Grounded: A beautiful short that’s a little too enigmatic

Browsing io9 this morning I noticed they were promoting a short film called Grounded. It’s beautifully shot and well worth sitting through. Here’s a link to the film:

Because there is no dialogue what we are watching is essentially a silent film. We are reliant on the actors, music and imagery to let us in on what the story is about.

There is a story however I felt that it was trying a little too hard to be enigmatic. A significant look here, a flinch there and a (stunning) piece of action is not enough. Clearly the director has been heavily influenced by the mystical denouement of 2001: A Space Odyssey but I would like to know why we’ve gone to this planet and who the characters are.

Watch it anyway.  Despite my misgivings it’s only 8 minutes long and it never ceases to amaze me what film makers are now able to do with very little budget.

The Girl and the Fox

I have a soft spot for childhood tales and here’s one that takes me back to when I was a lad. Back then, forests were large, sometimes intimidating, places where nature seemed both forbidding and magical. This film took me right back. I’ll quote the synopsis, you should watch the video…

Ilona, a nine-year-old girl who lives in the wilderness with her mother and father, has fallen on hard times. Supplies are running low, and when a mysterious fox starts killing their livestock, she has no choice but to track down the strange creature in order to ensure the survival of her family.

You can read a little more at the site The Girl and the Fox.

The Esoteric Fantasy of Vaesen

Vaesen is great little animation I found today and I’d like to share it.  Watch the video below.

It’s the Bachelor project of Adrian Dexter.  According to this interview Adrian:

… I wanted Rankin-Bass on acid, written by Borges.

He got my attention.  The animation style is more esoteric than most mainstream productions and reminds me of Shakespeare: The Animated Tales.  There’s no dialogue, just post-rock themes and it has a dreamy quality that I really enjoyed.  For those interested, if you click here, you can watch a short making-of.

Short Film: Archetype

I’ve been keeping an eye on this little short for a while.  It got flagged up as part of my project on future film making.

Watch this film.

It’s about a combat robot that develops feelings.  Or is it?

An archetype is something very typical or original that has been imitated.  Bear that in mind when you watch the film.  In terms of Science Fiction the concept isn’t exactly new but it is extremely well executed.  I don’t think this is surprising considering he’s worked in make up and effects since 1985.  Among his credits is work on Sucker Punch (visuals not story … thankfully), Incredible Hulk and The Mist.   If you watch right to the end you will get to see some of his concept art for how he wants to take the story forward.   According to this interview he’s interested in making a full length feature.  I hope he does.

If you’re interested in the background of the film of the film then take a look at the making-of and gallery over on the official site:

The future of SF film making?

It seems that, if you want creative, high quality, genre films then it’s best not to rely on the big film/TV houses.   Yes these films get made but very often genre cinema  is reduced to by-the-numbers box ticking.  It’s my belief that low quality unsatisfactory film making is one of the drivers of piracy and potentially falling numbers at the cinema*. And yet there is an appetite for quality thought-provoking stories, you only have to look at District 9 or Inception to see that people don’t just want entertainment they want to use their heads a little as well.

The entry price for making films is actually dropping.  The cost for quality equipment –  previously a barrier – has got to the point that independent film makers can create films on small budgets that are extremely effective.  In other words the days when only a handful of people can make Star Wars are coming to an end.   It is just possible that there will come a time when we don’t need to rely on large corporations to make cinema quality art.  These houses have a part to play and will always be here in some form (I actually think this is a good thing) but, like television, I can see a time when someone who wants a particular kind of story can get it from various channels.  If the big boys aren’t making your space opera … maybe someone online is – and they’re making it well while infusing it with their own unique style.  In many ways it seems that this is harking back to the days of early cinema.

I’ve already made a couple of posts on this topic. Rather than reuse the same blog title I’ll add a new category – The Future of Film.  I’ll tag the short films I come across with this and for each film I intend to write as much information on the creative team that I can discover without boring everyone.

*Of course there’s more to it than that.

Is the future of big directors small films?

So what has Val Kilmer been up to these days?  Last time I saw him, I didn’t – he was the voice of KITT in the short lived Knight Rider remake.   I know he’s famously hard to work with but it seems a shame to leave him on the scrap heap – he was pretty good in Heat.  Today I found out.  He’s in the new Coppola movie Twixt.  Here’s the trailer:

What a weird film.  Looks like any King novel (they even joke about that) and what’s with the writer’s block speaking into the camera schtick?  Despite its strangeness I am intrigued and I’d rather be intrigued and see something interesting than something bland.  I’m looking forward to it.

For some really weird reason it reminds me of John Carpenter’s The Mouth of Madness.

Is the future of films with big ideas still small? …2

I stumbled across a gorgeous trailer for a new SF short called Archetype.  Looks great.  If the film matches the trailer then I am sold.  Here’s the synopsis:

RL7 is an eight foot tall combat robot. Only problem is he’s starting to remember once being human. Now on the run from an all powerful corporation that will stop at nothing to destroy him RL7 desperately searches for the truth behind his mysterious memories before it’s too late.

Sounds a bit Robocop but still here’s the trailer.

He’s My New Best Friend

A while ago I wondered whether the Future of Films With Big Ideas Was Still Small? Now I wonder whether the same is true of those that are small.  I’ve just watched Blinky.  It’s an evil robot story (which has been  done and done and done).   The writer-director (Ruairi Robinson) clearly knew that his idea wouldn’t sustain a full length feature and kept it small and intimate.  It works.  The film is just long enough to set up the characters and  draw the world we’re in then deliver the story.  Somebody should give this guy a proper film to make.

Is the future of films with big ideas still small?

Having just watched a short film called Stasis I’ve found myself wondering how far film making has come?  Big idea SF has largely been the perserve of small independent films since the 70s – certainly since Star Wars.  Back before then large scale SF was being made regularly.  You could go to a cinema and see a seriously handled big concept SF idea on the screen and enjoy yourself.  Towards the end of the 70s these become less common and are virtually extinct by the end of the 80s. The mainstream became dominated by franchises, tent-pole films and action films in SF trappings.  Now; don’t get me wrong, I really like a lot of these movies and I certainly don’t think there’s anything wrong with well executed pure entertainment (a recent example might be Predators) but I would like to see some of the better elements of SF put up on screen again.  My big hope is that Inception marks a turning point.

A man floating in a tank... what's going on exactly?

All of which is a long winded way of saying watch Stasis.  It’s really good.