All posts by Giles Edwards

Film major & would-be writer. 6'3".

KAPSULO: INCUBUS (1966)

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REĝISORIS: Leslie Stevens

RAKONTO: William Shatner, Allyson Ames

INTRIGO: Marc resaniĝas post militvundo kiam li estas tentita fare de Kia la succubus, kiu venkiĝas al siaj sanaj ĉarmoj post alvokado de la Incubus por korupti sian spiriton.

KOMENTOJ: Tri elementoj konspiras por ke Incubus ne finiĝu sur la peceto de B-filmo-arta teruro. La unua estas la strangaj evoluoj, kiuj afliktis membrojn de la produktado post ĝia eldono. La mortoj de aktoroj, eksgeedziĝoj, kaj la malapero de ĉiuj konataj presaĵoj kaŭzis certan mistikon ĉirkaŭ la filmo. La dua estas la ĉeesto de ankoraŭ ne tre granda William Shatner, kiu donas al la mondo unu el siaj malmultaj malmodestaj agadoj kiel Marc, soldato (?) Resaniĝanta de siaj vundoj en katedralo situanta ĉe mita puto. La tria estas la lingvo, en kiu ĝi estis prezentita. Esperanto? Pli kiel Yesperanto!

Mokante flanken, estas malfacile veki ian entuziasmon por ĉi tiu eta projekto. La rakonto havas neniun emocian (aŭ spiritan aŭ filozofian) efikon, cirkonstancon tute ne helpatan de la fakto, ke la ago, tia, kia estas, estas reduktita al iutaga valoro de iom kripta ago. Marc (William Shatner), sana viro, laŭ ni, vivas sur insulo kun sia fratino en dometo proksime al kaj kapelo kaj puto, kiu enhavas junajn akvojn. Li resaniĝas post iu vundo, kiel ilustris lia frua uzo de promenbastono. Ĉi tiu insulo enhavas gaglon da sukuboj, kiuj pasigas multan tempon kolektante la koruptitajn animojn de la vantaj kaj malbonaj specoj, kiuj estas allogataj de la legendaj akvoj de la puto. Unu sukubo, senmarka-1960a-blonda Kia (Allyson Ames) avidas la defion kapti puran animon por Satano, por pli bone pliigi siajn ŝancojn esti promociita al demono. Kio rezultas estas ventego delogo kaj iuj sakrosanktaj, paranormalaj nuduloj.

Manpleno da strangaj tuŝoj elstaras – la elemento “Esperanto” facile nesciebla kiel nur eŭrop-sonanta lambastono. Marc pasigas iom de la filmo portante iom ŝikan jakon, sed neniam vidiĝas meti siajn brakojn tra ĝiajn manikojn. Estas hazarda suneklipso, kiu konfuzas iujn brutojn kaj blindigas la fratinon de Marc. Kaj la mistera titulara ento ŝajnas esti kaj la mastro kaj servisto de la trupo de demonetoj, aperante kiel iu ulo kun nigraj pantalonoj kaj nigra butonumita ĉemizo. (Tio estas, ĝis kiam Kia faras malklare krucforman geston, kiu malkaŝas lian veran formon de amasa kapra aĵo.)

Incubus mallongas por plenlonga filmo, sed tio, kio mankas al ĝi dum reala tempo, kompensas ĝin en teda. Pafoj de marbordaj vagadoj, ridinde nesafektaj kampaj serĉadoj, kaj … pli da promenado ĉiuj remburas la filmon kun preskaŭ nenio interesa eltondado, kaj kia ajn tono aŭ etoso, kiuj povus esti establitaj alie kompromititaj per la stiltita liverado de stiltlingvo. Verŝajne estas impresa (kaj eble Continue reading KAPSULO: INCUBUS (1966)

APOCRYPHA CANDIDATE: ANNETTE (2021)

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Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Leos Carax

FEATURING: Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, Simon Helberg

PLOT: After the birth of his daughter, Henry McHenry’s life slides irreversibly into the abyss.

WHY IT MIGHT JOIN THE APOCRYPHA: No, not because the daughter is a puppet. That’s just a convenient, albeit perfect, metaphor for Annette, the character.  Annette the film is an example of distillation in the extreme. It condenses opera’s operaticness to its essence, stand-up comedy to its essence, and so on. Musicals, as a genre, have a lot of leeway that often keep us from considering them as “weird.” However, here the director and screenwriters kick the substance of style as substance into overdrive, making something that is as emotionally affecting as its trappings are meaningfully superfluous.

COMMENTS: “So, may we start?” asks the director in front of a studio mixing board. Cue the screen-/score-writers, Ron and Russ Mael. As the proem is sung, the leads enter the scene. The cast and crew proceed into the streets singing, continuing the opening number before kneeling in front of the camera and then dispersing into the actual action of the story. It’s a spectacle of choreographed artifice, laying bare the central conceit of Annette: this is a performance. There are plenty of musicals about musicals. There are meta-movies. Leos Carax is capturing both in this glorious two-for-one deal, which first shows you all its components before proceeding to confound you anyway. And while this is certainly a Carax picture, he is like the celebrity chef working from the ingredients gathered by the Maels (who record as “Sparks”) over their decades-long career.

The story is so Hollywood that it almost hurts. Stand-up comic and big-time celebrity Henry McHenry falls in love with Ann Defrasnoux, a beloved opera singer; they marry, have a child (more on that later), and tragedy ensues. Why? Because this is opera; this is opera so deep down to its pathos-impacted core that its plot arc is as predictable as it is fundamental. The tragedy of Annette is deeper than it is “large”; no gods, no epic events, just emotional deterioration speeding into spiritual collapse. So it’s Hollywood, and it’s opera. And it’s always playing footsie with the absurd. Annette‘s hook, at least its main one, is that the titular character is a wooden puppet who sings by the light of the moon.

Under normal circumstances, this is where the “uncanny valley” remarks would go. But seeing as this story is neck-deep in the very essence (bordering on apotheosis) of every other element—songs, performance, melodrama, lighting—Annette being a marionette makes perfect sense. As a character, she is controlled not by herself, but by her parents. This ding an sich-ing (she is literally a puppet) is in keeping with what Carax and the Maels are up to. Is there a “true love” duet-montage? You bet there is. And virtually all the lyrics are the words, “We’re so in love”. When Annette becomes a star, there’s a requisite travel montage which echoes the lyrically scant duet from before, with the lines “We’re traveling ’round the world” sung while they… travel around the world. At times the filmmakers beg forgiveness for having to interrupt their emotional archetypes with plot—an important character apologizes a number of times during his expositionary monologue for breaking his speech to perform his job of conducting an orchestra.

This makes him a perfect stand-in for the creators. And his ultimate fate also suggests the perils of the creative process, as characters take on a life of their own and throw a spanner in the works. There have been, and will be, superior movie musicals, but few others revel so fundamentally in the core of performance as a genre. This is a story that hides neither its nature nor its ambitions. And the skill level of its authors—writers, directors, and players—leaves the audience completely in their control.

An Amazon Studios production, Annette debuted for free on Amazon Prime after its 2021 Cannes premiere and brief theatrical run.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“…a thoroughly banana cakes musical romance… If you sometimes go to the movies to feel unsettled, perplexed, and amused—not to mention get a peek at an often-shirtless and always-brooding Adam Driver—Annette might be the weird one you’ve been waiting for.”–Dana Stevens, Slate (contemporaneous)

FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL 2021: THE OTHER FEATURES

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Here’s a roundup of four notable genre films screening at this year’s Fantasia Film Festival that, for one reason or another, did not receive full-length reviews. If the descriptions intrigue you, look out for these in the coming months.

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair: As an indie melodrama wrapped in the guise of a horror story, World’s Fair maintains an uneasy ambiguity up through its melancholy epilogue. Casey (portrayed by the age-ambiguous Anna Cobb) is a young high schooler who joins the “World’s Fair” horror cult during a ritual that begins the movie. The eight-minute opening shot cements Casey’s mien and milieu: shy awkwardness housed in an attic bedroom with a glow-in-the-dark-star-covered ceiling. She seeks the unsettling changes promised by a community of horror thrill-seekers, whom we meet through posted videos of “the change.”

On the cusp of adulthood, Casey has yet found no place for herself. Dysphoric, she flirts with suicide. World’s Fair manages to be neither heavy-handed with moralizing, nor tedious with its insistent lack of clarity. That is a narrow path to walk, and transgender “writer, editor, and director” Jane Schoenbrun guides us through this journey with a sure hand. I bring up Schoenbrun’s circumstances because even before reading the director’s statement, I could sense that she unpacks her past confusions and sufferings through storytelling in the intimate depths of this film. The film was a novel experience for me, being the only example of “ominously quirky” cinema I’ve ever seen.

Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It: I love coming across movies that make for deadly drinking games. Take a shot every time Ernar Nurgaliev’s Brother Kooka shares an old Kazakhstani saying; you’ll pass out in the first twenty minutes. But the story? Oh yeah, the story. Das and his two buddies go on a weekend fishing trip. Das is dying to escape harassing calls from his creditors, constant arguments with his pregnant wife about a baby name, and the general crush of day-to-day existence. When this happy-go-lucky crew accidentally toss a bottle of urine at the car windshield of a four criminal brothers (all perfectly understandable in the frantic context), things begin to go awry. The thugs hit a dog in the confusion, and so enters the Psycho Rural Archetype. This is all very silly, and thank goodness. It is also superbly shot, with balanced frames, clever angles, and also a stylistic touch that particularly tickled my love for tidiness: the opening credits were nicely aligned on various horizontal surfaces. All said and done, a highly recommended romp.

Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break: “This lunch break, I’m going to right all the wrongs that have happened to me and my mum,” threatens the titular reality-star-wannabe. And he does, in a way. This movie is an unabashedly droll mash-up of Falling Down and Airheads, hitting all the expected notes of vengeance and comedy, mightily holding its sequined head high. You’ve seen this story before: aging loser hits back against the system, this time in the form of a dictatorially officious train platform attendant, a racially ignorant tea-shop owner, corrupt church officials, and that scummiest of scumbags, the reality talent show host. I found it impossible not to enjoy, though, as Nick Gillespie is a master of comedy craft, cramming together chuckle-time vignettes and sprinkling lyric-references throughout. Like a classic tune you can’t help bopping your head to, Paul Dood’s Deadly Lunch Break is a breezy number that forces a smile to your face.

Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story: One cat, two dogs, an exotic city—Avid Liongoren’s animated send-up of telenovelas has it all. Nimfa is a perfume counter cat (of course) dating a burly janitor canine, but has a meet-cute with a very wealthy property mogul (also canine) and her life is up-ended. Liongoren delivers playful pokes to Filipino society, particularly the serialized soap operas so prevalent on television. Animation is the perfect medium for the surreal silly touches (cue rubber-ducky drop exposing the hunky male lead after he declares, “let us give in to our burning desires!”) as well as the video-game inspired battles that erupt whenever Nimfa is pushed too far. Clocking in at a swift seventy-four minutes, Hayop Ka! (translation: “You Animal!”) lands in that difficult sweet spot: nothing skated over, no loose ends, and you’re left with that pleasing sensation of wanting a little more.

FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL 2021: CREEPY SHORTS DOUBLE FEATURE

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This post covers two programs of nine shorts each, Things That Go Bump in the East  and Small Gauge Trauma, so technically it’s an octodecuple feature—a word so fine that our spell-checker does not even recognize it. Without further ado, here are nine pairs of shorts for you to try on.

“Things That Go Bump in the East” program

Chewing Gum (dir. by Mihir Fadnavis; 18 min.)—Getting in the spirit of this horror short, my cat Goose  appeared at the door to my left. After some minutes of creepy video, I looked left again, and Goose had materialized in the same position, six feet closer. That’s the kind of unsettling occurrence you’ll find here. Classic black and white visuals, killer foley, and minimal dialogue. Of the eighteen-minute run-time, seventeen are perfect. Dark subway, dark roads, and an eldritch entity in black demanding chewing gum from the adulterous protagonist had me riveted. But when the monster took her (?) dues, it was more “uhh…” than “AGGH!!!”

Carnivorous Bean Sprout (dir. by Seo Sae-rom; 5 min.)—An animated PSA-by-way-of-advertisement, Carnivous‘ greatest strength is the no-nonsense newsy narrator discussing the thrilling, new, titular phenomenon. Looking rather similar to sperm with chompy heads, these aquatic sprouts are a hit tourist attraction: people gather in boats, are rowed over to nest, and then handlers rustle the beans, which jump up and bite you. This craze extends to a new variety of monkeys (which rise from the water and scratch you) and elephants (which extend their noses to throttle the happy spectator). Strange things, people are.

Juan-Diablo-Pablo (dir. by Ralph Pineda, Dyan Sagenes; 15 min.)—I nearly dismissed this out of hand when I realized it wasn’t done with puppets. (How this notion got in my head, I am uncertain.) However, J-D-P does something very impressive by traveling seamlessly from confusing, to mundane, to humorous, to wrenching. All available clues suggest that “Juan Diablo” is Death, and he happens happens to be living in a ratty, newspaper strewn apartment, receiving corpses from a pair of disfigured opera archetypes. His young neighbor Pablo introduces himself with a note hucked through a hole in Juan’s wall, and their wordless encounters at Death’s door have an amusing and wholesome tonality, incongruously achieving Hallmark Card levels of “adorable.” The tone shift at the end is sudden, but not misplaced, poetically bringing attention to the tragedy befalling the Philippines from rampant crime and extra-judicial murders on the part of the police.

Huh (dir. by Kim Tae-woo; 12 min.)—Huh was a Korean mask-maker of legend, and this is a cartoon tribute to his art. Kim Tae-woo mixes curvy animation of chalk-looking drawings with the occasional hip-hop number to bring the ancient carver to life. A mountain spirit drops some beats as he instructs Huh on how to overcome the tide of spiritual possession plaguing the villagers. I expected this to be cute, and it was; but I was not expecting to heave a sigh of relief when the errant spirits barely made it back into the moon.

Koreatown Ghost Story (dir. by Minsun Park, Teddy Tenenbaum; 15 min.)—I wondered what Margaret Cho was up to. It was quite a pleasant surprise to see her show up in this little horror comedy. Hannah, a young painter who works by day at a hardware store, visits the venerable Mrs. Moon to inquire about the contents of a puzzle box and is quickly whisked to a massage table and poked with needles. After some remarks about Hannah marrying Moon’s dead son, the matriarch mystic disappears and a spirit corpse boy pursues the girl around the house. Another cute Korean story, also with a focus on masks and the Autumn festival (gotta do me some research now). I laughed, I jumped, and I reconsidered the possibilities of acupuncture.

Night Bus (dir. by Joe Hsieh; 20 min.)—Great art design, but unfortunately the amateur animation style does this little tale of wronged spouses, wronged passengers, and wrong monkeys no favors. The jarring sequences all unfolded with squicky violence undone by the “Happy Tree Friends” excess and awkwardly arranged narrative reveals.

Seen It (dir. by Adithi Krishnadas; 12 min.)—Gather ’round the fire and learn of the horrible eenampechi, the hovering and easily confused arukola, the mystical thendan, and others in this animated cryptocatalogue of wonders. This wry little black and white squiggle ‘toon is based on some of the innumerable supernatural anecdotes of P. N. K. Panicker, a tall-tale teller of some renown. Its easy-going style makes this the only “kid friendly” pick from Things That Go Bump. The raconteur’s advisements come to life before your eyes, Continue reading FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL 2021: CREEPY SHORTS DOUBLE FEATURE

FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL 2021: MAD GOD

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RecommendedWeirdest!

DIRECTED BY: Phil Tippett

FEATURING: Niketa Roman,

PLOT: An explorer descends into the depths with the mission to destroy God.

WHY IT MIGHT JOIN THE APOCRYPHA: Drawing inspiration from Ray Harryhausen and the Brothers Quay, as well as siphoning the theological-cinematic marrow of E. Elias Merhige, Phil Tippett has created a stop-motion nightmare of such scale and unrelenting viciousness that it turns the corner into the darkly poetic.

COMMENTS: Words nearly fail me. I could go on at length about Mad God‘s technical wizardry and the staggering horror of  its vision. The soundscape is calculated for maximum unpleasantness. The entities populating the Hellish layers are the nastiest collection of putrescent malevolence this side of the imagination. Whatever message there may be here is of the utmost nihilistic hideousness. Myriad paragraphs could be spun going over all the elements Phil Tippett has created for this trial of a film, but mere text cannot convey the goings-on in Mad God. I’ve seen torture porn; this movie is nothing short of torment porn.

Babel is destroyed, and what follows is a vision of mankind, had he defied the warnings of Leviticus 26: 27-33. Man survives, as he must and as he can. An explorer in a capsule descends past a skyscraper guarded by flak cannons. He is armored and equipped with a map and a briefcase. And he witnesses Hell on Earth as he travels, passing defecating guardian beasts. Wispy humanoids are stamped in a press and sent off to labor on a giant apparatus, burnt to crisps, crushed under steam-rollers, and splattered by the dark monoliths they have been tasked to create. Down and further down continues the explorer, map disintegrating, briefcase clutched in hand. Inside is a bomb, and with it the hope of destroying this God and what he has wrought. He reaches the bottom, on which rest innumerable heaps of other briefcases. And he sets the timer…

It may be best for me to describe the few moments of comparative ease on display. A doll-like human woman passes her time masturbating; a nurse has the luxury of a pillow to lay upon; and somewhere in God’s alchemical laboratory there exists a carefree group of DayGlo beings who sup daintily on maggots. And that is all I can think of. Of course, each instance has caveats: the doll-like woman is imprisoned; the nurse must facilitate a ghastly human-emptying surgery for each delivery of an ungainly foetus to be handed unto God; and the DayGlo cavorters are intermittently snatched up and eaten by beasts for the alchemist’s amusement.

There is a timelessness to Mad God, explained not just by its lack of dialogue and grandness of the vision. This project took Tippett thirty-three years to complete. Every crushed human, every organ tossed idly aside, and every burst of goo and shit—it all leads to a dispiriting rejoinder to 2001: A Space Odyssey. When God is fed the dust of the infant, he spews forth black monoliths into the cosmos, infecting neighboring worlds. The abominations on display here are beyond most people’s utterance, and you may be tempted to flee, but Mad God ends on an odd note that ever-so-slightly tempers the despair: another explorer, with another briefcase, is sent down for another attempt.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Tippett’s odyssey, equally compelling and off-putting, enmeshes the viewer in a maximalist excess not too formally different from the likes of Flying Lotus’ trippily mutated Kuso, abetting its dream logic with lurid visions of the scatological and profane.”–Morris Yang, In Review Online (festival screening)

FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL 2021: STANLEYVILLE (2021)

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Recommended

DIRECTED BY: Maxwell McCabe-Lokos

FEATURING: Susanne Wuest, , Cara Ricketts, Christian Serritiello, George Tchortov, Adam Brown

PLOT: Maria is selected for a contest that promises to “probe the very essence of your mind-body articulation”—and to present the winner with a brand new SUV.

WHY IT MIGHT JOIN THE APOCRYPHAStanleyville‘s DIY-feel is paralleled within the narrative as candidates partake in a series of increasingly unhinged, but always ramshackle, challenges (two favorites: “Lobe of Ear” and “Diogenes Nose-Peg”). Trapping five bizarre specimens of humanity in a pavilion, McCabe-Lokos lets his unwieldy absurdist-reality-chamber-drama creak and crash as it lurches toward a gracefully symbolic climax.

COMMENTS: Until watching Stanleyville, I had never heard a ravenously pro-capitalistic screed in folk song form. This was among a number of “firsts” for me, as a pentad of archetypes squared off against one-another over the course of two days. This group is gathered together by an out-of-sync master of ceremonies named Homonculus, and “the heat heats up” as irregular time intervals count down, minds get stretched to snapping point, and bodies pile up in the food pantry.

Stanleyville‘s framework is not ground-breaking: apply pressure to some weirdos in a confined space and see what happens. Marat/Sade did it way back in the 1960s. (In fact, Stanleyville‘s setup makes me wonder if this was a stage play; and if not, when can I expect it to be?) The ingredients are fresh, however, particularly the mysteriously European (and Europeanly mysterious) Homonculus, who finds our heroine Maria sitting in a shopping mall massage chair and promises to change her life. She’s recently finished a shift at her dead-end job, left her dead-end home life, and discarded her purse, along with its contents, in a trash can. An earlier encounter at the office, witnessing a majestic, soaring bird unceremoniously thwack into her window, has left her aware that something is missing in life. She eagerly accepts Homonculus’ offer; not for the brand new habañero-orange compact SUV (a prize description mentioned often, with quiet enthusiasm), but because she feels that fate may have finally gotten up off its ass to give her some purpose.

Her contest competitors are a hyper-affable beefcake who’s neck-deep in a protein-powder Ponzi scheme; a jaded nihilist who incongruously lusts after the SUV; a hedge fund fellow sitting atop a mountain of privilege and self-loathing; and an actor/junkie/musician who never found a failure he didn’t have an excuse for. The four ancillary stereotypes lack depth (as is their wont), but they are merely background distraction (ironic, being the loudest characters in the piece), pushing Maria and her pensive wonderment to the fore.

The fourth stage of the contest (after the balloon-blowing, item sequencing, and the “write a national anthem for everybody everywhere through all time” trials) is when Stanleyville slips from ominously silly into philosophical. If I asked you, “Who is Xiphosura?”, you might not guess an entity who transmits crypticisms through a conch shell —but that’s as much as we learn about him. This is the kind of mystery found in Stanleyville; just enough is explained to keep you going, right up through the (off-screen) final event. Like Homonculus, Maxwell McCabe-Lokos may seem like he’s just making it up as he’s going along. He isn’t; he’s deliberately constructed the pathway toward new modes of mind-body articulation.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“The persistent failure, however, to conceive of connective tissue between the elements it engages with (either through some development of narrative or in formal playfulness) ensures that the thematically derivative interests and pedestrian existential angsts of Stanleyville on the whole amount to little more than nothing at all…”–Zachary Goldkind, In Review Online (festival screening)

 

FANTASIA FESTIVAL 2021: TIN CAN (2020)

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DIRECTED BY: Seth A. Smith

FEATURING: Anna Hopkins, Simon Mutabazi, Michael Ironside

PLOT: A parasitologist is abducted after discovering a treatment for a spore-fueled pandemic and awakens inside a life-support canister.

COMMENTS: It was disorienting for me to endure so many of my personal phobias on parade while still remaining committed to finding out how this shuddersome chain of events concluded. Tin Can has plenty of its titular containers: a third of the action takes place inside an icky-liquid-filled cylinder inhabited by Fret, the film’s slime-expert heroine. As she could barely move, practically fused with her surroundings, a sympathetic jab of claustrophobia struck me . And then there’s the disease-y plot device, which on more than one occasion had me glancing away.

There’s a lot of terrible going on in the world now, what with some fungus-based communicable horrificness passing from person to person with greater ease than I would have thought likely just a year ago. So Tin Can feels topical, while still maintaining a futuristic edge. A suffused lighting scheme heightens the clinical spaces, working equally well with the sinister basements of some unnamed facility. Smith opts for a narrow aspect ratio, heightening the sense of constriction, trapping the viewer in its column just as the visuals push you to the edges.

The sound design is also impressive, with plenty of muffled conversations between occupants of the “tin cans”, and all manner of sinister clanks and squoodges as unknown unpleasantness happens beyond the scope of their air vents. Only one character seems remotely pleased at every juncture, a wiry old man named Wayne (Michael Ironside) who seems to have embraced the prospect of being a harbinger some decades prior. The other characters, well, they love, they lie, they… They have a lot of flashback encounters beneath (what I swear) is the same underpass over and over. Come to think of it, Smith not only overcame my personal discomforts with the themes, he also overcame the fact that he only had one interesting character…

Marred though it is by disorienting plot jumps and flat performances (except, of course, Ironside’s giddy eccentric), Tin Can works when viewed as a philosophical essay. Its sounds and visuals—the gold-toned future drones, the dungeon cylinder repository, and the squiggling gyrations of a fungal chrysalis just before it’s crushed—are strong enough to carry us past the ho-hum human element. And Tin Can‘s themes of transformation, deception, and hope are tried and true. The Waynes of the world, with their manic optimism in the face of doom, are as necessary as the hard-nosed, hard-science heroine Fret. Without Fret, we cannot achieve, and without Wayne, we cannot believe.

WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:

“Smith goes big on the visuals, both inside and outside the can… there is work that evokes Andrey Tarkovsky and Marek Piestrak. It’s splendidly realised and atmospheric, which is important because in later, slower scenes, Smith relies on it to maintain a sense of awe when the actors are compromised in their ability to hold our attention.” -Jennie Kermode, Eye for Film (festival screening)