Tag Archives: Jamin Winans

JAMIN WINANS’ TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

 is an independent filmmaker working out of Denver, Colorado. His second feature film, the allegorical dream fable Ink, is certified by this site as one of the 366 Best Weird Movies of all time. Ink currently holds a 100% positive rating at Rotten Tomatoes, and critics compared the style to works of and . His latest feature is the mind-bender The Frame. Together with his wife and collaborator Kiowa, Winans founded Double Edge Films to release his movies on his own terms without studio interference. DVD or digital versions of Ink and The Frame, and related merchandise, can be purchased directly from Double Edge films.

As it turns out, most of my favorite movies would be classified as “weird movies” so really I just need to list some of those.  These films aren’t wildly obscure or crude films, but they’re films that weren’t easy to get made just because they were doing something different.  A majority of them are from the 90’s, which was an amazing period for unique voices.

12 Monkeys (1995 – Terry Gilliam)

What I love about this movie is that Gilliam somehow sneaked a very weird film past Hollywood and into a wide release by disguising it as a and  blockbuster.  I had never been so confused and simultaneously so moved by a movie as 12 Monkeys.  I turned right around and immediately went to see it again.  It was even better and weirder the more I saw it.

The Blues Brothers (1980 – John Landis)

Still from Blues Brothers (1980)This was one of the very first movies I saw as a kid and I just loved it.  I wanted to be Elwood.  It’s not commonly seen as a “weird movie”, but when you look at it, it’s insane!  A couple of ex-con blues musicians go on a mission from God across the country to save an orphanage where they’re chased by Nazis, hicks, and the entire city of Chicago.  Oh, and it’s a musical.  Only John Landis…

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004 – )

 is one of the greatest writers of our time.  Michel Gondry is one of the most creative filmmakers of our time.  The two working together on a very sweet, yet profoundly deep film about love and pain turned out to be something magical.  An incredible cast (my favorite  performance) and a beautiful style.

The Double Life Of Veronique (1991 – Kryzystof Kieslowski)

I admire Kieslowski more than almost any other filmmaker because he was able to reach such depth in his work while having such a gentle touch in style.  Nothing was forced or too broad, yet everything he did had such spiritual depth and tension.  Veronique is my favorite Continue reading JAMIN WINANS’ TOP 10 WEIRD MOVIES

CAPSULE: THE FRAME (2014)

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: David Carranza, Tiffany Mualem

PLOT: The (literally) separate realities of a thief and a paramedic intersect.

Still from The Frame (2014)
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Try though it might, The Frame can’t entirely escape the sophomore slump. Jamin Winans’ first film, Ink, was a budget original and a Certified Weird success. This followup has interesting ideas that prove Winans’ talent is not a fluke, but it doesn’t capture the imagination the way the debut film did.

COMMENTS: The production team behind The Frame has been stingy in revealing details of the film’s plot, and after watching it I can see why. The movie does benefit from surprising twists (the first of which is revealed fairly early), and although I don’t think the intriguing concept completely pays off at the film’s end, it’s still a good idea not to spoil it. So, this is as much as I’m willing to say about the plot: it involves Alex, an illegal immigrant and reluctant thief working with a crew who boosts cargo from sixteen-wheelers, who’s looking for a way out of his criminal lifestyle. It also involves Sam, a dedicated paramedic with a troubled personal life and a weekly date with a blurry therapist. The two characters live separate lives in realities that exist at right angles to each other—not parallel, since parallel storylines never intersect, and these two lives do connect, in a very strange way.

I can’t say that the two stories resolve themselves in an emotionally satisfying way, but things do get weird by the end, especially when Sam crashes a film production studio and finds herself stuck in a loop with a self-typing typewriter. There’s also a low-tech, but bold, special effect with Alex that looks simultaneously silly and cool; it’s the kind of thing a Hollywood film would never dare try for fear of looking foolish.

The rigorous father-daughter allegory of Ink is here replaced by a free-form rumination about free will, about the (im?)possibility of escaping from your “frame” (whether that’s a self-limiting frame of reference, or a literal frame of celluloid). Whereas Winans’ debut was a dream/puzzle film, here he opts for a Twilight Zone-y scenario set mostly in the “real” world that feels, at times, unfinished. Each story contains a mysterious pseudo-omniscient figure lurking around the film’s edges whose significance is never fully explained; in Sam’s case, it’s her therapist, while Alex sees visions of a steampunk tinker in a raggedy tophat out of the corner of his eye. The latter character was memorable enough to make the DVD jacket, and to make the viewer wish he’d appeared in more scenes. The ultimate resolution, unfortunately, is arbitrary; the script too cleverly writes itself into a corner, and has no way out except deus ex machina.

All in all The Frame is a mixed bag, a film with pretty big ideas, some of which work and some that fall flat. One thing that can definitely be said in its favor is that it’s a professional looking film that belies its budget. Denver, Colorado is not known as a hotbed of movie talent, but the technical aspects of this film—editing, camerawork, lighting, acting—equal indies made in New York or Hollywood. The Frame makes an excellent calling-card for young leads David Carranza and Tiffany Mualem; both prove capable of carrying an indie drama. They’re flatteringly photographed and show emotional intensity (if not a lot of range, given the quiet and downbeat mood of the story).

The career arc of Jamin Winans reminds me of ;[1]. both are obsessive fantasists who work slowly, meticulously control their films (including writing their own scores), and eschew commercial compromise. The upside to that methodology is independence; the downside is they refuse studio resources that could help them to realize more elaborate visions. As long as these guys keep coming up with creative ways to reveal the fantastic in the everyday, though, no one here will complain.

You can download The Frame directly from the filmmakers.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…a metaphysical urban fantasy that fills the heart and mind equally…”–Rob Hunter, Film School Rejects (contemporaneous)

A digital copy of this movie was provided by the distributor for review.

  1. One difference between the two is that Jamin has a collaborator, producer, publicist and wife Kiowa Winans, who probably deserves more credit for the finished products than she gets []

SATURDAY SHORT: UNCLE JACK (2010)

Jamin Winans, director of the Certified Weird film Ink, was commissioned by Pentax to shoot a short film using only the K-7 HD DSLR camera.  They couldn’t have picked a better person for the job.  Winans thrives on making quality cinema with a minuscule budget. Most everyone agrees, though, that Winans and his team would benefit from better funding for their future projects; they definitely deserve it.

43. INK (2009)

“It was just an extra splash of weird.  We decided it wasn’t weird enough to begin with, so what can we really do to make this weird?”–Kiowa Winans on Ink‘s DVD commentary [explaining why the Incubi staves end in human hands]

Recommended

DIRECTED BY:

FEATURING: (as Chris Kelly), Quinn Hunchar, Jessica Duffy, Jeremy Make, Jennifer Batter

PLOTInk introduces us to a world where a race of guardian angels called “Storytellers” guard over humanity and bring pleasant dreams while we sleep, while the evil “Incubi” sneak by our bedsides and send nightmares. One night, a mysterious cowled and chained figure comes into the room of a sleeping girl, defeats the assembled Storytellers, and snatches the child away to a limbo halfway between the waking and dreaming worlds. Meanwhile, in the earthly realm, the girl’s body lapses into a coma, while her estranged, workaholic father refuses to leave a billion dollar contract he’s working on to visit his daughter in the hospital.

ink

BACKGROUND:

  • Jamin Winans not only wrote, edited and directed the film, but also composed the soundtrack. Jamin’s wife Kiowa handled both sound design and art direction as well as serving as producer.
  • The movie was made for only $250,000.
  • Ink won the Best International Feature award at the Cancun Film Festival.
  • Despite faring well on the festival circuit, Ink was not picked up by a distributor; the producers self-distributed the movie to a few cinemas and oversaw the DVD and Blu-ray releases themselves.
  • After its DVD release, Ink was downloaded 400,000 times, becoming one of the ten most pirated features of the week of its release alongside major Hollywood films like Zombieland. On the official website, the filmmakers request voluntary donations from those who watched the movie for free.

INDELIBLE IMAGE: The Incubi, demons for the digital age. Unmasked, these shadowy figures with glowing spectacles have become the film’s iconic poster image, but they are even more frightening when they hide their true visages behind happy-face projections flickering on perpetually on-the-fritz LCD monitors affixed to their heads.

WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: Ink taps into the beautifully frightening, often disquieting aesthetic of fairy tales, mixing high-tech nightmare visions with ancient storytelling traditions to create a new mythology that’s simultaneously progressive and connected to the past. It blunts its weirdness by resolving its symbolism completely by the end, although the literal plot resolution remains a paradox. Even though all becomes clear by the end, the early reels can be a wild ride.

Original trailer for Ink

COMMENTS:  “Ink has been compared to cult classics Brazil, Donnie Darko, The Matrix, Continue reading 43. INK (2009)