Jakob Bilinski‘s last film, Shade of Grey (2009) was a well-crafted feature, compellingly approached, yet flawed by inexperienced acting in key roles. Bilinski has returned to the short film format with Obsolescence (2011), having considerably improved his craftsmanship, first and foremost in the acting. That is beneficial, because Obsolescence turns out as Bilinski’s best effort to date.
The seed of the idea for this psychological science fiction was inspired by Bilinski’s wife, Mackenzie. It was shot in L.A. on a minuscule budget with a two day shooting schedule and a meager cast of four. Far more often than not, guerrilla film-making methods such as these only lead to an execrable experience, but Bilinski is a conceptual artist who molds his gem with intelligence and style.
“Better never to have met you in my dream than to wake and reach for hands that are not there.”–Otomo No Yakamochi. This introductory quote aptly dissipates shortly before the opening view of an empyrean horizon, its composition dismantled by Bilinski’s feverish, frenzied camera—a sign of things to come. Nick (Scott Ganyo) is bathed in a bucolic landscape, but the deceptive harmony fails to mask a twitch.
Tess (Rosalind Rubin) is strapped to a chair in a desolate location. She is being held hostage by Nick. In lesser hands this would have been the predictable setup for an adolescent excuse to show a torture fest, but Bilinski and the superb Rubin invest kinetic, tense excitement into the conflict. Nick has poisoned Tess. Her salvation lies in information that Nick requires regarding the death of his wife, Annie (Jen Lilley). Rubin hypnotically conveys fear, frustration, and futile effort as she witnesses humanity slipping away from her captor, who is engulfed in grief. Nick’s ability to empathize trickles away like water into sewage. He is more fascinated than compassionate when the poison begin to take hold of Tess. Wracked with pain, Tess’ Continue reading OBSOLESCENCE (2011) & LETHAL OBSESSION (2010): THE POTENTIAL AND FAILURE OF INDEPENDENT FILM→
If you were at Tromadance a couple weeks back, you probably heard about this little comedy pearl (and, while we’re on the subject, did you see me there? I was the guy in the yellow shirt with the melting, pulsating face). It was a modest success at the festival, and hopefully that appearance leads to a bright future for this film, because I stand before you today a man who, on his first assignment for the amazing 366 Weird Movies, has struck pay-dirt. Zorg and Andy is a low-budget feature with a lot of what makes independent movies so intriguing; the glorious smacking of ambition. I appreciate anything that tries harder than it needs to, and this little movie, made for less than $25,000, truly breaks from its ilk and strives for some really good stuff here. Is it weird? A little. But as long as it’s enjoyable and a tad bit more off-the-beaten-trail than, say, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, isn’t that what counts?
So the movie revolves around the wacky, ZANY antics of our soon-to-be best pal Andy. Andy is a loser who sucks at just about everything, and this is just the way things are for him, and probably will be for the rest of his life. Fortunately, before his loser status gets him kicked out of college, he lands a work-study job at the local museum cleaning artifacts. When he arrives, he meets his overworked handler Jen and she puts him to the task of cleaning a very important artifact rushed to them by the museum director herself. It’s a fertility statue of unknown origin with a strange, let’s call it “protrusion”, sticking out of its forehead. Andy does an almost perfect job of cleaning it and relaxes for a second to congratulate himself, when suddenly a strange and mysterious MILF appears and seduces poor Andy. She asks him for the statue, calling it “Zorg” and saying that she’s been waiting to pick it up. He buys this line, obviously in the throes of her charms, and, in a flash, she leaves with statue in hand. Afterward, he tells Jen all the good work he did with cleaning “Zorg” and giving it to the mysterious lady, and she naturally flips her lid. In a rage, she demands that Andy use what little intelligence he possesses to find the statue and bring it back before the museum director notices what has happened. So it becomes a scramble to find this “Zorg”, unearth why this woman wants it so badly, and do it under the nose of museum staff. Hopefully Andy can show the world that he’s not a total waste of space before it’s too late!
Director Guy Davis gets a thumbs-up from yours truly for making a film of surprising quality with so few resources. Everything about this film belies its cost. The music, mostly composed by a gent named Kevin MacLeod, is very good and exceptionally fitting. It’s flirty, fun, and peppy, marking the bubbly mood of this b-movie comedy. The special effects, almost entirely digital, are passable, using the ol’ standby, day-for-night, like it was about to be outlawed and making the use of some quirky CG for various menaces standing in Andy’s way. The shots are all textbook, and first-time director Davis must be commended for his utilitarian framing and shooting the first-time around, not botching a single scene.
At a light and breezy 62 minutes, Zorg and Andy is the comic equivalent of Binaca; the effects wear off pretty fast and the sensation isn’t as refreshing as you’d like it to be, but it packs a bit of a bite for what its worth. There are some pretty effective gags here for such a budgeted affair. I mean, the statue alone gets me a little bit; it’s so penis-y! Andy himself is played to quite a few laughs, his stupidity spreading thick over the movie like a peanut butter and idiot sandwich.
But one of my favorite gags is one of the things that makes this film on the verge of being weird, and that is the presence of Stuart and The Pig. They’re the two students featured in the picture above, and they’re the gurus of all the goings-on in University news. You might be wondering why The Pig has a papier-mâché pig’s head on. Well, it’s never explained, and he never takes it off; all we know is that he’s a benefactor of Andy and seems to be highly respected around the campus for his rarely-dispensed wisdom. And Stuart is Stuart. ‘Nuff said.
The acting by Andy, played by Scott Ganyo, is fair, verging on good, and I especially enjoyed his confused-but-happy attitude that carries that film on an “aww-garsh” Goofy-like sentiment. Even though he’s a feeb, and a vague jerk, you’ll somehow still like him enough to not want him to die. But not enough for him to get away scot-free, of course. That’s where Jen comes in, played by Kate Rudd. She’s the workaholic boss of Andy who has the distinction of yelling at him for about 3/4 of the film. She’s also passable, but I found her to be a little flat, and I felt like she wasn’t as into it as she could’ve been. I’d definitely give her another chance, but if you end up watching this, you’ll know what I mean when I say, “Eh.”
So run, don’t walk! to the internet to catch this light and fast b-movie surprise. It’s cute, it’s fast, and it’s somewhat odd as far as the plot goes. You won’t find much better for $25,000, and I mean that in the sincerest way possible. I would check this out for Stuart and The Pig alone, though, so I might be insane! You can go to their website at www.zorgandandy.com, where DVDs will be arriving soon, if you’re interested. [ED: DVDs are now available from Film Baby.] Out of a possible four, all things considered, I give Zorg and Andy 3 stars and a wink/nod from across cyberspace.
Thanks, 366 Weird Movies, for allowing me to get my hands on this. You’re the best, and I hope this will be the first of many more collaborations between you and I!