In THE CARRIER by Holden Scott, Jack Collier dedicates his life to a radical cure of cancer to save his girlfriend–flesh-eating bacteria redesigned to eat tumors. But something goes wrong, turning him into a carrier of disease that consumes its victims in seconds. Great writing, Michael Crichton-quality blend of science and fiction, but a little too neat–e.g., the disease never becomes a plague–leaving me wanting.
In BELLFLOWER, filmed for just $17,000, two friends prepare for the apocalypse by building flamethrowers in their spare time. Then one falls in love, gets hurt, and the film descends into a tit for tat game of violent revenge that feels almost Shakespearean as the Mad Max fantasy becomes a bloody vengeance fantasy. The characters are compelling and the film has a unique feel, but the story might fall flat for some.
You know how you see a movie trailer, and think, wow, that is going to be awesome, only to find out the real movie is far from what you thought from the trailer–not as good? That is how I felt watching SCENES FROM THE SUBURBS, the short film by Spike Jonze based on an Arcade Fire album and an extension of the popular music video that came out last year. Boy, was I disappointed.
The film tells the story of a group of friends living in suburban Houston, focusing on Kyle and his best friend Winter. Bizarrely, every town in America is fighting every other town on the flimsiest of pretexts, and have their own professional armies that set up police states within their borders. When Winter’s brother “gets out,” presumably coming home from a war, Winter becomes increasingly recluse, to the point of rejecting his girlfriend and beating up Kyle for no apparent reason. (He seems to turn into his brother under similar pressures.) At this point the narrative breaks down and makes even less sense than the music video, if that’s possible. It is as if the entire short film were simply a way for the filmmakers to recreate their childhoods, but throw in some spooky RED DAWN stuff to create a titillating atmosphere of conflict so we don’t get bored.
The acting and direction are great. The kids were really well cast and produced an entirely convincing portrait of growing up in the suburbs. But I watched the story with a growing sense of impatience at the nonsensical plot development and unsatisfying ending in which nothing is resolved. As earthy and real as the central story of the kids was, the more false and artificial the police state elements of the film turned out to be, and the weirder Winter’s unexplained abrupt right turn into insanity. They should have just stuck with the story of the kids, and told it well, and left out the police state stuff, or they should have taken the police state concept seriously enough to have it be realistic, show the kids actually talking about it, and have the conflict between them stem more directly from it.
I loved the music video and waited a long time for this with a lot of excitement, but I was sadly disappointed.
Saw BATTLE FOR LOS ANGELES and loved the simplicity of the premise and the military perspective (hey Jonathan Liebesman, now do the same with zombies–adapt TOOTH AND NAIL!). Great action, effects. Loved it. But: The shaking cam made it almost impossible to see what was going on in the first half. Then the story appeared to keep stopping and starting. Would have worked better with calmer cam and 1 story arc imho.
Great trailer for Jeff Carlson’s PLAGUE YEAR. His PLAGUE series is hands down one of the best, if not the best, post-apocalyptic trilogy I ever read.
While looking through some old movies on YouTube I found this gem: SEVEN DAYS IN MAY starring Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas and other greats. The movie is about a military coup plot in the U.S. in the 1960s. One of the best movies ever. It appears that you can watch the entire movie on YouTube (I did not verify all of the clips, though)–check it out.