Take Me Home (2011) is a terrific indie road trip/romantic comedy well worth seeking out as a satisfying example of how much can be done with a limited budget. The one issue that must be overcome is a moment of stretched credulity that, challengingly, the plot hinges upon. Claire (Amber Jaeger), having just caught her husband flirting with his secretary on a particularly rough day, hails a cab in Manhattan, impulsively tells the driver to “just drive,” and falls asleep, emotionally exhausted. Taxi driver Thom (writer/director Sam Jaegar), who’s been kicked out of his apartment, his not so wordly possessions crammed in the car’s trunk, is more than happy to oblige. So drive he does, until the wee hours of the morning when a not-quite horrified Claire wakes in the cab cruising along the highway outside Pittsburgh. If the film followed the rules of actual life, this is where Claire would get on her cell phone and call the police. Instead, after a brief mild freak-out, she decides to have him drive her all the way to California where her estranged father lies dying in a hospital; Claire is afraid of flying though she makes an attempt at it by having Thom drive her to the airport where she’s unable to force herself to buy a ticket.
Claire and Thom haggle over the price and she agrees to pay him five thousand dollars for the cross-country cab ride; the plot hinges upon this moment and it does stretch believability but it’s plot medicine that goes down easily thanks to the easy chemistry between the leads, a married couple in real life. Sam Jaegar, with his chiseled chin and long face, conveys a less-confident Aaron Eckhart while Amber Jaegar has a fierceness and striking beauty that would be at odds with her character’s frequent crying jags if not for her strong acting chops. Her annoyed looks at Thom are film gold that undoubtedly come from the comfort level this real-life couple bring to the screen. Both actors excel at utilizing their eyes and facial expressions to subtly convey emotion and annoyance with each other to humorous effect.
The film is full of road trip humor and a few tense scenes such as when Claire, herself dosing, wakes to find Thom asleep at the wheel on the highway in the middle of the night. She takes over driving though she does not have a driver’s license and they both wake in the car hours later, Claire herself having fallen asleep at the wheel, the car having drifted safely far off the road into the rural countryside and now out of gas. It’s at once a moment of humility for the angry Claire and an opportunity for the two to bond in a not-unexpected moment in the cold night when Thom shares his jacket with Claire to keep her warm. That’s a nice touch, Thom sharing his coat but not giving it entirely to Claire, speaking volumes about their wary relationship at that point.
Predictability is always a hurdle for rom-coms to overcome and Take Me Home hits a few typical road bumps such as Thom being a photographer who can’t get a break, taking photos along the way including of a reluctant Claire which we just know are going to show up meaningfully at the end, as they do in a coffee-table book of his work Thom somehow gets published. What’s remarkable about this film, at heart a romantic comedy with a healthy handful of tender moments, is how co-star/writer/director Sam Jaeger keeps it uncertain, up until the very end, as to whether these two frustrated and conflicted souls will come together. Along the way we get lots of feistiness and tension between the two, and a few moments that are both funny and touching, especially when accomplished supporting actors Lin Shaye, as Claire’s slightly loopy mother, and Victor Garber and Christine Rose as Thom’s uptight father and bizarrely cheerful mother, are introduced late in the film. By then, we’ve come to care about these two imperfect individuals and it’s enlightening to finally have some light shed on where they come from and how they got to where they are. It’s part of the journey of this road trip film, one well worth taking.
Visit the website to view the trailer and download Take Me Home digitally: http://www.takemehomemovie.com/
Snail Racing is a surprisingly serious sport with people coming for all around the world to take part in the championship held in a little village called Congham in Norfolk. The event started to simply raised money for the local church but now is a massive event bringing a lot of controversy with the likes of sport drugs, illegal breeding and gambling. At first the event comes across as a beautiful, English family fun day out but there are many things hidden in the dark so we went exploring into the underground snail race.
Shown at U-Festival 2014 – http://www.ufestival2014.com/
Visit the website: http://redcherryproductions.wix.com/snails-pace
Find it on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RedCherryProductions?ref=hl
Follow it on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RedCherryProd
To purchase Do No Harm on DVD: http://www.shop.donoharmmovie.com
Do No Harm Website: http://donoharmmovie.com
Do No Harm on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DoNoHarmMovie
Roddy Bogawa’s fascinating documentary, Taken by Storm brings us into the world of Storm Thorgerson, co-founder of Hipgnosis, the company responsible for the unique and often-startling designs of dozens of classic vinyl album covers from the late 1960’s to the 2000’s including such iconic album designs as Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” and Led Zeppelin’s “Presence.” In showing Mr. Thorgerson at work, Mr. Bogawa takes us into an earlier era of artistry, where physical crafting and painstaking staging of photographs were relied on as opposed to the technical shortcuts of today’s computer-generated ease. When Mr. Thorgerson set out to create the cover of Pink Floyd’s “A Momentary Lapse of Reason,” depicting dozens of hospital beds lined up in the English countryside, dozens of hospital beds it was despite the obstacles one would expect to find in arranging such a photograph including the inevitable English rain.
So, too, has filmmaker Roddy Bogawa continued to work often with 16mm film, preferring to get his hands dirty rather than clicking on a mouse. Excerpts from a recent conversation with Mr. Bogawa about Taken by Storm and his approach to film are below. Taken by Storm premiered at South By Southwest in 2011 and screened at the Museum of Modern Art in 2013 as part of Roddy Bogawa: If Films Could Smell, a mid-career retrospective.
Mike Fishman: You’ve worked a lot with 16mm film, which has a tactile nature to it as compared to digital video. Was part of what drew you to this particular subject the tactile feel of film and your interest and teenage memories of album covers, which often opened up to reveal more design elements?
Roddy Bogawa: Absolutely! I learned how to make films doing black and white photography and then super-8 (which was like trying to work with curly pasta!) and then finally 16mm film. I’ve done almost all my work in 16mm film because I love the image, the grain of the film, and the physicality of working with it – threading a film camera magazine, loading and unloading it, even having to take it to a lab to get processed. My last three feature films were all cut in 16mm on a Steenbeck six-plate editing machine which means you work with tape splicers, grease pencils, sharpie pens, and boxes and boxes of film and sound rolls. My memories of learning to work in film have to do with all of this…the editing room as an absolute mess. There used to be notes and pictures taped all over the walls, you could smoke while working, old burrito wrappers on the floor. It was a studio! Now with computer-based editing systems (and I don’t say ‘non-linear’ because cutting on a film flatbed is non-linear editing), you’ve got none of this. You sit in an air-conditioned room, calling in a sushi lunch, and staring blankly at a computer screen for hours. There’s precisely NO physicality to this other than the click of a mouse. Not only is this terrifyingly boring to me but I have a belief that the fact that with film editing you would have to move around, pull the film, look at your cutting marks, find your log sheets to locate a shot, thread and re-thread reels, creates moments when your eyes are forced to look elsewhere and your brain drifts into another space where you get ideas about editing and relationships of shots and concepts.
The act of editing should really be the physical act of articulating your thoughts, but computer-based editing pushes you to be lazy because you can always undo your last edit with a key command. Even if you are quick with a tape splicer, an edit would take a certain amount of time and thus you would think about why you were making a cut before you would do it. This for me is a huge geological shift in editing that came far too quickly. I’m not a technophobe in a cave but I do think tools affect creativity and these particular tools aren’t predisposed for thinking. It’s the same with writing. How quickly has the method of how we write changed with first the word processor and then the computer? At this moment, I’m answering your questions while typing on a laptop and editing and re-writing at the same time as punching the keys rather than trying to write out a draft and then going back and doing a re-write. I try as much as possible to not do this with writing and also editing on a computer system but it’s fighting a landslide of bad habits formed by technology.
It’s a good correlation to pose vinyl records against this parallel shift and I do think it’s possibly one of the reasons that opened the door between Storm and I. Not that we were anti-technological curmudgeons but that we intuitively felt this shift and recognized the larger social function that was getting lost in the shuffle. Vinyl records were not just physical objects but also the source of information in the pre-internet days. This is where you would read about who was the producer and engineer, what musicians played on the LP and also of course, who designed the cover and packaging. Hipgnosis was a name that popped up on many records that I had as a teenager and I was fascinated by the fact that sometimes the “company” or whatever I fantasized it was, was spelled strangely and also occasionally mis-spelled as “Hipnosis.” This was also where you studied pictures of the band to model your clothes or hair style on and when I got into Punk music, where I thought about politics, albeit naïve at the time.
Storm and Po’s covers (Aubrey “Po” Powell was the other founding member of Hipgnosis) were always never easy to pin down and did in fact have many visual puns, hidden meanings, etc. embedded in the design. This was not simply clever packaging but rather taking the notion of packaging to an entirely new realm of meaning. Storm continued this throughout his career up through StormStudios and realized that what he called his “job” was not simply to market the band but instead to create what he called a visual parallel to the music. Thus, the majority of his covers are artistic pieces in and of themselves. In a funny way, I also think this freed up the musicians in certain ways – not locking the image from a cover of one of their records to a particular look or time period thereby dating it.
MF: It’s fascinating how the images on album covers become intertwined with the music, such as the prism on “Dark Side of the Moon” or “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” where the cover directly supports the actual story of the album and the story Peter Gabriel wrote that appears on the inside cover. Do you think the packaging of music will ever move back to something larger or different that will somehow incorporate that experience or we inevitably moving towards only downloadable files?
RB: I really doubt that album covers will shift back to that kind of interplay with the music and in that way, Storm was a true pioneer and genius. He, of course, was not the only one working like this and there is a handful of other designers I quite admire but I have to say Storm was one of a kind for his dogged dedication to exploring imagery in relation to music. That the “Dark Side of the Moon” cover developed from the iconic prism and refracted light graphic to images of pyramids and triangles and such, symbolizing ambition and madness, is emblematic of how Storm’s imagery was expansive in meaning.
The other cover you mention, “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” really is kind of a perfect match to some of what I think was Storm’s strategy in numerous designs. I told him once that one of the overarching interpretations I got from looking hard at the bulk of his design work was that they resembled film stills or still images from a scene caught mid-action which was what always made me curious about what had just happened prior to the image or what was just about to happen. He grinned at me and that was the moment he told me he had studied filmmaking at the Royal College of Art. In fact, Po, his partner, also studied filmmaking at college and after Hipgnosis folded went on to direct numerous music related projects and documentaries as well as commercials. “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway” by Genesis and “Deloused in the Comatorium” by The Mars Volta decades later are both concept albums that are visually evocative so these are cases where the music is moving more into his terrain of expertise. And most of all in something like “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway,” Storm got to do more than one picture for the album! He must have loved that.
While making the film over three years and spending a lot of time with Storm I decided the medium that might have worked best for him was one that got abandoned pretty quickly – the CDRom. In the architecture of a CDRom, he could have had multiple entries and exits to the imagery. It was really the epitome of a rhyzomatic form and Storm’s mind worked in those associative methodologies. I don’t think you can have the same type of pathways of information in an ebook or website with hidden buttons, etc.
In terms of the move from vinyl to CD to mp3, it’s terribly sad, not just for the music industry as it suffers financially but also how we all have lost a real social element that was in my mind very significant. The notion of sitting your friends down after dinner and spinning a record or loaning an LP to someone is completely lost with digital files and how music is now “shared.” We’ve given up what was a bonding tribal ritual for supposed convenience and consumption and moved from music unifying groups of people to the “I-Pod” and “I-phone.” Me. Me. Me. It’s the same with physical photo albums. My grandparents’ photo albums still exist and are on the shelf to pick up and look at, pictures that are 75 years old, but will the same hold true for all those hundreds of thousands of digital photos we’ve got on our hard drives? Unfortunately, I think not.
Above, from left to right: editor Karen Skloss, filmmaker Roddy Bogawa, Storm Thorgerson, and StormStudios photographer Rupert Truman at South by Southwest Film Festival, 2011. Photo courtesy of Rupert Truman.
MF: This may be an impossible question to answer but taking an album like “Dark Side of the Moon,” how much do you think the cover added to the mystique of the album? Do you think the album might have had a different reception if the cover had featured, say, a simple shot of the band on it? And by that I mean not an interesting shot like on Pink Floyd’s “UmmaGumma,” but just a plain still image of the band?
RB: Pink Floyd, by the time they hit “Dark Side of the Moon,” had really abandoned the idea of an image of a band as its identifiable symbol so the graphic of the prism fit perfectly to this arc, and then certainly after the success of the record, it solidified this feeling. Their concerts had already taken on a larger than life aspect with the light show, quadraphonic sound, inflatable balloons and an octopus, so they were moving towards another type of spectacle in their live shows. Maybe it was the advent of “prog rock” that also influenced this shift, that the bands didn’t jump about much as they had to play rather complex riffs and runs, or their desire for people to listen to them live as if visiting a play or theater setting rather than a typical rock concert but any type of portrait is literally gone from the covers after “Piper at the Gates of Dawn” and “UmmaGumma.”
It’s hard to reconcile just why the prism is so perfect for the music contained in the record, or is it that it’s been ingrained in our collective consciousness to the point that we simply can’t separate the two? My memory is that it seemed very futuristic and I always thought of the prism as the monolith from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” hence the black background of outer space, which was also re-enforced by the infra-red images of the pyramids in green looking like Mars. Our inability to immediately decode the prism in relation to the music is testament to its lasting impression in a way and it clearly looks absolutely fantastic on a t-shirt! I can’t say for sure if the reception of the album would have been different with an image of the band on the cover but I do think it would have tagged the lyrics about the music industry and madness too close to the band if there had been this type of design. With this reduced graphic, people can interpret the content more freely and associate some of the songs to Syd Barrett or the snippets of dialogue about violence and death from anyone, even the listener (Editor’s note: see also Storm Thorgerson’s design for Pink Floyd’s follow-up album to “Dark Side of the Moon,” “Wish You Were Here”). The cover also feels out of time and I do think this is one reason that the album has found its place over and over again with new generations of music lovers.
MF: What’s the status of Taken by Storm and where can people look forward to seeing it in the future?
RB: At the moment, I’m dealing with all the clearances and hoping it gets released in the coming months. I’ve been talking with independent booking agents about doing limited theatrical runs and then it’ll be released on DVD and digitally. Storm and I had talked about screenings of the film with music shows afterwards alongside exhibitions of prints of his images (Storm with his studio, StormStudios and various galleries have made limited edition silk screens of numerous images) and crazy things like screening the film in rock concert venues. It’s time for the film to come out now that Storm is gone so music lovers along with graphic designers and even advertising people can see his process and how prolific his life and career was over the forty years he worked. I always told Storm that his influence on culture went way past just the music world and hopefully when the film is widely available this will become apparent.
For more information on Roddy Bogawa and Taken by Storm please visit: http://www.roddybogawa.com.
2013 was a remarkable year in movies, with strong offerings across all the major sectors that attain American distribution – Hollywood; American independent; international art-house; and documentary. Bright spots abounded. An unusually high number of award-season Hollywood films, for instance, were of stellar quality (and could not all make this list). Moreover, a handful of the world’s cinematic masters made movies that lived up to the lofty reputations of their creators.
As with any year, there were also big-budget clunkers, half-baked indies and overhyped stocking stuffers, but 2013 will certainly be remembered for what it achieved rather than for which films disappointed. And as with any year, I have completed this list without having seen every promising film. To name a few: Bastards (Claire Denis); The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer); Ceasar Must Die (Paolo & Vittorio Taviani); The Square (Jehane Noujaim).
Without further ado, here is the 2013 list:
1. 12 Years A Slave (Steve McQueen): In many respects, this is the preternaturally talented McQueen’s most traditional film, but it likewise stands as his most perfect work. Breathtaking performances, a ruthless script, and uncompromising direction make 12 Years the best film we’ve had about the scandalously under represented cinematic subject of United States slavery.
2. A Touch of Sin (Jia Zhangke): Another in ways conventional turn from one of world cinema’s true innovators, Jia’s rigorous exploration of straight-from-the-headlines violence within the underclass of industrial, rising China makes for a gripping action-drama as well as a cri de coeur for a more humane form of economic development.
3. Something in the Air (Olivier Assayas): Assayas’s melancholic, mesmerizing film drifts through the post-Soixante-Huitard malaise in France. The film’s lack of retrospective sentimentality along with its non-judgmental approach to the portrayal of youthful exuberance and political conviction are marks of its power.
4. Blue Is the Warmest Color (Abdellatif Kechiche): Yes, one particular romantic scene shifts from necessarily revealing to perhaps male-gaze pornographic, but Kechiche’s latest is a masterpiece nonetheless. As a piece of cinema dedicated to the examination of young love as it evolves (and devolves) over time, few movies on the subject stand above it. Seydoux and Exarchopoulos captivate in their lead performances.
5. Before Midnight (Richard Linklater): The dynamic trio of Linklater-Delpy-Hawke once again astound with their through-the-years Jesse-Céline tale. This just-middle-age third installment captures spot-on truth-telling sequences amidst crumbling Peloponnese ruins and glimmering Aegean seascapes.
6. Reality (Matteo Garrone): If only everyone who watched Big Brother viewed this haunting but bountiful film about spectacle, reality television and celebrity-consumer obsession. Garrone, the director of the sensational organized-crime study Gomorrah, this time reveals the troubled, entertainment-addled heart of his country, and also of ours.
7. Her (Spike Jonze): The cyber tryst between Joaquin Phoenix’s Theodore Twombly and the Scarlett Johansson-voiced “Samantha” computer operating system plays out magically while Jonze’s anodyne, pastel-toned near-future metropolis secretly screams out in despair.
8. The Grandmaster (Wong Kar-Wai): Hong Kong master Wong reinvents the martial arts genre with this tight-focus, idiosyncratic tone poem of a film, one that feels more wistful expressionist painting than high-octane kung-fu flick.
9. Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach): Mumblecore star Greta Gerwig shines in Baumbach’s whimsical study of post-collegiate New Yorkers struggling to find purpose and recognition in a world indifferent to their carefully cultivated uniqueness.
10. Fruitvale Station (Ryan Coogler): First-time feature director Coogler and essential actor Michael B. Jordan take a tragic piece of news – the New Year’s 2009 murder of Oscar Grant III on an Oakland BART platform – and create a remarkably authentic, complex portrait of a young man whose life ended all too soon.
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order): American Hustle (David O. Russell); Bling Ring (Sofia Coppola); Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen); Computer Chess (Andrew Bujalski); Dallas Buyers Club (Jean-Marc Vallée); La Grande Belleza (Paolo Sorrentino); Like Someone in Love (Abbas Kiarostami).
SEEKING FILM DIRECTORS – www.SonnetProjectNYC.com/directorsignup
NY Shakespeare Exchange seeks up to 154 film directors to participate in a groundbreaking exploration of film, theater, and mobile technology. The Sonnet Project is a massive multi-artist, internet-based interpretation of Shakespeare’s sonnets that will put these astounding poems quite literally into the pockets of people across the globe. We will bring together an adventurous group of filmmakers and actors to create film versions of all 154 sonnets that will live on the Internet and be delivered to the public by way of a specially designed Sonnet Project mobile app.
Each sonnet video will be filmed in a unique location throughout the five boroughs of New York City, the birthplace of American cinema. From the iconic to the forgotten, we’ve chosen locations with deep cultural significance. In this way, we juxtapose the poetry of the city with the poetry of the Bard, and find a deep contemporary relevance for Shakespeare’s sometimes elusive language.
The project launched in 2013 on Shakespeare’s 449th birthday and culminates in 2014 on his 450th. Throughout the year we release a new sonnet video every 2-3 days. The videos and all supporting materials will be available free of charge to anyone in any sector of the population and foster an unprecedented level of access to Shakespearean performance.
Creative Parameters for The Sonnet Project
• The “starring roles” in each video are Shakespeare’s language, the specific NYC location, and the director’s interpretation (teams of film makers are welcome to submit – please choose one person to serve as the primary contact on the submission form. www.SonnetProjectNYC.com/directorsignup).
• Director is responsible for equipment needs.
• New York Shakespeare Exchange will assign the sonnet location.
• Highly skilled classical actors from the files of NYSX will be cast based on each particular sonnet. Director requests for basic actor types (e.g., gender, age-range, etc.) will be taken into consideration when possible. Requests to work with specific actors will be taken on a case-by-case basis.
• An NYSX text coach will work with each actor on interpreting the language, and will be present “on set” to assist with rhetorical technique and clarity of Shakespearean thought. The text coach will also be available to the director for any textual analysis questions.
• Video length must be 120 seconds or less.
• Submitted footage must be fully edited and in an “audience ready” form. NY Shakespeare Exchange will provide logos and specifications for titles and credits.
• The delivery format is 1080 HD 23.98P with sync sound.
• Video must be delivered no later than March 31.
*Once a director has submitted one video, he/she may submit to take on a second, third, even fourth. For all secondary videos the deadline is July 31.
Within these constraints, we challenge each filmmaker to express a personal cinematic style.
Take a look at the video we’ve been using for our pitches: http://vimeo.com/40493664.
WHAT WILL YOUR SONNET LOOK LIKE?
Because NYSX is a nonprofit organization and this program will be free to all audiences, we are looking for contributions of time and talent. There is no pay for involvement. Directors will be fully credited for their work.
Tee’d Off is a independent B&W short about what it takes to hold down a horrible survival job while you pursue your dreams. The characters have some unique ways of dealing with both their friendship and the challenges of being a starving artist in NYC.
Tee’d Off won the audience choice award at the Lake Placid Film Forum and screened at Tribeca Cinemas as part of the Big Apple Film Festival. It’s currently screening as Film Festival Flix National Short film Competition Winner and will be screening at the Landmark theater in Denver CO on DEc 18th.
Watch the trailer here: http://vimeo.com/52335805
Visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Teed-Off/382606175100560
There is an image in Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro’s live-action update of the Japanese mecha genre, where the huge head of Gipsy Danger, the giant mechanical robot (called a “Jaeger,” German for hunter) built to combat alien “Keiju” monsters, is on par with the tops of skyscrapers as Gipsy Danger moves through the rain-soaked streets of Hong Kong. It is an image that hypnotized me as if from a dream and kept me returning to the theater to see the film two more times. I had to see that image again; I longed to re-enter that film-dream just as when I awake from an actual and particularly interesting dream I’ll hit the snooze button to try and get a few more minutes with it. And that image from Pacific Rim had, in fact, invaded my dreams, speaking to me not of violence and a world at war with aliens but simply of pure awesome power. I’m still not sure if I wanted to be the robot, control the robot or simply watch as it lumbered through the dark city. But not since James Cameron’s Avatar had film images so invaded my conscience that I felt unavoidably drawn back to the images, actually felt a need to experience them again, and again.
Personally I’m not hot on films where actors don suits and save the world with super-powers. I was not a huge comic book fan growing up, save for Heavy Metal magazine which featured futuristic landscapes and fantastical pasts as opposed to superheroes. Usually the sight of an actor in a cape and mask, whether human (Batman) or alien (Superman) makes me have to fight to keep from laughing, though I admit I was swept up in some of the sequences of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy. Still, this past summer I slogged through Man of Steel, Wolverine, etc., partly out of my desire to simply see every film I can in an actual theater and partly hoping to be swept up in the pure visuals. But I found myself underwhelmed with the 2013 summer blockbusters until, finally, September was closing in and there was only one big one left: Pacific Rim, with its dubious tagline of “To fight monsters we created monsters.” So there I was, on one of the last precious weekends of the summer, popcorn to the left, soda to the right, trying to remain hopeful as the first images of Pacific Rim came on the screen.
What unfolded was more like a dream than any Hollywood big action movie I’ve seen in years (Avatar, 2009). If anything, Pacific Rim reminded me more of the great silent films (Intolerance, Ben Hur) that created utterly believable realties in the biggest most visual way. Perhaps it was the fact that the heroes of Pacific Rim are not super-heroes; they’re normal humans (albeit highly trained at kicking ass) with flaws whose “suits” are machines they control. No magical powers here. Perhaps it was the dark and intense palette del Toro and cinematographer Guillermo Navarro employed, one might say too dark at times during some of the fight scenes but isn’t that how dreams are when you try and remember them? Alternately sharp as reality and fuzzy at the edges. In fact, in addition to the image mentioned above, I found other images pleasantly invading my dreams, such as the robots being air-lifted and dropped into the churning ocean to do battle, or Mako (Rinko Kikuchi) losing control to the drift (the neural connection between the two pilots needed to operate each huge Jaeger) walking in an ethereal landscape into the memory of a nightmarish experience with a Keiju she experienced as a child.
This is the stuff move theaters were made for. Grand scale and a world that is fantastical but believable. And it all starts with a 16-minute pre-credit sequence that brings you immediately into that world. When the title finally comes up in a borderline-cheesy font, you just know you’re in for a fun and intense ride à la John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China. Within days of seeing the film, I wanted to be on that ride again and so within the week I returned to the theater and amazingly, enjoyed it even more, knowing the story now, able to focus more on the details. By the third time, it was like going to see a band perform whom I had seen many times before; I knew the “music” so well I could take time to focus on the edges of the screen, the edges of the scenes. A fourth time would have been absurd and I didn’t want to wear out that warm feeling, but now that Pacific Rim is out on DVD, I am trying to convince all my friends and film-goers who avoided it to give it the chance it deserves.
Is Pacific Rim a perfect film? No. Problems that were apparent in the first viewing only magnified upon subsequent viewings: the main character has no real arc; the greatest moment of victory comes during the penultimate fight not the climax. And why, if the aliens are clones, is one pregnant? These are hiccups along the way (and perhaps that pesky clone question will be answered in the sequel) but they fall away compared to the visual splendor, the pure visual excitement that del Toro and his team have created. Pacific Rim will be much smaller at home and for those who will only see it that way it will not have the impact it did in the theater. But for those who love action films, who truly love movies that take you into another world, I hope you’ll see it at least on DVD. I think you will be very pleasantly surprised.
Although Pacific Rim is not an independent film, as one of the most enjoyable films of the last five years or so I thought it worth writing about. Mike Fishman