Saturday, 29 November 2014

Selected - A Sci-Fi Neo-Noir mystery.


Details

Directing: Brennan Karem,

Produced by: Threshhold Films with Renes Rivera

Writing: Brennan Karem, Zach Karem,

Actors: Tim Abell, Zach Karem, Ron Millkie, Evgeniya Orudzheva, Renes Rivera

Country: USA

Language: English

Length: 39 Mins

I have to admit straight away that I have a problem with Zach Karem, I'm sorry Zach, but it really has to be said before I go any further. Apart from being a writer, producer and lead actor in this Sci-Fi short, he is also far too good looking In my opinion. Now some people may think that I'm being more than a little bit unfair and possibly a smidgeon more than a little jealous in that I'm simply letting my own petty insecurities and personal failings once again get the better of me. Well nothing of the sort.........maybe.

The thing is, I know for a fact that Selected was completely written, produced and edited by Zach and his brother, Brennan. Oh, and before I forget, they also produced the whole of the impressive VFX for the film. If you ask me there is far too much drive and talent there between them for any normal person. After all, my so-called talents amount to nothing more than scribbling a few pseudo-intelligent and half-amusing ramblings here on this blog and also in getting my dog to sit to my command - and quite frankly, the part regarding getting my dog to behave is not going particularly well, if the deposit left by the back door this morning is anything to go by. When you add to the recipe the good looks (of Zach, not me or my dog) then it could well be that I'm simply resorting to petty jealousy.

I admit it, I'm shallow, superficial and envious of talented people. 

So, Zach mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the film had been completed and was in fact nearing its world premiere at the Helen Mills theatre (that's in New York City, for those not in the know) and wondered if I'd be interested in watching an online link to Selected. I decided that it was right and proper to put my petty jealousies and insecurities aside for once and grab the coat-tails of some genuinely creative people and have a looksee at what Mr and Mr Karem have created.

Before I go any further, let me pass on to you a brief synopsis of the plot........

" New York city has been crime free of the past year thanks to an experimental crime deterrant system called ‘Selected’. The all-encompassing system has discouraged all crime as it tracks and literally freezes criminals the moment they break the law. Now Orion Tallis, a former NYPD police officer has become one of the detectives working for the ‘Selected’ system a year after his mother, who created and was the architect of the system, died in a car accident and is convinced that she was the last person to be murdered in New York City. In the process he finds out she developed a fail-safe chip to remove people from the ‘Selected’ grid. Now Orion is in a race against time to find out who killed his mother and what happened to her work……"

This is in no way meant as a form of negative criticism, but it's safe to say that Selected has a number of familiar themes and elements, particularly to those of us who love and revere the work of Phillip K. Dick. There are distinct echoes of Blade Runner (Do Androids dream of electric sheep?) and Minority Report, in the philosophical themes, the social commentary and the narrative of this story. If you add to that a flavour or two of classic neo-noir crime mystery (complete with a drop-dead gorgeous femme fatale) then you should catch the overall feel of the approach of the film.  

However, as I've previously mentioned, the obvious influences should not be seen as a criticism. On the contrary, the makers of Selected quite obviously have a genuine respect for the film's subject matter as the plot tracks the lives of a number of different characters as they cope with this new, all-encompassing security system that strives to completely eradicate murder from the human experience. What the result is an authentic appreciation, possibly even a homage, to familiar genre themes that also come complete with plenty of political corruption, murder and sex - and believe me, those are things one can never have too much of! Though I couldn't possible repeat those comments in a court of law.....again.

The acting throughout Selected is generally of good quality, with the seminal Ron Millkie producing a genuinely excellent turn as the not-to-be-trusted commissioner. Ron will will be familiar to horror fans from his memorable role as Officer Dorf in the original version of the horror classic, Friday the 13th (1980). The femme fatale role of Maya is played by Evgeniya Orudzheva. Now, I was wondering just what I could say about Evgeniya without incurring the legal wrath and threat of yet another restraining order. All I will politely say that her performance is excellent and convincing in its portrayal.........besides which, she is completely delicious (see, I couldn't help myself). The character of Maya reminded me a little of Sean Young's classic portrayal of Rachael in Blade Runner - which once again is no criticism at all, as she is quite simply a delightful counter to the character of Orion (played by the annoyingly talented Zach Karem). I don't want to overly inflate Zach's ego, but I must say that he has a nice range of well delivered one-liners in the story and his Sam Spade-esque voice-over is nicely done.

I'm assuming that the budget of Selected, like many first time Indie ventures, is not a particularly major one. The overall look of the film completely belies the probable budgetary restrictions, because visually it is simply lovely. The direction, editing and lighting have been thoughtfully combined not only to show off New York in all it's recognisable fineness, but to fully compliment the darker and edgier scenes that take place throughout. Add to that a number of impressive and convincing FX scenes and you have a veritable visual treat. 

It would be remiss of me not to mention that while Selected has a lot going for it, it isn't perfect. The ensemble cast, while mostly affective are let down by a couple of performances who seem to have erred down the side of over-egging their scenes. It would be grossly unfair of me to name the individuals due to the majority of the cast being very good. Indeed, this unevenness of performance isn't enough to let down the overall feel. In addition, at times the plot pacing becomes a little pedestrian with a couple of scenes that could probably have benefitted from 'tightening up'. However, these negatives are but minor.

There are some who may feel that the short running time and the nature of the ending the ending is less than satisfactory. However, Zach has advised me that the film should be viewed not as a stand alone piece but more along the lines of a TV pilot. He suggests that the universe in which the film takes place has a huge range of possibilities in what it has to offer. Their hope is they will be able to introduce a plethora of story-lines that in the future they want to pursue and broaden out.

And do you know what, dear reader? I have to agree with him. In 10 years time, when no doubt I'm still scribbling my self-indulgent musings here at my Mac, I sincerely hope and believe that I'll be looking back as the Selected being the first of a long and eventful journey in world where life is a right and murder is a privilege.


You can find the Facebook page for Selected RIGHT HERE

The Selected website, which has a whole heap of extra information about the film and its makers, can be found at http://www.theselecteduniverse.com




Sunday, 23 November 2014

Three film shorts from Jeremiah Kipp: The Minions, Painkiller & Berenice


Thoughtful. talented and enigmatic - 
talents that Jeremiah shares with me..............possibly.
I often forget, when I'm scribbling my often self-indulgent nerdy mutterings, that once I press 'publish' there are people out there in the scary old world who actually take time to read them. I know, I know - there's no accounting for taste, eh? Take for example the review I wrote a couple of blog entries ago for the new Indie horror, Phobia. Not only has the article had to date well over 500 views according to my blog stats history thingy, but it also garnered a veritable slew of positive feedback from a whole heap of people, which was nice. What was even nicer was that the review led directly to the excellent work of another film director after the man himself emailed me to say just how much I had liked my Phobia review and wondered if I'd be interested in looking a selection of his not inconsiderable body of work.

The man in question is Jeremiah Kipp, a New York City based writer, producer and director with over ten years experience creating narrative and commercial films to his name. Not only that, but he has worked with some noticeable names such as the redoubtable Tom Savini and Chris Sarandon.......not bad, eh? After the usual success anybody has after flattering me with praise, Jeremiah asked me if I would consider having a look at some of his short films for a blog feature. Well of course you know what my answer was, don't you? 

In all, Jeremiah sent me Super-secret online links for three of his short movies; The Minions, Painkiller and Berenice. Would I care to check on or two of them out? He politely asked. Forget that, was my reply, I'll check out all three! That's right, because as you all know me too well by now, besides being self-indulgent and shallow ramblings, I am also rather greedy.

THE MINIONS

"THE MINIONS is based on a true incident. The story is about being thrust into a desperate situation that requires mutual trust between strangers. 

Given the volatility of the circumstances and the uneasy state of mind of the characters, a lot can go wrong. And does."

We've all been there (well, many of us), one is simply walking along a night time city street minding ones own business, when around the corner are some seriously drunk individuals who may or may not be in need of some help. It has certainly happened to me on more than one occasion and to be honest, I'm not sure what is worst, when the drunks are a couple of loudmouth male Neanderthals, or a couple of legless (in the drunk sense of the word, not a missing appendage) giggling women. In The Minions, the second of those scenarios are what face our protagonist, William (played by the far too good-looking Lukas Hassel), after he has decided one evening to take a route through New York along The Witches Path, a path that has achieved urban myth levels of whispered supernatural danger. 

Of course, this is the movies (albeit just 11 minutes of movie) and so therefore this decision proves not exactly to be a straightforward one. William almost makes it to the end of the path, until he suddenly comes along two drunken girls, one of whom keeps collapsing in a heap to the floor. After debating whether or not to help them, he decides to become involved. Unfortunately for him, they are not merely a couple of drunk and defenceless girls, they are minions and that means that things are going to take a very different turn from what William was expecting from the evening.

The Minions is easily my favourite of the three offerings that Jeremiah sent me - that's not to say that the other two are not worthy, because they very much are. However this particular story hit an immediate chord with me for a number of reasons. To begin with, it works wonderfully in transforming a traditional Grimm-like fairy tale of being lost in the forest and being taken advantage of by supernatural forces, and instead sets the story in a modern sprawling urban city. I'm something of a country boy these days but I have spent much of my previous years living in the city, and until you've done the same, it is difficult to convey just how much a dynamic daytime urban landscape can so completely change in complexion when night falls. The feeling of isolation that one can feel within a previously bustling city when darkness comes and results in streets becoming empty, is palpable. So too is that feeling that some of the people one meets on a lonely city night can often seem 'slightly the wrong side of normal', a feeling that is often compounded when one gets 'trapped' in a one-sided drunken conversation. 

I know what you're thinking, you're sat there confused that you've never actually had that feeling when walking through an evening city landscape and thinking that there are strange people around you. Well have you considered that the person who is 'slightly the wrong side of normal' might actually be you?..........

This film nicely captures that sense of ever increasing isolation and, without hesitation, increases the pressure immeasurably throughout to result in a enigmatic and thought provoking climax.

The subtlety of the lighting and direction ,which perfectly conveys the ever encroaching supernatural atmosphere, Is nicely complimented by the quality of the acting. I'm sure that quite naturally, Lukas Hassel will deservedly get the majority of the acting plaudits. A running time of just 11 minutes is no time at all in terms of character development, yet Hassel skilfully carries us along with him on his journey of discovery. He is obviously far too tall and good looking for his own good (the same thing is often said of me....stop laughing you there at the back!) but I'll put any sense of jealousy aside. I would go as far as saying that he has a distinct captivating quality on screen in his almost note-perfect depiction of a man appalled, fascinated and excited by the events he is being drawn into.

A mention also needs to be given to the two minions, Cristina Doikos and Robin Rose Singer, who are both excellent in their respective roles. Doikos in particular provides a satisfyingly textured performance as Sarah who more than holds her own as a perfect equaliser to the character of William. The fact that she is also rather fabulous on the eye doesn't harm either....if that doesn't sound too shallow and superficial, which by my own admission, I very often am.

So we have an intelligent supernatural story that explores the human weaknesses that may well be within us all, featuring a fine cast and a well put together slice of movie production. My only major grip is that isn't isn't longer in length.

The Facebook page for The Minions can be found RIGHT HERE



PAINKILLER


"Painkiller is a dark, disturbing tale of addiction, abuse, and codependency that combines body horror and psychological terror. 

Two scientists (Kelly Rae LeGault, Thomas Mendolia) develop a radical solution for pain: an organism that thrives on suffering and rewards its host with pleasure. 

When one of the scientists volunteers as a test subject, however, the couple quickly discovers that the organism comes with a chilling side effect. The scientists turn to outsiders for help (Jill Di Donato, Jerry Janda), but can anything stop the organism before its appetite for agony consumes them all?"

You can call me an old soppy romantic, but I'm a real sucker for a dark twisted sado-masochistic love story where pain, pleasure and body horror blend seamlessly into each other. Painkiller features a loving theme that I'm sure that we're all familiar with; Boy meets girl. Boy persuades girl to experiment with combining pain with pleasure. Girl needs more and more pain until the boy has trouble keeping up. Boy calls another boy to help out with girl's pain addiction. We've all been there. 

This is without doubt the harshest, most brutal and unrelenting to watch of the three films sent to me by director, Jéremiah Kipp. Painkiller, written by Jerry Jander (who also appears in the film) once again (as with The Minions) deals with the inherent weaknesses of base human nature, namely a man being seduced by a desire or ambition that proves to be disastrous and ultimately costly.

I will admit right now that I'm not the biggest fan of so-called 'body horror' or 'torture porn' and while Painkiller may not quite fit into that rather extreme sub-genre it certainly does have its nasty blood soaked moments. Now, don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying that there isn't a place (or an audience, because that's obviously not the case) for this sort of material, Indeed, neither am I saying that I don't find merit in such works - and I'm certainly not saying that I disliked this movie, quite the contrary in fact.

What I'm trying to say. in my usual waffling method, is that one of the joys of this blogging lark is the occasional surprises that come my way to challenge my sometimes limited and constricting preconceptions about what I like to watch. Painkiller certainly has done that, and while it's not perfect, I found myself more engrossed for the 15 minute duration of the film than I anticipated I actually would be when I read the accompanying blurb beforehand.

Jeremiah & the team take 5 mins from filming to read the
latest blog article from the Fifth Dimension.....possibly.
The script by Jerry Janda, who also produced the film, provides a confident and measured pacing to the experience, something that some short story film makers forget. Instead some seem obsessed in trying to fill every screen moment with fast paced complex narrative. I was surprised to learn that this was Janda's first time at having a script filmed, such was the quality of his writing.

Jeremiah Kipp once again directs with astuteness in bringing to life Janda's characters which provides a nicely intelligent and convincing feel, not only to the lead couple's relationship, but also to the mutual destruction that is to ensue between them. Once again, Kipp doesn't fall into the trap of other movie-short makers by trying to get every directional trick that they ever learnt in film school class onto the screen.

There's enough here to satisfy the gore-hounds to an extent and the lesser gore-hounds like myself. I too must make special mention the special effects quality of the organism that has been produced - for a low budget short film the creature that has been produced is utterly convincing and pretty high up there on the 'yeuch' factor. The moment when it enters the host's body is simply wonderful - so much so so that this 'lesser gore-hound' rewound that part a couple of times to view it again.

The overall acting performances of the cast are mostly confident and convincing, with the two leads,  Kelly Rae LeGault, Thomas Mendolia who play the scientist and lovers being particularly excellent in their roles. However, the same cannot quite be said of Jerry Janda's appearance which is less confident and assured than the others, with his dialogue delivery at times early in the feature feeling stilted and over dramatised. It must be said though that as the film progresses his performance does become more assured, however, the role overall is the one less than convincing link in the chain. 

However, in general I was mesmerised and genuinely impressed (as well as surprised) in just how much I enjoyed a film of this uncompromising and relentless nature. Painkiller at it's core is a mean and nasty narrative about the human experience, but delivered by all involved with more than a modicum of intelligence and style - and it's all the better for it!

You can find information on how to purchase Painkiller at: http://painkillerfilm.com/2014/10/18/buy-or-rent-painkiller-today/ 

The Facebook page for Painkiller can be found RIGHT HERE



BERENICE

There is an achingly beautiful quality about Berenice, partly is has to be said from it being an adaptation of one of my favourite Edgar Allan Poe stores about the dark side of loves craving, but also because the adaptation itself nicely brings Poe's legendary shocking imagery to life.

This third and final selection from Jeremiah Kipp is one of a quartet of short films included in Creepers - Horror Anthology, Volume Two. Once again, we have a story that continues the fascinating theme of human weakness, personal craving and a relationship that at first borders and then veers of onto the wrong side of obsessive destruction. Blimey, another film that could be talking about my life!

"Erm, you've got something on your chin......no, left a bit"
I'm assuming that Jeremiah is fan of Poe's work because we have here a lovingly faithful retelling of a story about the obsessive love that a young man has for his cousin, or rather one part of her anatomy - and before you start guessing, it's not necessarily the part of the female anatomy that I (or you) may usually be obsessed with. The adaptation is faithful in the sense of the shocking themes that Poe included in his work, but also in remaining authentic to the time line of the original story. It is nice to see Kipp resist the temptation to make a Poe short story into a longer Hollywood friendly feature length version, on option that more times than not results in the watering down of Poe's horror. 

As a consequence, the 20 minute running time of Berenice is practically perfect. This factor is made more so by Kipp's direction, which is noticeably more sequential in style than the other two offerings in this article. This turns out to be something of a master stroke by the director because, while there is certainly a time & place for a more abstract time line, such as the one that takes place in The Minions, the more episodic flow here accentuates nicely the ever increasing horror of the story. The film's ending is meant to both shock and surprise the audience. It worked when Poe first produced the story (perhaps too well, judging by the horrified reactions at the time) and it works terrifically well here.

"So, er.....how often do you brush your teeth?.........."
As with many directors, whether they be indie or mainstream studio based, Kipp seems keen to use a familiar stable of actors and crew for his films. In this feature the leading man is once again played by Thomas Mendolia and thanks to a far more edgier role here,  if anything he is even more impressive than he was able to be in Painkiller. Mendolia perfectly conveys a character who is trapped by obsession, an obsession that is deeply layered and ultimately deeply flawed. Cheryl Koski is also quite remarkable, both in terms of talent and easiness on the eye, in the title role of Berenice as the object of her cousin's ultimately horrific desires. 

When Edgar Allan Poe's story of Berenice was first read to audiences, the reaction to the ending was one of real shock and controversy. This film version is 15 minutes of fine ensemble acting and a genuinely sympathetic treatment of genuinely chilling subject matter. Once again Kipp has the nerve and temerity to actually ask the audience to think about what they are seeing on the screen, and just as importantly, what they are not seeing on the screen. Poe had the power to deal with a multitude of psychological themes in his work, thankfully Kipp produces a piece of work here that deals satisfyingly with each of the layers of this deceivingly complex story.

It is a treat for the eyes and ears and well worth checking out for yourself. 

Berenice, this fine adaptation of the Edgar Allan Poe story, is part of a horror anthology called "CREEPERS" and is out on DVD right now. It is available for order at creepersfilm.com 


Jeremiah Kipp's Biography.

His directing credits include THE SADIST starring Tom Savini, MASTERMIND starring Chris Sarandon, THE POD starring Larry Fessenden, CONTACT (commissioned by Sinister Six annual screening series), THE DAYS GOD SLEPT (Best Director-HorrorHound 2014), CRESTFALLEN, THE CHRISTMAS PARTY (Cannes and Clermont-Ferrand), EASY PREY (commissioned by NYC's annual VisionFest), DROOL (commissioned by Mandragoras Art Space), SNAPSHOT and THE APARTMENT (commissioned by Canon to premiere their XL2 at DV Expo 2004). Producing credits include the feature films SATAN HATES YOU (created by Glass Eye Pix, starring Angus Scrimm, Michael Berryman and Reggie Bannister), GOD'S LAND, LET'S PLAY, IN MONTAUK, THE JONESTOWN DEFENSE and THE BED-THING (directed by Pulitzer Prize-nominated Matt Zoller Seitz). Assistant director credits include I SELL THE DEAD starring Dominic Monaghan, SOMEWHERE TONIGHT starring John Turturro, ONE NIGHT starring Melissa Leo, and the Sundance Award-winning MAN (dir: Myna Joseph).

For more information about the work of Jeremiah Kipp, then visit his website at http://kippfilms.com/main.html









Saturday, 22 November 2014

Future Preston Tours presents TRON - 29th Nov

Future Preston Tours presents TRON – Saturday 29th November 2014 at 53 Degrees

Some people may say that receiving an email requesting help to promote a themed event for the very same film which I was at that very same moment watching on DVD at home was some sort of spookily cosmic happening. Maybe, but probably not. The fact is that the movie in question is in my all-time top 20 films (though that list does tend to change on an almost daily basis) and that I must by now have watched it far more times than should be regarded normal for any adult probably reduces the level of coincidence rather a lot, methinks.

I had originally put a blog piece together some weeks ago when Future Preston Tours was first explained to me, I was immediately intrigued, partly because of the innovative plans that the organisers had in mind, but also because in my mind Preston & innovative excitement had never gone together in the same thought. Obviously, no offence is meant to the people of Preston so please don't send people up here to Scotland to give me a good kicking as I'm still trying to avoid the last group that I offended.

So it was my pleasure to be asked again to help put the word out for the final act of Future Preston Tours. I can only imagine that the organisers had been so overwhelmed with the quality of my blog and the interest that my article had created on their behalf. Either that or they were desperate for any old hack and simply had run out of other alternatives after first asking the people who actually had some merit - I'll leave that up to you to decide.

They Eat Culture (TEC) is a direct creative intervention into the cultural life of Preston and Lancashire. They programme, commission, & produce quality arts & cultural work, and run culturally engaging, in-deep projects co-designed with communities. Throughout the past couple of months they have been responsible for delivering Future Preston Tours - the Preston content for the BFI's Sci-Fi: Days of Fear & Wonder season . The plans for innovative, immersive and non-traditional screenings of science fiction movie classics ( in the truest sense of the word) began with  E.T: The Extra Terrestrial, which took place at secret locations around the city. Now TEC's season finale is ready, and it's a Beauty.

I first saw Tron on its original release in 1982 and if I remember correctly, I was one of the few to fall in love with it from the very beginning. Lets face it, the film wasn't exactly welcomed with overflowing critical and commercial success when it first hit the cinema. This was a fact that which at the time somewhat perplexed me, I seem to remember watching it in a half full cinema in that first week of release and simply couldn't understand the lack of enthusiasm. After all, its stunning originality in terms of look and technological innovation should have meant instant adoration. Instead for some reason it was often ridiculed in its early life - and unfairly so. It took Tron, like others at the time such as Blade Runner, a number of years to reach the heady status that it attains now and as a consequence is quite rightly regarded as one on the major science fiction works of it's time. And do you know what? When I saw Tron again on DVD earlier this week on my rather fab brand spanking new high definition TV, it looked as visually stunning as ever, if not more so.

For the very few of you out there in Internetland who may have suffered the criminal misfortune of never having seen this gem of a film, here's a brief synopsis, courtesy of TEC......

"After having his arcade game ideas stolen by sinister company exec Dillinger (David Warner), a young genius called Flynn (Jeff Bridges) hacks into the company’s mainframe only to be literally sucked headlong into the system by the all-powerful ‘Master Control Program’. There he strikes up an alliance with heroic security programme Tron (Bruce Boxleitner) and together they fight their way through a series of deadly game scenarios involving fatal frisbees, lethal lacrosse, and impossibly fast ‘light cycles’, to depose the MCP and Dillinger’s game-world doppelgänger, Sark."
 
Fans of groundbreaking 80s sci-fi adventure Tron are all set for the night of their lives when Future Preston Tours offer up the chance to experience the classic film like never before on Saturday 29th November. Prepare to be immersed in a neon-lit, retro-fitted video game world, with live music, DJs, game tournaments, and exciting interactive performance, along with a licensed bar and after-party until late. 

This Tron Experience will act as the closing party for Future Preston Tours, a series of themed events across the city organised by cultural production team They Eat Culture, working alongside Film Hub North West as an official part of the British Film Institute’s nationwide Sci Fi: Days of Fear & Wonder season. Events in the run-up based around the films Dredd and E.T: The Extra Terrestrial have been roaring successes and the TEC team just can’t wait to see what the good people of Preston will make of this one. 

The Tron tour meets up at Preston’s Bus Station, where ticket holders will be guided through an immersive gaming experience where they are taken on a journey through future Preston. In teams they will “discover ever-changing environments, solve puzzles and most importantly, safely transport the disc of light”. The trail leads to Fylde Road’s 53 Degrees, venue of the screening, late night bar and after-party, where they’ll be further immersed in the computer world of Tron.

Future Preston Tours presents Tron takes place from 6pm on Saturday 29th November. Tickets are £12 and are available from Skiddle, SEE Tickets, Preston Visitor Information, The Continental and The Ferret. 

The Facebook event page for the event can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/849217105112018/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular

For more information, They Eat Culture can be reached via their website at http://theyeatculture.org

Their Facebook page is RIGHT HERE

You can follow They Eat Culture on Twitter via their twitter type name of  @theyeatculture


 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Granite City Comic-Con update - the Darkside Fundraiser, 30th November in Aberdeen.

Blimey, doesn't time fly? It's hard to believe we're now less than six months away from Aberdeen's inaugural Granite City Comic-Con, which takes place on 30th May 2015. In the last week or so I've been chatting to Morgan, one of the organisers of the event, to try and pester GCCC into arrange a little bit of further involvement of The Fifth Dimension in some small part. Now, some people may call my reactions to not getting my own way as amounting to a major sulky strop of gigantic proportions. However,  I'll have you know that I don't sulk, I merely take a few moments to think and ponder. The fact that I might have the sulkiest look in the history of sulky looks while I am 'thinking' about such matters is purely coincidental - just ask my friends (yes, I do have some........well, a few) and family. Actually, that might be a bad idea if you do, as they would probably disagree that I do indeed sulk. Which I don't......

"This is the Comic-Con that you're looking for"
(see what I did there?)
I'm not saying that I would have began stalking GCCC headquarters and indefinitely hanging around the electrocuted metal gates that surrounds their compound, until someone finally relented, and either called the police or just gave in to my pesterings. I also couldn't possibly comment that I was in the process of gathering supplies and warm camoflage clothing in anticipation for a considerable period of time of camping outside their barbed-wire fences. I had my bolt-cutters, my bag of raw meat for the GCCC guard dogs and my placards with "GCCC NEEDS 5D!!* were painted and almost dry. I was good to go in the the anticipated war of attrition until I finally ground them down into talking to me. It usually works,  The Fifth Dimension blog was going to help in publicising the Comic-Con event, whether they liked it or not.

As it turned out, it seems that not for the first time in my life, I had maybe misjudged the situation (which apparently as I found out once, is NOT an acceptable defence in a court of law) as my first email received a prompt and gracious acceptance of help. So after putting away my bolt cutters and giving the raw meat to my own dogs (minus the intended tranquilliser, of course), I began chatting with Morgan.

In the very near future I hope to be arranging an interview with the team responsible for organising the event next May and get them to talk about Granite City Comic-Con, in all its wonderfully nerdy glory. So far there have been some very exciting announcements of names of who will be appearing, a full round up of which I'll write about to accompany my interview with the team, next time.

I think that it needs to be reiterated that GCCC is a non-profit venture as all the proceeds are going towards the local Aberdeen charity, Clan cancer support. So at the moment Morgan and the boys are pushing the latest funding event - the Darkside Fundraiser at the Tunnels, In Aberdeen on 30th November.

The 'Ana-King' of Rock & Roll'
....sorry, I'll get my coat.
It not only promises to be a great night with loads of entertainment, cosplay and a raffle containing some great prizes, but the money raised on the evening will be split between the continuing costs of the Comic-Con event and the rest going to Clan cancer support. If that wasn't enough to entice you to go, the fact that I may not be able to make it to the evenings events due to prior commitments may be the final plus for many people, methinks.

So for those of you reading this in the North East of Scotland area, go along on the night of the 30th of November, it's going to be great. 

For example, one of Aberdeen's own, with their wonderful mixture of rock n roll, comedy & outlandish performances, DARTH ELVIS & THE IMPERIALS, will be performing there on the night. 
Joining the Sci-Fi king of Rock & Roll, the line-up will also include NYMPHERNO DA CARAVAGGIO, who wowed audiences at this year's May The Fourth Star Wars event with her Darth Talon burlesque performance. 

Nympherno is an apparently an amazing performer with a penchant for all things Sci-fi............I as yet haven't seen Nympherno in action, as it were, but I have just googled her, again, as it were..... well let's just say that after doing so I may have to rethink my decision not to be there on the 30th. All I will say is.....wow.

I'll admit it, the dark side has its merits......
DJ JIMSIN will also be spinning the best in nerdy tunes until late - and apparently there may yet be more acts to announce! There will be reduced admission for anybody turning up in fancy dress / cosplay with a Sci-fi / comic theme & a special prize for the best costume. 

And what would a fundraiser be without a raffle? Their first prize is a £140 (a 2-hour tattoo session) gift voucher from the evening's sponsors OWLCAT ARTIST COLLECTIVE, with many more fabulous prizes up for grabs. They also have stalls, Cosplay and more.

So that's THE TUNNELS, 30th NOVEMBER, 8PM-LATE, £5 DOOR (or £3 for those in fancy dress / cosplay) with the first performance at 9:30pm.

If you want to know more about the fundraising evening, or more about the acts appearing there on the night, then visit the Facebook page link at https://www.facebook.com/events/391253277691877/?fref=ts

The Granite City Comic-Con website can be found RIGHT HERE

The Facebook page for Granite City Comic-Con can be located HERE


  


Sunday, 9 November 2014

Phobia (2014)

I
I'm going to get this little matter off my chest straight away, so hopefully the director Rory Abel and the rest of the Phobia team will forgive me if I slightly digress for a moment (yeah, like THAT never happens, I her you mocking). The thing is that I love my American friends, I really do. However........can we please get one thing straight between us right now. The word Agoraphobia is actually correctly pronounced ' AG-RO-PHOBIA  - not blooming 'AGORAPHOBIA. Let me repeat....there is no syllable of OR, it may look that way, but it's NOT pronounced as such.......I'm sorry, I'm not usually a fully paid up member of the grammar or pronunciation police, but there you go. Some people fight for world peace, some for gender or sexual equality. Me, I fight for the correct pronunciation of a particular word. Yes, my life is total Rock & Roll. 

That little rant (once again, apologies for that) leads me nicely onto a request that I had a couple of weeks ago as to whether I would like to review a brand new horror feature, Phobia. This came about after my review of another independent horror feature for a mutual friend, the film was the very fine Gut. If you haven't read the review then go to the previous posts section on this blog and find it.......go on, I'll sit here and wait for you to come back once you've finished.....it's OK, I'm to doing anything else of interest or importance right now, is it?........

Still waiting........

You've read it? Excellent. I won't ask you just how much you enjoyed the review, I'll just take it for granted that you loved it. (Yes, the weather here on planet ME is wonderful, thank you very much). 

Anyhoo, film director, Rory Abel, intimated in an email to me that my review of Gut was reasonably acceptable in an OK sort of way and wondered if I would like him to send to me a copy of his yet unreleased film in order for me to do another average attempt at a review. Now as my regular reader will know, I'm anybodys for a free DVD so I happily agreed to the request. A week or so later a nice little package containing a preview disc arrived all the way from the U.S of A to here in not so sunny right now in Scotland. And now, after illness annoying got in the way, some weeks later I've finally been able to watch, and now muse just a little on the fine psychological horror film that is Phobia.
So let me give you a tasty little synopsis of the movie before I go any further...

"Oh shit....Er, Darling I think I've glued my head to the window.....again"
"Jonathan MacKinlay is a man trapped inside his home by his own mind. Suffering from agoraphobia, caused by a car accident that also took his wife's life, his existence has been reduced to a monotonous repetition of identical days. 

However, a home invasion shatters his safe haven and possibly his mind. Soon he finds that he might no longer be alone in the house. Something evil lurks in the darkness, preying on his fears and self-loathing. Is it real or just a figment of his imagination? He'll have to survive to find out."

Now remember, before I go any further - it's pronounced 'AG-RO-PHOBIA'.

From the outset Phobia rather confidently takes its time to gradually peel back the layers of the protagonists flailing psyche - and I like that. The term 'slow-burner' seems to have unfortunately become akin to something of a veiled mocking criticism regarding the pacing of certain contemporary indie-horror productions. I think that's a shame. So when I refer to this film as being a slow-burner it is meant as genuine compliment, because the pacing for the most part is lovingly detailed and patient, not only in the intelligent way it deals with the condition of Agoraphobia, but also in the way that the tension and chills are slowly increased as the plot progresses.

Michael Jefferson takes the method acting approach just
a little too far
Ahh, fab- another film that actually treats its audience with a modicum of intelligence by asking it to actually think about what is taking place on (and off) screen. All too often the so called 'hidden theme or concept' within the narrative treated with the dexterity and subtly of a sledgehammer to the face, instead of considering for a moment that some of us like a little ambiguity in a movie. For instance, the central theme of Jonathan's ever worsening phobic condition as the film progresses is skillfully handled both in front of, and behind the camera. So thankfully, it is never rammed home in ones face whether or not the increasingly violent visions and experiences that are affecting the lead character are simply a manifestation of his psychosis or whether the explanation is actually for more of a paranormal one. It's either that or maybe I'm just a bit thick and wasn't able to identify the clues either way. No doubt my regular reader will have already made up his/her mind about my intellectual attributes.

A film of where the the vast majority of the plot takes place in such a confining environment will naturally rest on on the central performances from the cast, a important factor which can occasionally be something of a problem for the occasional indie production. However, thankfully we don't have that particular problem in Phobia as the lead actor, Michael Jefferson is quite excellent as the psychologically or paranormal lay tortured Jonathan. He handles some of the more tricky emotional set pieces with a fair degree of assured confidence and skill and suitably conveys the appropriate levels of impending and increasing psychosis. That is, if it is actually psychosis.......

"Now I want you to sit at the bottom of the stairs
until you've thought about what you've done"
The equally important supporting roles again, unlike some indies, nicely compliment the central performance with Emma Duberry being suitably confident and convincing as the delivery woman, Bree, who befriends Jonathan. Again, the filmakers confidently take their time for us to witness their relationship beginning to show signs of evolving into something more of a romantic nature - that is, if the terrors that are affecting Jonathan will let that happen....

The convincing performances are brought to us in no small form by the assured direction of Rory Abel and the clever cinematography and lighting throughout which helps convey an ever increasing feeling of isolation and psychological suffocation.

It's not just the human contributions that nicely flesh out the story, because an extra dimension to the feel of the film is very nicely provided by another important character - the house itself. It's a brave move to keep the virtually the whole of the narrative taking place inside just one location, but it works. The house itself with it's maze-like labyrinth of small confining rooms nicely add a delicious layer of ever increasing claustrophobic and confusing element to Jonathan's psychological plight. As the tagline from the film poster says - " You can't escape what's already inside". That could be reference to Jonathan's mind, or maybe it refers to the house? I'll leave for you to make up your own mind.

Phobia is a very good film that could have been truly excellent if not for a couple of minor issues that affect (albeit only a little) the overall experience. For example, the objective of letting the characters and plot 'breathe and develop' occasionally becomes a trifle overdone with a couple of scenes which merely meander and occasionally virtually repeat themselves, so adding little extra to the plot or audience experience. In fact, he result of this is that for a short time two thirds of the way through the film almost loses itself and with it the audience - almost but not quite. In addition the normally excellent dialogue throughout occasionally seems a little cliched and forced in one or two of the scenes.  
I'm pretty sure that's not a letter opener......

However, these negative considerations are not enough to spoil what on the whole is a hugely enjoyable journey into the potential psychosis experienced by traumatic events - or maybe we are witnessing the journey of an individual into the Paranormal? I'll leave that up to you. Nevertheless we are left with a genuinely exciting and satisfying emotionally charged climax.

Highly recommended. However, if you don't believe me, then I can tell you that Phobia has been nominated fore a whole slew of festival nominations - in fact Matthew Barnes and Rory Abel,  won Best Screenplay for their script at the fabulously named Salty Horror International Film Festival only a few weeks ago. You could also check out the excellent trailer below.




AG-RO-PHOBIA..............

If you want to find out more about Phobia and its impending release in Novemeber, visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/PhobiaMovie/timeline


BFI: Sci-Fi Days of Fear and Wonder at Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT)

For those of you that don't know me or much about me, well I have two things to say about that. Firstly, well you can probably count yourselves very lucky having escaped my attentions. Secondly, that I live in gods own region of gods own country - the North East of Scotland. It is a beautiful place full of amazing history, landscape and tradition and no doubt somewhere that I will probably spend the rest of my (probably numbered) days calling home. The major problem is that when it comes to Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror events, festivals and the like, well let's just say that few ever find their way up as far as Aberdeen (and that's 50 miles DOWN from were I live on the Moray Firth). 

Now before many of you start sending to my email inbox outraged messages reminding about me about the three excellent comic book stores in the city, or about the very fabulous and exciting Granite City Comicon that will be taking place in May 2015......I know I know!.....My point is that when it comes to fabulous events, Glasgow, for example, always tends to get the lions share of all the good stuff. For crying out loud, even Dundee had it's own comic con before we did. However, don't get me wrong, I have absolutely nothing against Glasgow, in fact I love the place, it's a great city. I just wish for example, that when the BFI's Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder season was being planned that we might have had something of the excellent things that are happening elsewhere, up here. Bitter, Moi? Well probably not as such, hopefully you'll know what I'm trying to say.

Earlier this week I received an email from the marketing & Press officer at the Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) to ask me if I'd be interested in doing what little (my description, not hers) I could to help publicise their program of events taking place during November and December, which forms part of the pure fabity fabness that has been the BFI's Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder season.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, the level of activity at Fort Fifth Dimension has been rather manic recently with a regular influx of requests from various parties asking if I'd like to do a little bit of this, or a little bit of that, for them. Of course, I'm always flattered by requests of any kind, though the request from an anonymous reader some time ago that I take my blog and shove it where the sun never shines proved not only physically impossible but also to be more than a little rude and inappropriate on their part.

However, the request from GFT was slightly more appropriate (& less painful) so I was quite keen to help. This keenness turned pretty quickly into genuine and uncontrolled delight (and yes, envy) when I read what GFT had in store as their programme. However, before I tell you a little bit about the events that are lined up, here's a little bit of information about Glasgow Film.

The beautiful foyer of the Glasgow film Theatre
Glasgow Film, which encompasses both Glasgow Film Theatre and Glasgow Film Festival, is at the heart of the cultural life of the city and the moving image industry in Scotland.

Glasgow Film believes cinema is for all. So we reach many audiences and customers and different communities. We want more people to experience great cinema, more often and to meet with the people who work in the film and moving image industries.

Glasgow Film is a not for profit organisation: a social enterprise linking people with world ideas through the power of cinema, promoting the cultural value of moving image work and the social benefits of collective experience of cinema, while not forgetting the magic of the movies
."

To be honest, the programme of events for the GFT's involvement in the BFI Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder season is far too detailed to do it credit in this blog piece, so I will be mentioning just a few tasty morsels to wet your appetite. However, the website for the Glasgow Film Theatre which can give you much more detailed information of the programme of events for their part in the BFI's Sci-Fi: Days of Fear and Wonder season can be reached at  http://www.glasgowfilm.org/theatre/whats_on/season:sci_fi_days_of_fear_and_wonder
Go & get 'em my gal

A few particular highlights immediately caught my eye as I perused the multitude of screenings that are taking place throughout November and December at GFT.

For a start there are special director’s cuts (and far superior) of Alien and Aliens, a new digital print of the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and a just-announced screening of the simply sublime Blade Runner: The Final Cut, on Sunday 14 December, ahead of its nationwide reissue on Friday 3 April 2015.

They also have a special focus on director Stanley Kubrick, with the re-release of 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Stanley Kubrick’s brother-in-law, confidant and regular executive producer, Jan Harlan, will attend the screening of A.I Artificial Intelligence, on Wednesday 10 December. Harlan will give the audience the insider’s story of what it was like to work with Steven Spielberg to bring Kubrick’s original, unrealised vision for the film to screen. Not only that, but the screening will be using the brand new digital print created by Warner Bros which means that it is going to look been more stunningly beautiful than it ever has before.

2001 - in a beautiful new print
GFT have also teamed up with Glasgow Women’s Library to programme Teknowomen, a season of films that charts the depiction of women in Science Fiction. As well as three screenings at GFT, two events will take place at Glasgow Women’s Library, including Wonder Women! The Untold story of American Superheroines, which will be followed by a discussion with broadcaster, author and journalist Muriel Gray, author Zoë Strachan and comic artist Gill Hatcher.

If all that wasn't enough, with the help of programme partners Africa in Motion, Africa at the door of the Cosmos introduces the brilliance of African Sci-Fi and Afrofuturist films to GFT audiences, offering bold and imaginative visions of the continent and its diaspora. 
The Last Angel of History

Specially-curated African sci-fi shorts programme Visions of the Future, will tour to four UK venues, while other screenings at GFT will include John Akomfrah’s influential cinematic essay The Last Angel of History, and the beguiling Space is the place, starring legendary jazz giant Sun Ra.

Now just how good does all that sound!

Remember, this program of events at GFT only takes place in November and December. So get yourself up there (or down there) to Glasgow and see a wonderfully diverse range of the highest quality in Science fiction. 


To find out more, the GFT website is RIGHT HERE