science fiction

AFI FEST: Day 1 (Friday)

I arrived at the Will Call line excessively early, which is to say that I arrived almost two hours before the screenings were supposed to start. Not entirely sure what to do or where to go, I milled around what looked like the Will Call booth. A few people had taken their seats behind the tables and the whole affair looked really fancy. I thought to myself more than once that this AFI Fest was in fact “really fancy.” A security guard walked over and I asked if this was the Will Call line. They said yes, and that I should stay in this area. When a regular pedestrian decided to pass through, the guard’s demeanor changed immediately and they told off the hapless wanderer. Heh.

After a few minutes of waiting, another security guard showed up. This one seemed more knowledgeable. He told those of us in the line that we needed to back up to the Will Call sign which was stationed boldly ten feet behind us. Line chaos ensued and we all reformed back at the new line. Somehow, I maintained the same spot.

Not too long after that I got bored and decided to check in to Foursquare. Noticed that a friend of mine had checked in and was in the nearby area. I texted to say I was waiting in line and they informed me that I was in the wrong one.


We met up at the correct box office and I grabbed my myriad of tickets. The guy behind the desk was nice and made sure to hand me an envelope with my tickets so I could have a safe place to store them all. I’m not a very coordinated individual, so I spent a good chunk of my time between the box office and my first screening trying to get those suckers tucked away.

Free Radicals: A History of Experimental Film
Directed By: Pip Chodorov
Rating: ★★★★☆

I’m a little inconsistent and finicky when it comes to documentaries in general. I like being introduced into worlds I’m not familiar with and educated on their histories, but I have little to no patience for being preached at. It’s why I consider This Film Is Not Yet Rated a terrible film, even though it’s subject matter is fascinating. I’d rather get information that I can later tack an opinion onto than have opinions thrown at me about something I know little about.

Free Radicals is a history lesson, and I’m quite okay with that. Knowing nothing of experimental film, this was a fascinating journey through various artists

Saw 2/3 of the film before having to duck out for the rush line for Rubber. Very fascinating documentary on experimental film. Then again, I like documentaries that tend toward history lesson versus having a strict agenda. Perhaps the best parts out of what I saw were the shorts that we got to see in their entirety. When I get a chance, I want to try and see this again.

Directed By: Quentin Dupieux
Starring: Stephen Spinella, Roxane Mesquida, Jack Plotnick
Rating: ★★★★★

Waiting in the Rush Line for this film was an interesting experience, and I think one that helped inform the film I was about to watch. Ahead of me were a large group of people that weren’t speaking English and laughing REALLY loudly, and behind me was a fellow and his father keeping strict count of the lines and trying to analyse their chances of making it in. The guy behind me mentioned once or twice that we should riot if we didn’t get in. His method of lighting garbage cans on fire and throwing them into the theater seemed like a terrible idea.

Why did I tell you that anecdote? It’s simple. No reason.

Rubber is a film whose main premise is that things happen for no reason. If you keep that in mind, you’ll enjoy the hell out of this film. The story is about people watching a movie about a rubber tire that can explode things with it’s mind. And that’s just the first twenty minutes. I wish I could formulate better what makes this film so great. It manages to poke fun at audience sensibilities and deconstruct B-movies all the while being a B-movie itself. The layers to this film pile on for a really fun and engaging experience. If you get a chance to see this film, don’t pass up the opportunity.

Directed By: Ivan Engler
Starring: Anna-Katharina Schwabroh, Martin Rapold, Regula Grauwiller
Rating: ★★★☆☆

It’s tough to be harsh on this film, considering it’s troubled production history. At the same time, I can’t give this film that glowing of a review. Cargo is an ambitious film that gets lost in it’s pacing and inability to focus on one plot thread for too long. The visuals, which stand out the most here, are a treat and give you a real sense of scope. I don’t think I’ve seen a sci fi film recently that gives me quite the menace of space that this film did. And the sound work was exquisite at minimum. Every piece of metal groaned and wailed under the cold and the overall ambience really helped to sell the more terrifying parts of this film. The acting was top notch and I bought that these people lived within this world.

Given how long it took to make the film, it’s understandable that the focus of the film would get mired. Still, you have to marvel at the end result with a meager $2 Million budget. This is an impressive film, and I REALLY hope I can see the next Ivan Engler film soon…provided it’s not a Western Musical.

(Stay tuned for Day 2, in which I see the most films I’ve ever seen in a day and I discover just how influential Michael Jackson really is!)

A New Torchwood? We’ll See

Jack Harkness is DEFINITELY too gay for Fox

Jack Harkness is DEFINITELY too gay for Fox

I keep hearing these rumblings that Fox wants to have their own Torchwood, set in the US with aliens and weird fringe science type stuff. The first thing to note is that it seems like Fox forgot about its OTHER show, Fringe (you know, the only science fiction show they haven’t canceled yet?). And we won’t even mention the recent bang up job that they did with a certain Joss Whedon property. Seriously, with as well as Fox handles what little science fiction they get, what do they want with a show about about an omnisexual, un-killable guy who fights weird aliens that pop out of a rift in time and space?

Furthermore, what room does the station that reneged on Dollhouse (shit, I said I wouldn’t mention it..) want with a show that featured two men having sex, or an alien cloud that needed the energy from orgasms to survive? If you go back and check the history books on Fox, you would notice that the station is hardly the one to go for an idea like Torchwood..


Unless they want to change it. And this is where I get all kinds of concerned. Science Fiction is on the downswing here in the states. There aren’t really any major sci fi shows with respectable numbers post BSG and those that are around currently are starting to experience a ratings drop. Even Caprica doesn’t seem like it will be enough to keep SyFy from turning into MTV: The Non-Science Fiction channel. Remember Sarah Connor Chronicles? Better yet, remember that update to Bionic Woman? What about Flash Forward? Journeyman? If other companies are having problems with the genre and all it’s sub genres, it would stand to reason that Fox isn’t doing so hot with them either. Really, the only way Fox could make Torchwood: US happen is if they changed it significantly to fit a wider demographic, i.e. taking out the overt sexuality and making Jack less than who he is now.

Seriously, people, if it ain’t broke..