Sunday, March 9, 2014

QWFF Day 5: Intergalactic planetary

Saturday was the last day of the Queens World Film Festival and the Nesva Hotel was buzzing with activity. The block of films I watched were genre movies of various stripes, including Recursion and My Art is Not Dead, which I saw opening night. The new stuff included:

- King Theodore Live, about an alien intelligence who inhabits the body of an Earth woman just to meet a member of his favorite rock band. Fun premise, and the original music wasn't bad, but I didn't feel any sense of urgency to the story. I didn't feel like anything was at stake on the part of the alien, or the musician, for that matter. It was simply a means to act out the wacky premise and nothing more.

- Talk to Strangers, in which an allegedly emotionless woman comes between a young couple. The woman is no Mr. Spock; she seems human but the movie never makes it clear whether she is or not, and anyway, the real conflict is what she does to the couple who are forced to temporarily take her in. As a short, it feels like the sketch of an idea; I'm just barely interested enough in it to wonder how this would work as a feature, especially given the Jarmusch-like approach to the characters.

LIC restaurant Dutch Kills Centraal
hosted the QWFF Awards
- The program guide describes the wordless French short Overnight thusly: "In a city under construction, between dreams and hidden desires, a trader falls down during a financial turmoil." Well-filmed, particularly with the cinematography and music, but I did not get this one at all.

- Day 6011. Imagine WALL-E as a Terminator-like sentry and you'll get the idea behind this computer animated short from Belgium. Loved the sudden twist the story takes near the end.

 'Strangers' director Brett Boshco (far left),
along with Nash, Buntrock & McClure (l-r)
The Recursion creators were in attendance at the Nesva: director Sam Buntrock, writer Stanton Nash, and star Rob McClure. I'll say a little more about the plot: as I mentioned before, it's a time-travel story in which the protagonist goes through loop after loop in time in order to meet his goal. He constantly course-corrects along the way, but that just leads to newer problems. Eventually he realizes the only way out is to do the one thing he must not do. The short would go on to win three QWFF awards at the afterparty in Long Island City, including the Founders Choice Award for Best in Show.

Buntrock said that it took five months in the editing room to put the 22-minute Recursion together, and indeed, editing is key here. Editing implies the idea of McClure in scenes with himself, occupying the same room or street or area, but there are only a few brief, fleeting moments where we actually see two McClures on the screen simultaneously. The rest of the time it's stunt doubles, but the footage is cut so sharply and clearly enough, that the illusion is convincing. And as a viewer, the fun of a movie like this is trying to figure out where and how the loops overlap, which is why I wanted to see this again.

Here's the trailer. This is a highly entertaining, fast-paced and cleverly put-together film that would play quite well at genre film marathons, like the ones in Columbus, Ohio and Boston, to name two off the top of my head. Look for it.

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