Tag Archives: science fiction

Graffiti: A Short Film Review

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Seven years after an unnamed apocalypse, lone survivor Edgar (along with his beloved puppy, K.O) wander a urban wasteland. Edgar spends his days scouring local buildings for supplies and marking contaminated zones with spray paint warnings and signals for help.

From the first frame the audience is taken on a brutal journey of brutal isolation as we follow Edgar (Orial Pla) through the cold and decaying cityscape, both depressing and still strangely beautiful. And that, right there, is perhaps the greatest charm of the film.

Director Lluís Quílez does a masterful job at creating a stark, bitter, but still utterly believable world. Quílez captures not only the grand sense of loss but the simple, even monotonous existence of his protagonist. Throughout I was constantly reminded of the feel of first half of I Am Legend (in the best possible way). Special kudos to Quílez for his research, as Edgar’s own warning symbols bear an uncomfortable resemblance to the FEMA marking system used during actual disasters.

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A fantastic job is done of showing the mundane, day-to-day “chores” of living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Which is something I’ve ironically always found to be one of the most interesting parts of the genre, but I’m weird like that.

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Seriously- just look at this…

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NEON: Our Illuminating Interview with Director Mark Blackman

neonThe week before last we at CWR were given the opportunity to review a sci-fi thriller short film called NEON. In addition to that director Mark J. Blackman was also kind enough to answer a few of our questions about his work. He did change my correct spelling of “favorite” to the British-Canadian “favourite” (because he and all his lobsterback brethren are a bunch of heathens) but we’ll try not to hold that against him.


NEON definitely presents some surprises with the development of the story. What was the inspiration behind the plot?

The truth is, NEON was a story that just wouldn’t die, based on a very graphic, stark image of a man silhouetted in the rain who had fallen from grace and was the epitome of a lonely heart.

I was trying to work out what this man wanted and what had got him into such an emotionally dire predicament.  I awoke in the middle of the night just knowing it was about love and shame: it was about keeping another out of love’s way for your own selfish desires – and then it all just clicked: the tone, the mood, the emotion, why it was raining, why he was bald and his place in the world around him.

I was developing another short to direct, a haunting medieval horror, but pitched this to my producer and exec. producer instead – we then spent a year developing the script and working out the best way to present a narrative that goes far beyond what shorts usually handle, as there’s an entire history and world-building element to NEON that is intrinsic to it working. Narratively, we knew we were taking a monumental risk in how we were presenting our story but we figured go big or go home. We went big.

We really enjoyed that NEON was able to present such a vibrant world on what I can only assume was a bit of a budget. In your experience as a creator, what are some of the challenges and rewards in making a short film like this?

NEON is the first film for a while that I’ve directed in such a meticulous manner. I usually like to direct and shoot more organically – a bit more ‘guerilla’ – and feel things out as we go along following rehearsals and workshopping – but NEON was not that sort of film at all.

With so much backstory and world-building to accomplish, every second counted. The way in which the script was written was VERY prescriptive and we even made an animatic of the entire film to check our timings throughout. Every moment was accounted for – every angle, reason for a shot… the timing of an actor’s blocking was rehearsed in my head a million times before the camera ever rolled.

Was it rewarding? It was and it wasn’t. I like to be surprised on set, I like to encourage improvisation and to find new details or moments that are unexpected delights as they can often make a scene. However, the ambitious nature of NEON meant we had less time to allow for such moments and, as such, it was quite the military operation schedule-wise. Having said that, it was the very ambition of what we were trying to achieve with the story and emotion, the cinematography and saga-esque nature to the film that made the process rewarding. Up until NEON I’d been making films with what I could, budget-wise, resource wise – films I could make with what I had access to. NEON was a film for which my producer and I said to ourselves: “What’s the film we want to make?” And we put our money into that. Continue reading

In Defense of the Warrior-Princess

Last Wednesday, Kat gave us a post titled “Why I Decided to Stop Being a ‘Tough Girl’ and Just Be Me“, a thought-provoking piece on femininity.

I passionately disagree with it.

Let me break it down here.

In her post, Kat referenced this quote by actress Zoey Deschanel:

This idea- that women were or are pressured to be “men”- isn’t a new one. Plenty of folks have made the same observation and there is absolutely truth to that. In fact, we’ve even managed to turn it into a trope at this point, the “warrior-princess”. Continue reading

CWR’s Halloween Movie Recommendations II

Well readers, it’s that time of the year again.

Decorations are going up, costumes are coming out, and here at your favorite blog in the whole wide world, we’ve got your latest batch of chilling and thrilling movie recommendations.

Let’s get to it.

Splice

You know all those classic monster movies with heavy-handed messages about scientists playing God?

This isn’t one of ’em.

Quite the opposite, in fact: Splice is arguably a movie showing just the reverse, the danger of not providing scientists with the necessary resources and trust. And while that’s a long overdue message, beyond that, Splice is a simply fantastic horror flick. Well-acted, well-funded, well-shot, and even if you manage to see certain plot points coming, they’re only made all the more disturbing for it. Continue reading

The Strain: It’s Nosferatu on Steroids

My last quasi-review on this blog was of Helix, a sci-fi horror show about a strange and deadly contagion which had overpowered a research lab in the arctic circle. My issue wasn’t with the set or the story, but rather that Helix wasn’t really about anything. Science fiction is a medium for us to explore big ideas, like the line between humanity and technology, free will, and responsibility. The horror genre functions the same way, with its stories serving as ways for us to examine the duality of our nature…

…our place in the cosmos…

…and questions of faith.

Going into The Strain, my biggest question was “what’s this all about?”, and readers, I’m not entirely sure. What I do know is that it’s a blast.

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Helix and the Trouble with Tropes

Good science fiction is tough to come by. There’re plenty of factors we could point the finger at for that, but more often than not, it seems the people who produce sci-fi just don’t quite understand how it works.

Science fiction is, at its core, a means of exploring some sort of political or philosophical or ethical question. The spaceships, the time travel, brave new worlds- they’re all framing devices for questions about what makes us human…

…how we treat others…

…or our place in the universe.

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Fixing Doctor Who

As with many elements of modern culture, I walk the blurry line between fandom and general enjoyment. I like plenty of stuff, but I wouldn’t say I love anything. I enjoy comics- more than the average man on the street- but I’m definitely not on a level where I could seriously discuss comics with someone who’s actually into them (as Evan can attest). I enjoy heavy metal, but I couldn’t name the leading band of the past couple years or tell you the difference between Finnish black metal and Swedish death metal.

This is neither, just for the record…

Even though this gets me simultaneously branded as a nerd  by people who aren’t fans of _______ and a poser by people who are, I nevertheless get a pretty unique perspective on things. I can see how they work- what their appeal is- without getting objectivity compromised by being too emotionally invested.

Now I think I’d be hard pressed to think of a better example of this than Doctor Who.

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