of us last November and ever since it's been a rough time creatively. It's hard to write about monsters and apocalyptic worlds when it feels like we're living in one right now.

However, despite this feeling, I have gotten some stuff done.


So, let's get to it...

THE CURRENT WIP

This is the same book I started last November back during NaNoWriMo, which was then quickly derailed in the wake of Trump cracking open the Seventh Seal. That was pretty shitty all around, but the good news is, I only failed at NaNoWriMo, I've been working on the book ever since. It doesn't have a title yet. Not really. It had some Working Titles, but they're not really right anymore. And it's still a little early to have a formal back cover summary put together yet, but it's getting closer.

There's progress, slow progress, but progress all the same...


Right now, the book has to do with an Internet Dare involving an Elevator and a Portal to another World. There's monsters and magic, and an endless war in the dead lands between Heaven and Hell, and demigods and heroes of legend, robots fighting trolls, magic weapons, that kind of stuff. I'm pretty sure Hercules is going to show up. It's mostly about a young woman, maybe two, one hunting for a young man she barely knows who has disappeared into the gray world, while the other just wants to destroy everything.

Maybe. It's still fluid.


I got the first part down, at least...

Writing-wise, I'm somewhere in the middle of the book right now, the soggy middle to be honest, and that's slowing me down. It happens. It happened during my first and second book. It probably would've happened in my third one, but that book is just a bunch of disparate parts that won't come together nicely, like a box of puzzle pieces from a bunch of incomplete puzzles. In those cases, I just had to keep gong, sink or swim. That's where I am right now, the luster is off my precious new bauble, and I have found myself in the middle of a giant swamp that I can't see the end of it. But... trudge on. That's all I can do. It's the only choice. Finish the draft, then try to fix it, then try to... drain the swamp, if you will, because this one could work. Maybe.


Thanks, Joe. I hope to have a draft done by the end of the year.

THE NEXT WIP

I know what my next project is going to be. It's not fleshed out yet, it's just a good idea, a little spark in the back of my mind, but it's a strong spark. I was listening to a podcast not too long ago--I listen to a lot of podcasts at work now--and there was this one sentence in the last episode of one of them. Just one sentence, but it was so good. That one sentence bloomed into a whole idea, a scary and mean and magical and wonderful idea. It just lit up in my head. I try not to think about it too much, because I'm busy on other stuff, and it's so good, it's like a coiled spring, so I know if I poke at it too much, it'll unleash and blow up all over the place, and then I won't be able to ignore it, and then it'll just get in the way of my current project, and once that happens, everything gets tangled up and ends up crashing and burning, and I don't want that.

I want to finish my other thing first, and I want this idea to slow-cook for awhile.


It's a really good idea, people.

SHORT STORIES

I've got about a half dozen or so ready to first draft, and maybe that same number ready to be rewritten and fixed and second drafted, but I'm not sure when I'll get to any of them. Most likely in the down time between my current WIP's first and second draft. Maybe. Short Stories seem to have a tendency to pile up, and poke at you. They're kind of annoying in that way. But there's no rush on any of that stuff at the moment, so as far as I'm concerned, they can wait.


Although, I may try to get something together and sent off for this...

THE BLOG

Other than that, there's a long queue of new posts waiting in the wings here at the ol' blog. More Movies I'm looking forward to. More Short Films to watch and review. Plus, next week--Hopefully. Finally--I'll finally start posting my Top 20 All Time Favorite Films list. It almost didn't survive my last computer's death, and it took some time to re-assemble, but I've managed to pull it off. So, at least there's that for you to look forward to.


I got a whole stack of things to work on.

Hopefully I'll find the time,
Jon

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Hybrids






This short film is called HYBRIDS.

So, apparently, Patrick Kalyn is like seemingly every other Genre Short Film Creator out there, when he's not Writing and Directing his own short film projects, he's working in the Visual Effects Department of some pretty well known big studio sci-fi/fantasy films. Which is pretty impressive. Also, much like seemingly every other Genre Short Film Creator out there... I have never heard of him, nor have I ever seen any of his work.

It's tradition, I guess...

Since I can't really tell you too much else, here's the synopsis: In a deserted urban battleground, a vengeful military woman hunts alien creatures.

Yep. That's it. One sentence. This may have been a mistake.

Let's watch.



Well, at least the synopsis wasn't lying.

This film was a mess, nothing but a lot of overly-familiar tropes all kind of awkwardly bundled together. Even worse, the main character's back story was a mix of strangely paced cliche and cheap sentimentality, all of which took up way too much time, and was really... it was just odd, and made no sense, even with all of that "Key" nonsense they briefly jabbered on about. And while CGI fight choreography is obviously not their forte at all, the really weird editing choices in the second fight only ended up highlighting this inability to an embarrassing degree.

But all of that was just regular mediocre genre short film stuff, your basic run-of-the-mill d-tier sci-fi overly-used trope nonsense. The real out-of-left-field oddball bits in this short film came next. The hologram booby trap atop the skyscraper? The weird "join the fight" voice-over? The concept art? The zero context Spider Tank ending? I mean, none of it looks bad or anything, but there's no connective tissue. It's just this random mish-mash of kind of related stuff sloppily tacked on at the back end of the film, and that is what ended up highlighting the real purpose of this short film.

We're looking at an example of the dreaded "proof of concept" short film, people.

Good or bad, well-executed or not, these things are actually the worst. They act like they're short films, but really they're just half-ass pitches, a weird hybrid existing somewhere between trailer and clip montage. They're usually vague and open-ended. There's no story, there's no characters, and no arc, because everything is meant to sell an idea to Money Men and Studio Execs.

I don't think anyone bought this one.

Jon