Pacific Rim

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

Posted in Film Reviews, etc.

The Stream, directed by Estlin Feigley

Brief Synopsis:

A long time ago… In the summer of 1981…

A tragedy of epic proportions sends five friends on an epic adventure. All they have to do is follow The Stream and back. What could possibly go wrong? Encountering bullies, a nasty storm and mystical creatures, the friends will need the force of friendship to prevail.

The Stream is a completed film. It has its red carpet premieres in Union Square, NYC on Oct. 15th, and at LA Live, LA on Oct. 16th. The movie premieres in select Regal Cinemas nationwide on Oct. 18th.

The movie’s website is : www.thestreammovie.com and movie times can be found at regmovies.com

Facebook pages: https://www.facebook.com/JacobMatthewWilliams or https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dreaming-Tree-Films-Dreaming-Tree-Foundation/216181508472792?fref=ts

IMDB pages: www.imdb.com/name/nm5290626/ or http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2752736/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jacob_Williams8 or @dream_tree

Movie Theaters Showing the Film :

NEW YORK:
UA Kaufman Astoria Cinemas 14 & RPX
35-30 38th St., Astoria NY 11101
Regal New Roc Stadium 18 & IMAX
33 Le Count Place, New Rochelle NY 10801

CHICAGO:
Regal City North 14
2600 N. Western Ave, Chicago, IL
Regal Cantera Stadium 17 & RPX
28250 Diehl Road, Warrenville IL 60555

PHILADELPHIA:
UA Riverview Plaza Stadium 17
1400 S. Columbus Blvd., Philadelphia PA 19147
UA Washington Township 14
121 Tuckahoe Rd, Sewell, NJ 08080
Regal Peoples Plaza Stadium 17
1100 Peoples Plz, Newark, DE 19702

BOSTON:
Regal Solomon Pond Stadium 15
591 Donald Lynch Boulevard, Marlborough MA 01752

LOS ANGELES & ORANGE CO.
Edwards Long Beach Stadium 26 & IMAX
7501 Carson Blvd Long Beach, CA 90808
Edwards Irvine Spectrum 21 IMAX & RPX
65 Fortune Dr.,Irvine,CA,92618

SAN FRANCISCO / OAKLAND:
UA Emery Bay Stadium 10
6330 Christie Ave Emeryville, CA 94608

SAN DIEGO:
Regal Parkway Plaza Stadium 18 & IMAX
405 Parkway Plaza, El Cajon CA 92020

WASHINGTON DC / BALTIMORE / VA:
Regal Majestic Stadium 20 & IMAX
900 Ellsworth Drive Silver Spring, MD 20910
UA Snowden Square Stadium 14
9161 Commerce Center Drive, Columbia MD 21046

ATLANTA:
Regal Hollywood Stadium 24 @ North I-85
3265 NE Expressway Access Rd, Chamblee GA
Regal Atlantic Station 16 IMAX & RPX
261 19th Street NW, Atlanta GA 30363

MINNEAPOLIS:
Regal Brooklyn Center Stadium 20
6420 Camden Ave North, Minneapolis MN 55430

DENVER:
UA Colorado Mills Stadium 16 & IMAX
14500 West Colfax Ave., Lakewood CO 80401

DALLAS / FT. WORTH:
UA Grand Prairie 10
510 Westchester Pkwy, Grand Prairie TX 75052

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

Chance of Rain, directed by Philipp Wolter

AWARD WINNING BROOKLYN BASED PRODUCTION COMPANY BRINGS ITS MOST RECENT FILM TO SAN FRANCISCO

The FilmGym, an independent film production company based in Brooklyn, New York, will have its second west coast screening next month of the award winning film Chance of Rain, at The San Francisco Festival of Short Films. The film debuted and took home the award for Best Short Film at the prestigious Sonoma International Film Festival in April.

Chance of Rain is directed by Philipp Wolter and stars Wolter and his wife, Michelle Glick, who are the driving force behind FilmGym. As succinctly described by Roger Ebert writer Anath White, “they possess the sort of beauty which could easily inspire envy in others, yet they’re also down-to-earth and instantly likable. Their moody, atmospheric film takes us into a world we’d willingly spend more time exploring with its intriguing characters. When it wins Best Narrative Short (at Sonoma), the applause is heartfelt.”

Chance of Rain is a dramatic love story, beautifully shot by cinematographer Eun-ah Lee. “I saw this piece as a play several years ago,” says Wolter, “and the story always stayed with me. So I contacted the writer, Chisa Hutchinson, and we collaborated on a screenplay version of her story.” Chance of Rain is FilmGym’s follow up to The Bridge, another short film that played at Sonoma in 2011, winning the festival’s Audience Award and later going on to qualify for an Oscar.

“The Audience Award really meant a lot to us,” says Wolter, “because we didn’t know a soul in the audience, and Sonoma has packed out screenings, even if you have an early morning time slot, the crowds really show up for the films.”

Since 2004 FilmGym has been based in Brooklyn, and grown from an arena for actors and filmmakers to collaborate and work on their craft into a production house boasting films and commercials that have won awards at both the local and international level. In addition to building an impressive portfolio of work, the duo hosts International short film screenings, a monthly screenplay reading series and have become accomplished actors in their own right. Wolter will be seen later this year in Blood Ties, starring Clive Owen, Marion Cotillard and Mila Kunis; and Glick continues to tour with her autobiographical one woman show, Asian Belle.

“We feel incredibly fortunate to bring our work to San Francisco,” says Glick. “We look forward to sharing our stories with festival audiences and beyond.”

Contact: Sarah Baskin
Email: SarahBaskinPR@gmail.com
Website: www.filmgym.com

Posted in Filmmaker Profiles

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