FARFARS FABRIK – Eric Väpnargård

Original Review by Alan RogersFarfars Fabrik

Farfars Fabrik (Grandfather’s Factory) is a recent Swedish short film produced by Anders Fällman and Eric Väpnargård. Set in the 1980s, the film centres on a child – Ester – and her grandmother (Marian). Ester’s grandfather, an inventor, dies suddenly and it is discovered by Marian that he has been involved in some secret research project she knew nothing about. Ester, it turns out, knew about her grandfather’s his secret work. The top secret project was trying to build a machine that could make everyone live forever. But, in being so heavily involved in this project, he was more-or-less absent from those around him who loved him. As the film unfolds, we learn of a mysterious book, titled “Grandfather’s Factory”, and in this book the events and illustrations appear to be mirroring the plot of the film. Questions are raised on what is fiction and what is reality. [Read more…]

QUE D’AMOUR! – Philippe Jakko

Original Review by Alan RogersQue d'amour

French director Valérie Donzelli’s 2013 film Que d’Amour! is part of a series of films that take dramas staged at the Théâtre-Français, Paris and transfers them to the screen. Using actors from the Théâtre-Français, and with a limited budget and time to film, Donzelli’s film is an adaptation of the French playwright Marivaux’s romantic comedy, Le Jeu de L’Amour et du Hazard. The story centres on a couple who are to married but who have never met. To get to know what type of person each will be marrying, they each decide – independently – to play the part of their respective servants for when they first meet. Confusion ensues before, inevitably, they fall in love with one another. Donzelli’s film has an original score written by London-based French composer Philippe Jakko, whose strong score for the 2014 World War Two drama, Allies, has recently been released by MovieScore Media.

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SPACE 2048 – Arthur Roolfs

Original Review by Alan RogersSpace 2048

Since its creation in the first quarter of 2014, the original version of the video game 2048 has spawned numerous variations. The objective of the game is to create a tile with the number 2048. The gameplay takes place on a grid (usually a 4×4 grid) and the player has to slide numbered tiles to combine them. This number values from each tile are summed and the game is won when the tile-total is 2048. Space 2048, released in September 2014 by RoGame for iOS/Mac OS/Android, has been marketed as “taking the old game into outer space”, where the tiles have become planets and the backdrop to the game features a series of beautiful images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST).

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Original Review by Alan RogersUnder The Skin

Jonathan Glaser’s science-fiction drama, Under The Skin, stars Scarlett Johansson as a mysterious woman, a extra-terrestrial who prowls the streets of Glasgow in a white van, picking up men (once she’s made sure that they are alone) and taking them back to her derelict lair where they then meet their strange fate. However, as the film progresses, we watch as her constant immersion in and observation of the everyday life of humanity, weakens her singular focus on her predatory purpose. A chance encounter with a disfigured man awakens an embryonic compassion, putting her own existence at risk. Under The Skin has divided both critics and audiences alike, with many of the negative comments being that the film is minimally explained, is “tedious”, “slow” and that nothing much happens. [Read more…]

SAMURAI – Ezequiel Menalled

Original Review by Alan RogersSamurai

Directed and co-writed by Gaspar Scheuer, Samurai (2013) is an Argentinian drama set in the final years of the nineteenth century. The samurai have been abolished in Japan and an exiled Japanese family has settled in a remote region of Argentina. Although his father expects him to work in the fields, his son’s head has been filled with stories of samurai warriors, told to him by his grandfather (who was himself a samurai). After his grandfather’s death, the son sets off in search for one of the last remaining warriors. During his journey he meets gaucho, Poncho Negro, a disabled veteran of the recent War of Paraguay. Poncho Negro accompanies the young man on his journey, guiding and helping him on his quest. A slow-paced, almost solemn film with dream-like qualities, what follows is a character-driven study of the tensions between traditional practices and progress and friendship and solidarity amid adversity.

Samurai is scored by Argentinian composer and musician Ezequiel Menalled who, in addition to composing for film, is keen on promoting as well as composing various types of “new music”. In this score, Menalled uses a relatively small ensemble of instruments to create a soundtrack that is both complimentary to the dream-like qualities of the film, but at the same time, highlights the Japanese origins of the exiled family and the pressures of their new home. Overall, the score feels quite sedate in tempo with each of the various themes, motifs and instrumentations appearing and disappearing at a leisurely pace in the music. There’s a serenity to the score that’s heard right from the off in the first few tracks, “Sombras” and “Cuencos”. Beautiful singing bowls resonate with one another, establishing a dream-like quality in the music. This is further enhanced with the inclusion of some ethereal vocals in “Sombras”. The use of these metallic bowls also adds a Far Eastern feel to the music and is heard at various points throughout the score, particularly in cues associated with what appears to be dream sequences: e.g., in “Sueño: Saigō”, “Sueño: Árbol” and “Sueño: Casa”, singing bowls mix with vocals and eerie tones created by techniques such as performing an electric guitar using an E-bow (an electric device that moves the strings of the guitar using an electromagnetic field rather than fingers), to play out a series of ambient cues. The subtle emphasis of the East can also be heard in tracks such as “Oriental” and “Oriental (Regreso)”. In these short tracks, a three-note motif – heard on woodwinds and electric guitar (again, at a restrained tempo) – has a hint of the Japan to it. Together, these various suggestions of the family’s origins – and the samurai storyline. [Read more…]

COLLAPSE – Vincent Gillioz

Original Review by Alan RogersCollapse

The thought of another zombie movie to add to the bulging numbers of movies and TV shows already around chronicling the zombie apocalypse may not raise much enthusiasm but Jason Bolinger and Mike Sauders’ movie, Collapse, promises a “fresh take” on a well-trodden path. More an examination of one man’s decline in the face of apparently insurmountable outside pressures than “just” a zombie movie, Collapse follows Robert Morgan (Chris Mulkey) who is struggling to cope with family tragedy and being able to support his dependant family. The appearance of a mass of zombies changes his perspective from trying to save the family farm to how to keep his family alive and we follow Morgan’s struggle to retain his sanity as well as save his family from the onslaught. [Read more…]

TENTACLE 8 – Max Blomgren

Original Review by Alan RogersTentacle 8

An independent, low-budget spy thriller written and directed by John Chi, Tentacle 8 (2014) features a plot involving various branches of the U.S. intelligence community (including the very secretive group, Tentacle 8) become worried about what each other are up to after a computer virus wipes out a bunch of important records. A National Security Agency code analyst (played by Brett Rickaby) becomes involved – as the prime suspect responsible for the data loss – and he has to stay one step ahead of various pursuers. The movie has been criticised for its slow pace, convoluted storyline and incomprehensible plot; one critic likened Tentacle 8 to the BBC’s 1970s TV mini-series adaptation of John Le Carré’s Cold War spy story, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, starring Alec Guinness (a programme that, at the time, I found completely unfathomable but also completely mesmerising). But the movie’s labyrinthine and baffling plot has been cited as both positive and negative aspects for audiences.

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