Tuesday, March 29, 2011


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Keep on keepin on~

Monday, March 28, 2011

BUFF weekend review

The Boston Underground Film Festival is now offering a "Recession Special" pass for $35! This will get you into all the remaining festival film screenings at the Kendall Square theater all day thru Thursday, March 31. Well worth it if you can find four movies you're into in the next four days (or two or three and feel like supporting the festival w the difference! =).

From the films I caught this weekend, I'd recommend to EVERYONE (who can handle a little violence and weirdness w their drama, it *IS* the BUFF, after all)...

trailer | BUFF
A tongue-in-cheek (but surprisingly, not literally so) take on the revenge drama. Think the setup of OLD BOY with the colliding worlds, tone change-ups, and even some of the pop culture droppings of PULP FICTION.

trailer | BUFF
A smart and matter-of-factly done wink-and-a-nod what-if drama that unfolds in an apartment building that is quarantined to protect the public from a possible superflu/virus outbreak. After a couple of hours, neighbors give each other dirty looks when one of them coughs or sneezes. A day or so later, they are reluctant to help each other out with a spare this or that. And after a week, that persistent cough might as well be a WMD and the contents of one's medicine cabinet and cupboards become very valuable. Wacky fun ensues! A clever cousin to the likes of [REC]. Subtitled, from Argentina.

trailer | BUFF | music
This is the trippiest of my recommendations, but I have to push it cuz of its beautiful, somewhat fried, whimsy and darkness. It starts in a BRAZIL-ian dystopian near-future, man as cog in machine. Then it visits dreamlands probably bordering ERASERHEAD. When the film, and the main character, finally embrace these detours into the weird, they escape into a musical vision quest somewhere between EL TOPO and AMERICAN ASTRONAUT.

Hrmm... That probably doesn't mean a lot to most of you, eh? Well, please have a look at the listing and the trailer and then decide to take a chance on it anyway. =)

A couple of niche-ier conditional recommendations...

trailer | BUFF | my ramble
A pretty solid slow burn of a psycho-sci-fi flick. The monsters in this film are of the glassy-eyed, not bug-eyed, type. They're a group of lifelong friends, getting together for a reunion weekend of male bonding... who happen to encounter an otherworldly phenom in the snowy woods, an energy field in the shape of a corridor, a corridor that grows as it apparently lures more and more people into itself.

The film reminds me a lot of DREAMCATCHER in setup and tone, but goes somewhere a bit more personal with the conflict. Note that the director (or was he the writer, sorry, I'm not sure now) explained that this is a not-quite-final cut, as there is still post-production work to be completed.

If you find yourself pondering any of the short film programs, I saw ILLUSTRATED ODDITIES (a wide variety of subjects, all delivered in animated style) and FUTURE IMPERFECT (weird glimpses into the dark present and apocal-a-future), and between the two, FUTURE has more better-crafted executions of compelling concepts and stories. Alas, the FUTURE films play again this afternoon, foo, while ODDITIES screens on Thursday at 5:45. I kinda wish that I'd caught the OMFG LMFAO program, which ran head-to-head against the animation. O well.

Keep on keepin on~


BUFF | trailer

If you're into slow burning sci-fi, you'll probably dig THE CORRIDOR. If your sci-fi needs atomic gorillas, robots, and/or spaceships, this may feel molasses slow, altho some harsh violence in the final act does spice things up.

Five lifelong friends meet up for a weekend of male bonding at a cabin in the woods they usedta hang at when they were kids. Tensions are a bit high since this is the first they've all seen one another since Tyler was committed (now released on meds) after witnessing the suicide of his mother, which caused him to snap and attack his friends. When Tyler encounters a strange otherworldly phenomenon in the woods, he begins to doubt his sanity again. When he learns that his friends can also see and experience this corridor of energy, he's relieved, but then notices that their exposure to it affects their behavior. They begin to needle and provoke one another, and each time emotions run high, turning violent at times, the corridor... changes.

Yeah, weird, right? It's a quiet kind of psych-sci-fi tale. In tone and setup—the longtime friends reuniting for a weekend in the wild and encountering something not of this world—it reminds me of DREAMCATCHER. Of course, the nature of the otherworldly phenomenon is different.

I like the way the story goes, and the cast is very good, but I wish that some of the on screen execution was different. The director did explain that the edit that was screened was a version 1.0, and that there is more post production to complete before reaching a truly final cut, so maybe that will happen.

**SPOILERS** in more summary and commentary.

Tyler's mother encountered the corridor many years earlier, when it was tiny. Each human interaction with the corridor causes it to grow. Violence and death within the corridor seem to supercharge it. As it grows, it seems to direct its extension towards the nearest city.

Tyler's mother has been unbalanced for most of his life, and we discover that her behavior eventually drove him to assault her, a fact that Tyler had repressed thoroughly and only remembers under the influence of the corridor. When he and his friends enter the corridor, it connects them, forcing and/or allowing them to share each other's minds, their memories (as they recall each other's hidden secret shames without being told) and thoughts (demonstrated in the umpteen roshambo ties between Huggz and Bobcat). Tyler is the one who realizes that this means that his neuroses are now shared with them as well. When he takes his meds, he finds that he can block the corridor connection, making him the only sane (relatively, at least) individual among his increasingly maniacal friends. This crazy leads them to attack one another, first with insults, and then with ghastly physical injury, including scalping and crucifying. Gotta love male bonding, eh?

Once the corridor powers up to a certain level, it revives and reanimates the dead. We don't know that there's any grand design behind it beyond connection, tho. Under the corridor's influence, Huggs, the brains of the outfit, realizes that it is actually just one line of many lines to come, together forming a grid, or network, that ultimately will cover the globe and connect every person on the planet. I kinda wish that notion, and further extrapolation of it, was pushed more.

In the end, the corridor chooses the most empathic of the gang, Chris, to be its emissary, sending him to apparently recruit everyone who lives in the city to which it reaches out. When Tyler forcibly disconnects Chris from the corridor, he is confronted by his mother. Tyler realizes that his mother was actually MADE crazy by the corridor and he attacks the apparition in order to free his mother of the corridor's control and force it to use and possess him instead. When he does this, he seems to exorcise the corridor from everyone it's touched and then he and his mother ('s spirit?) choose to sacrifice themselves rather than let the corridor grow again. The corridor collapses around them, leaving behind only ashes, similar (or identical to?) the ashes of his mother that Tyler spread on the snow of the woods only a day or so earlier. Maybe a hint that the corridor never actually happened, that maybe one or more or all of the gang snapped and attacked and killed all the others.

In the end, only Chris, the empathic fella, the one who was everyone's confidante, lives to not tell the tale.

Keep on keepin on~

Sunday, March 27, 2011


This is a ramble on the films included in BUFF's ILLUSTRATED ODDITIES, which I caught this afternoon. It's the fest's animated shorts package with as many student films as professional ones, it seems. I can't remember the exact order that the shorts played in, so I'm gonna hit them in the order they appear in the listing at the BUFF 2011 site.

"Misadventures of a Symbiote"
Some pretty cool stop-motion animation of a creature composed of bits of machinery and broken items evolving in stages as it takes apart and assimilates elements of objects it encounters. The design and animation of the early stages are cool enough, but the final one or two lose me, and the thin "plot" defined by the title cards that introduce each stage doesn't help it any.

The film starts with a man ignoring and then noticing an abundance of apparently coincidental signs that point to his imminent death. The first two or three minutes of the film that deal with this are excellent, and I think I would've been really happy if it found an ending about then and stopped. Reminded me a lot of how Griffin Dunne sees clues to his possible fate over and over in AFTER HOURS. However, the film goes on to have the man leave home and inexplicably fall into a series of newspaper photos on a nearby newsstand. By "fall into" I mean he appears to walk into a news photo and interact with the depicted scene. For instance, a he walks into the frame of a photo of a hotel hallway. The camera then pulls back to reveal a headline about a hotel toppling due to an earthquake, just as the hallway environment in the photo begins to tip one way and the other, throwing the man around. As the hallway walls begin to crack, he finds his way out of the photo and tumbles into another one, falling down some basement stairs and landing in the chalk outline of a murder victim, and so on. The effects used to have this man inhabit these environments are pretty cool but for me don't logically fit the story. These segments seem to be about how all the news we see is Bad news, and y'know what, I can't remember now how the story resolves itself. Blerg. I'm pretty sure he makes it out of the news photo world, but can't recall how. Nuts.

"Win Big"
Kind of loved this. In a post-apocalyptic city environment, two massive insect monsters sit down for a game of poker. Billboards are their cards and traffic signs are their chips. When centipede dude pretty much takes megafly for all he's got, megafly has to offer up something in trade to pay off the pot. This leads to megafly offering up his own body parts as payment. When centipede dude asks for an ultimate payment, he realizes that he will lose his playmate and opponent. Sad, lonely centipede...

"Ralph's Not Normal"
A cute story on the legacy of weird little Ralph, remembered fondly by a childhood friend, but needs a little rewrite and editing. Also would've preferred a more analog animated style for the scale/scope of this.

"Deep Water Horizon"
In 3-D! Wish this had been less about counting and more about message/illustration.

"Something Left, Something Taken"
This started the program off with some cool, if distracting, style. The story—a couple of tourists in SF who get the idea that they've solved the Zodiac Killer mystery, but only just in time to become his newest victims—could've used some editing, but it wasn't bad, just not as funny to me as I suspect it thinks it is. The style, and I think I've seen this in quite a few animated shorts in the last decade or so, involves using CG 3-d animation of models and characters made to appear as if they're build from materials that are traditionally used in analog stop-motion. So, you see cars and buildings made out of cardboard, and characters with parts of sewn fabric, but they're actually computer rendered textures/materials. Which is fine, and probably doesn't bother most audiences, but causes my brain to itch a bit as I look and wonder how or why at times.

"If Not Now, When"
The stop-motion in this was fun, but the live action was a little too performance artsy for me. I took it to be a cycle of life/evolution sequence, set on an alternate earth, or perhaps a past or future era of ours. I really like dish antenna crab guy and the clockwork, tho.

"Ad Infinitum"
Cool and simple visual "powers of ten"-type premise and execution. Actually wanted more, and hoped for a clever revelation of a finish that didn't come.

"Hansel And Gretel"
A simple re-imagining of the traditional tale. I dig the character design, but don't love the animation. The very last image (bonesy stuff) is pretty fun, tho.

"House Bunny"
I really dig this for its hyper-kinetic and raw animation style set to some boppin' tunes. Like ZOOM or ELECTRIC COMPANY scratch-on-film stuff. Close to the essence of animation.

"Bookkeeper Of The Universe"
The cosmos is being audited by the IRS. While the cosmic bookkeeper goes to get the proper forms, the auditor gets an ominous glimpse behind the paperwork curtain, triggering an existential crisis. Lotta potential in this premise, but a weak execution. I feel like it needs a more controlled visual style. Loose is fine, but a controlled loose, a la Plympton, is what I'd like to see. Messy-loose, well, it's gotta be made visually pleasing, or, choose its dramatic moment, y'know? And this doesn't quite get there or do that. I'm pretty sure this was one of the student films, tho, so please consider that and set your bar accordingly.

Then again, please consider "Marvelous Keen Looney Bin", a student film that I caught as part of the warm-up to THE ANIMATION SHOW a couple years ago.

"The Drawer And The Crow"
I honestly don't remember a film connected to this title in the program I saw.

"Don't Text And Drive"
The best marriage of concept and execution in the program. A minute or so of beautiful style and animation of careening cars set to ballet (or was it opera?) music is a clever set up for a good punchline reward.

"The Black Pines"
Some very nice traditional ink on paper and cel animation that follows a kid into and out of his dream, or is it a nightmare? Is the notebook paper rule necessary?

"Hot Velcro Action"
The first 15 seconds or so does too good a job of raising your hopes for coolness, the rest of it fails for me. My hopes were raised by the revelation of velcro as a key part of the animation process in this film. A pretty cool riff on a simple "dot"-y system of animation. Unfortunately, what's done with this velcro disappoints.

Marshmallow Fluff... animated! Just some Fluffy whimsy, really. Nice to see some traditional cutout (magazines, colored xeroxes, patterns) animation. Pleasing to my eye.

"Wisdom Teeth"
"I see prehistoric animals!" =) Yeah, this is the Don Hertzfeldt short, delivering Hertsfeldtian laughing Wrongness, and a wise choice to finish the program, ending it on a hilarious and ghastly note.

Keep on peepin on~

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Agent of E.A.G.L.E." makes the Colbert Report gallery!

"Stephen Colbert: Agent of E.A.G.L.E." joins "ColberTron" in the Colbert Report's "Art Me Up" gallery this week!

Alas, it didn't get a mention on the show like "ColberTron," but hey, that's *two* portraits up for my quiet-guy-keeps-to-himself self—woohoo! =)

I am a little disappointed that someone else's THEY LIVE riff made the gallery instead of mine. I guess he gets points for making the LIVE-ness the primary and more iconic focus of the portrait, whereas I split focus with a wordier LIVE message and the "Stephen's Colored-In Friend" portrait layout. Shmeh.

Gotta say, I like my rambling patter for that one, too. O well.

You can see all of my "Art Me Up" goofs (so far =) in this flickr album.

Keep on keepin on~

Monday, March 07, 2011

FRINGE: rambling and an ending...

This started out as a comment reply to TA's comment on TV: what I'm watching..., but ended up turning into a post of its own...

FRINGE. I'm not sure I'm getting the "loose end" addiction you're speaking of. Do you find this across all of his shows/stories? I can't credit/blame him for all the LOST issues. That's all Cuseloff or whatever. ALIAS, well, I really didn't care too much about continuity issues in that. FELICITY? Pretty basic.

The Deus Exes, well, I had a problem with that at the start of the first season, but I decided to allow for them because the show doesn't treat them as disposable one-offs. The story and characters actually take advantage of a solution or technique or technology that they encountered before, even if it was pulled out of someone's rear. That's what I mean when I say everything matters.

Yes, Olivia's abilities are a bit too whatever-they-need/want-them-to-be. She managed to shut off that detonator way back when using her MIND, somehow. I really loved that bit, actually. But we haven't seen her do anything more like that, or train to do anything more like that. We just saw that as a child she went pyrokinetic, didn't she? And when Peter finds her in the tulip field, she says something about how she's surprised that she cooled down as fast as she did, and then holds his hand, and then, causes it to start snowing...?

The only consistent thing we've seen is her combo ability to cross over and recognize items from the other world.

One thing I was annoyed by, but am hoping they'll retcon into a better situation, was the systematic killing of the cortexiphan kids, Olive's peer test subjects who may or may not have developed weird abilities as well. Of course, we recently found out that at least one of them dropped off the grid far enough that he couldn't be tracked down. I'm hoping that maybe there will be another two or three to keep things interesting. Cort-X-Men? Cortexiphanatics?

I get that the origin of this doomsday machine dealio is meant to be shrouded in mystery, but man, I'd really like for the show to provide more info about it, even a b.s. mythology or cave drawings or something. Bleah.

I love that the numbers transmissions are part of FRINGE's world, but was WAY blown away by the discovery that these broadcasts are REAL, and that neither I, nor any of my Lostie fan friends, knew or heard about this in connection to the Numbers broadcast that Hurley's Connect-4 buddy picked up while on duty at a military listening station. The same broadcast that lures Rousseau's science mission into the snowglobe as well. Wack.

I like the idea that Kevin Corrigan, aka Sam the bowling alley man, might be some sort of uber-watcher, or maybe a fallen watcher, one who meddled to a "criminal" degree and got demoted to human. I forget, does the show call the bald dude Observers or Watchers?

I have an outline for a possible endgame for the show...

Peter gets strapped into the machine. I'm thinking that it will be put to him, perhaps by both Walters, Olivias, and/or William, that the reality fissures have gotten so bad in both worlds that one of them has to go or neither will survive. The call as to WHICH world survives will be based on which Olivia he truly loves, not a conscious decision, and perhaps something that the machine itself can only measure and determine.

Question: can the doomsday machine in one reality destroy the other reality, or only the one that it's in?

Gotta say, Fauxlivia being pregnant is a really nice ante-upper.

Meanwhile, Walter reveals to Olivia that he's been able to re/reverse-engineer Peter Weller's time travel cyborg implants. He believes that she may be the only one who can safely use them, to do what must be done: go back in time to help younger Walter cure Peter, and also help Walternate cure his Peter in the other world. Walter's initial technological incursion into the parallel world created the first rip in the fabric of reality, but Olivia's "natural" crossover talent would not upset the multiverse that way.

Of course, this means that Olivia changes history. Everything that we've seen thus far would be unwritten. We see an adult Olivia meeting the young Peters of both worlds while feverish and ill and saving their lives. Perhaps we see her appear angelically thru a young Peter's delirious eyes, smiling, comforting, and then... disappearing. We see the adult Peter plugged into the machine as it powers up to detonation/nullification. He closes his eyes, "remembers" Olivia appearing to him those many years ago when he was a sick little boy, and... the world goes white.

BOSTON. PRESENT DAY. Cambridge, Harvard Square, Harvard Yard. As FBI Agent Olivia Dunham is about to enter the Harvard University labs of Dr. Walter Bishop, Peter Bishop pushes the door wide on his way out, forcing Olivia to jump back a bit and Peter to stop short and drop a few things. The usual apologies and whatnot and Olivia picks up Peter's copy of IF YOU MEET THE BUDDHA ON THE ROAD, KILL HIM, and considers it for a moment, revealing that she read the book a little while ago but never quite got it. Peter then starts in about his take on the book and then their eyes meet. There's a moment, when each catches him/herself. They shake it off and Peter explains that his father isn't here, he's back at Massive Dynamic, which is where he's heading. Olivia takes him up on his offer to guide her there. Pull back to Kevin Corrigan and Observers sitting on a bench feeding squirrels and watching the two of them leave. Pithy comments about fate and reality.


Keep on keepin on~