Monday, 25 March 2013

The Arctic Circle Review

Desire is a fundamental part of any filmmakers’ journey. Many would say that if you do not have a burning desire to be creative and make interesting film entertainment content then you probably do not have what it takes to compete with filmmakers today and should probably do something else. As with most business, the cream rises to the top and it is usually the ones who fight for it that end up getting what they want and achieving their goals. As a writer and a filmmaker myself, I understand that desire. Most people who know me would call me ambitious. But there is a downside to the desire to be a filmmaker and it may not be what you assume. Newer filmmakers today have a tendency to spell things out for the audience or hold things back. It really does not matter what types of genre you look at, they generally do one or the other. Spelling things out is bad because it makes the audience think that the film makers did not think they were smart enough to understand what was going on without every detail told to them.

Holding too much back can also be bad because it will make the audience think there should have been more to the story and the filmmaker just is not very good at telling a story. Neither could be entirely accurate, however in the world of film entertainment perception is reality. What people think you are doing is what people will assume you are doing and that can be bad if what you are doing makes the audience feel one of those two things. The Arctic Circle in a lot of ways suffers from both of these things at various points in the film, partly because it does one and then the other.

At the beginning of this film there is a clear attempt to explain the story as it goes along despite it being a film without dialogue. As a result when the film stops doing that later in the short it becomes somewhat disconcerting and you are left wondering why it did not continue. Still, one of the benefits of doing a film that is entirely silent, animated or not, is that most of the action and story happens visually. Even though it switches gears halfway through it still manages to tell a very simple and honest story about the reality of the world.

It is still worth watching. Check it out below or at Film Annex.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Earth Review

Aliens are a popular topic to use for filmmakers today. This can sometimes happen in tough economic times, much like the attempt at a lot of post-apocalyptic films in those same times. When you bring the two together you get a lot of interesting content. But there is another type of alien film that happens from time to time among the various types of film genre out there. And it is most often done through films aimed at children. When done right, this type of film can bring in lots of money from not only the kids but from their parents as well.

Short film makers of today much like those making a feature film, try to replicate that sense of amazement in a much shorter time and it does not always work. It is extremely difficult to pull off a film like this, I am well aware of that. Any type of animation is extremely difficult, particularly with so much film entertainment out there these days, but I think it is because of how much is out there that filmmakers do not have much of an excuse to do it badly.

If you are going to make an attempt at filmmaking, you have to do it right or do not do it at all. Earth is a film that tries to do it right but I do not think hits the mark. Claymation animation is very difficult but with so much out there why would you not put a little more work into it to stand out from the pack, or at least show that you are up to the standards of animation that exist? According to the filmmakers description they were trying to put forward a sense of adventure in the simplest of things in the world. I don’t know that they necessarily achieved that.

The fact that there was an alien there who could do so much and had so many powers kind of took me away from the simplicity of the objects and made me think of the animation that went into it. The best type of films which attempt to push the greatness of every day things often have the aliens be a reflection of us. Alien yes, but generally not powerful beyond belief. There are exceptions to this obviously but by and large this is the reality. Which I do not think was properly achieved.

Feel free to disagree with me by checking it out below or find more on Film Annex.

For a Gold Nugget More Review

Sometimes simplicity is the best thing for making movies today. There is so much going on in so many films across all types of film genre, whether it is CGI or cool camera angles or any number of different story twists and turns. So much so that people forget the power of simplicity in storytelling. It is something of a lost art when it comes to film entertainment today. The power of a simple look between characters or anticipation of what is coming can do more for people’s enjoyment then anything out there.

Which is not to say that the CGI and cool camera angles don’t do a lot for people after all they would not have been created and they wouldn’t still be used if people weren’t interested in watching movies like that. They can be some of the most entertaining films out there. But with all the flash and bang, filmmakers today have to rediscover the art of subtlety and ambiance. Otherwise we lose the substance of the story and turns people off.

For a Gold Nugget More is a film made by a filmmaker that understands this simplicity principle. Remi Parisse & Antoine Kinget have taken to heart these ideas and produced a simple short animated film that plays off people’s basic ideas and needs. A gold farmer digging for a piece of gold and a brutish simpleton conspires to take it from him. Most people above a certain age understand the concept of money and the desire for it, and there is no shortage of people looking for the opportunity to take it in the easiest way possible.

In the way of both of them is a simple sheep that acts more like the dog Gromit then an actual sheep. But again, we have the filmmakers playing off a basic element of human nature. The need for companionship and the cute nature of animals, you don’t get more simple then that. And yet the film has an element of sophistication with it in the way it presents the animated film. These are the kind of people that should do well in the industry over the long term.

Check it out below and you can see more at Film Annex.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Biotech 8 Review

Comedy is all about trying to figure out how far you can go in my opinion. When people go to see a stand-up comic, what the audience is often looking for is someone with a great sense of timing and a feel for the crowd. They may not say it specifically, but when a comic knows how to handle the people they are talking to then modifying what they are doing to fit. A few extra words or a change in the type of words being said can mean the difference between a laugh from the crowd and dead silence.

In a lot of ways, making movies today is the same way. How you say or do something in a film is a key component of film entertainment. The wrong word or phrase from an actor, whether it is scripted or not, can completely change the way a scene is thought of from the audience perspective. This is something that you have to be aware of when making something artistic, no matter what type of film genre you are working in. An upbeat moment in a horror movie only works if you do it in the right way.

Biotech 8 has in a lot of ways failed in this respect. There is a political undertone which over powers the comedy aspect a little too much. It begins as a traditional send up of a commercial. It makes fun of the corporate structure and the way people perceive some workers, but the genetically modified aspect goes a little too far. There could be other ways to deal with that subject without going the genetically modified way.

But more than that it turns into something akin to a horror movie at around the halfway mark and then tries to dig itself out of that at the end but never manages to get there. The tone is somewhat inconsistent. The politics of the film do not mesh with the attempt at comedy, which is not to say that it is not funny. It does have some moments that someone like me who is big on politics would find funny but they don`t really translate beyond that in my opinion.

It falls flat. It is trying too hard to be a comedy to really deal with the politics of the situation of either genetically modified foods or corporate views. And it is too political and takes too much of a dark turn to be really funny.

I think the filmmaker should focus on one or the other and there is a good chance that they will succeed at one or the other, or both.

Check out more at Film Annex.

Friday, 1 March 2013

TiM Review

Tim Burton has a particular type of style. When he first came onto the film scene and people noticed him, it was definitely something we hadn’t really seen before. He brought us dark tales of stories we had previously thought we understood so well. Some might say it even changed the way we are making movies today. He might have even created his own film genre. Most would agree that he was a power house in the film and entertainment industry once upon a time, a title that might not really apply to him today.

The fact that he was so prolific made him saturated and sought after. As a result, people aren’t as interested in what he does anymore. But needless to say his saturation inspired a whole group of young people to go into filmmaking. His work in animation in particular managed to get people to take the art form seriously in a way that hadn’t been.

One such person appears to be the writer of TiM. A cute little film very clearly inspired by the great Tim Burton. A black and white stop motion animation piece with an obvious understanding of what made the Burbank native great. The voice over poetry being used is both smart and simple enough to get to both an adult audience and a younger or child focused audience.

The short is simple in its story about a young boy who just doesn’t fit in with other people. Any child watching this would either understand exactly what Tim is going through or learn to treat their classmates better. But they do a great job making it great for older filmmakers as well. The rhyming of the poetry as a voice over is fun and not repetitive the way some poetry can be.

Overall it is a great little film that anyone who is looking for a good animator should get involved with. I say see it.

You can also find more at Film Annex.