Dante 01 (2008) – [rate 4.0]
Think French mashup of Cube and the Fountain with an odd Christ-theme and you’re probably pretty close to Dante 01. In a remote space station, prisoners of the worst kind volunteer to be guinea pigs for experimental drugs, to escape a death sentence. An original premise for sure, but it works ok and the actors perform well enough to prevent you from being distracted by such incongruity with reality.
The story may come across as somewhat unsatisfactory, especially once you see the ending, but it actually makes sense in a metaphorical sense if you give it some time to simmer and stew in your mind. Clever and novel, I liked it a lot, but I’m certain it’s not for everyone. Don’t go and see this if you expect to see some Event Horizon action and fx. Do see it if you’re into stuff like Solyaris or Pi. (though truth be told, Marc Caro isn’t a Tarkovsky or Aronofsky just yet)
Stingray Sam (2009) – [rate 3.5]
Most of what’s really great about Stingray Sam was already featured in American Astronaut, which was one of my favourites in a previous edition of the AFFF. Still, the movie takes this zany universe of cowboy astronauts a step further and blends in Terry Gilliam-like animations to help the story along.
The movie was shot as a six-part series, intended for broadcasting on mobile phones. The quality of the images does nothing to betray this fact, everything looks crisp and ready for the theatre, but the pacing of each episode is clearly geared to keep the attention of the instant message-generation.
As black-and-white space opera western musicals come, this one has to be one of the best. It’s genuinely funny and though the style may seem a bit childish in some scenes, the humour certainly isn’t and its fake innocence only serves to increase the estranging effect of the setting and the utterly unlikely story.
The plot really doesn’t even matter all that much, it’s not what keeps your attention on the screen. This movie/series is about being transported to another universe, in every possible way, even though there’s a lot to recognize. Recommended for anyone with a sense of humour.
11 Minutes Ago (2008) – [rate 3.5]
In the past few years, there have been a number of highly original and ‘realistic’ movies about time travel. Unlike the silly Timecop (1994) and slapstick Back to the Future (1985) series, these movies have been about relatively ordinary people; usually scientists or people that wander into the situation unaware, without special powers or attributes, dealing with a situation in a way that you and I would. Time travel is strange but mundane in movies like Primer (2004) and Timecrimes (2007).
11 minutes is like that and as a movie it is interesting in that it shows the story from the perspective of the time traveler. It has a number of clever restrictions: the time traveler is only shown at his destination, never in his own time. The chronological order is his timeline and unlike many (worse) movies about time travel, he makes mistakes in interpreting the effects, it’s as confusing to him as to you, the viewer.
For unknown (or rather untold) reasons, the stints of time travel have to be restricted to 11 minutes, but why does this man keep coming back to the same party? And the presence of a film crew at this meticulously organized wedding make it entirely believable that everything has been caught on film and allows the main character to interact with the film crew, lending the whole thing credibility.
Many original ideas mesh into a coherent whole, of good length, telling an entertaining – if somewhat soppy – story. The only negative points I would point out are his initial reasons to visit our time and the slightly corny overall motivations of the main character. But none of this should prevent you from watching this excellent time travel story.
Sleep Dealer (2008) – [rate 4.0]
In Sleep Dealer we are given a sneak peek at a not so distant future. New technology is changing the way people connect to the net, and high-tec unmanned planes are patrolling the air. But unlike many Hollywood scifi flics, this doesn’t result in our entire world being miraculously replaced by a shining, new plastic and aluminium reality. Instead, the new technology meshes with current day architecture, society and culture.
And with that also come current day problems. Migration, access to drinking water, labour outsourcing, privacy in the light of security, Sleep Dealer deals with all of it. It tells the tale of a Mexican man who dreams of the city and, as a result of various events, ends up working in a factory that allows workers to remotely control equipment for heavy labour, a so-called Sleep Dealer.
The atmosphere in Sleep Dealer reminded me somewhat of Code 46, but even more than in that story, I felt the presented reality was entirely believable. Not so much because the technological advances seem more likely, but because it is completely believable that the world of Sleep Dealer would grow out of our own and could do so in only a decade.
The plot has some flaws and the effects sometimes made me too aware that I was looking at something created in computer memory, but all of it was effective in telling a story and as a whole, Sleep Dealer deserves to be recommended to anyone with an interest in the effect technology may have on current day issues.
The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) – [rate 2]
B-movies, impossible to rate. If you look at this movie with modern eyes, it hard to see any quality at all. The plot is shaky and incredibly stereotypical. The special effects are limited to a sliding door in a big metal box and a big ray of light emanating from the eyes of a robot that makes weapons disappear. Stuff you can reproduce with garden-variety toys available to everyone today, even without the use of a PC. And there’s not a lot of acting going on either, though that’s not the worst part of the movie, considering other contemporary pieces. Continue reading The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)