Monday, July 27, 2009

Comic-Con - Day 4

Sunday is wrap-up day at Comic-Con. The hard-core professionals, after attending the various show parties Saturday night, have already left. The retailers, looking at the stacks of unsold product, start making deals, cutting prices to avoid shipping it back home. Walking through the halls, you see knots of people comparing experiences, giving each other hugs good-bye, saying things like, "Next year we're gonna stay at Kevin's..." or exchanging email and phone numbers to stay in touch.

As I start on the long drive home to Pasadena, the same distance but taking twice as long due to traffic, my thoughts start to shift from the people I've met and the things I've seen and heard, to things I want to do: By next year, I hope to have my novel done. By next year, I'd like to have a graphic novel to pitch. By next year, I'd like to write a script for a short film and see if I can find someone willing to help me make it.

There's always more things I want to do than I could possibly do in a year, even if I had all the time in the world to do it. But that's OK. Comic-Con is about putting your mind in a place of dreams, where heros always win, where you have powers no one knows about, where you converse with alien beings in a congress of sentient creatures from around the galaxy. Comic-Con is about dreams. Making those dreams manifest for others to share... That's my job.

Comic-Con International Independent Film Festival

Every year, Comic-Con hosts a festival of independent short films. The films in the Science Fiction category were presented on Sunday afternoon. I watched at least a part of all of them this year. Below is a run-down of what I saw. Where possible, I've provided a link to the movie or information about it. I encourage everyone to see them all for yourself.

Hirsute - A story of a young time traveler who confronts an arrogant, and hairless, version of himself. This was the most "science fictional" of the entrants in that the science fiction element was inherent to the story itself. It was also the most thought-provoking and ended up being my favorite. A.J. Bond wrote, directed and starred in the piece.

Turbo - A misspent youth named Hugo Park enters a tournament for the arcade game "Turbo," a futuristic version of 'Street Fighter' where players enter the game via avatars they create. The story is somewhat derivative, think "Karate Kid" meets "Tron," but it's a fun film that's well played and performed. The creators are trying to get backing to make it into a feature film. It straddles the line between original and formulaic enough for someone in Hollywood to take them up on it.

The Son of Santo - A film from Guatemala about a boy who mistakenly believes that his father is a famous masked lucha wrestler. When both his father and the masked wrestler die on the same day, the orphaned boy's dreams of taking his father's place as a hero becomes a shield against the staggering poverty and violence of the life he faces on the street. Then, his dreams seem to start becoming real... This was a very intriguing film which I unfortunately didn't see the ending of (the disk refused to play after about the middle of the movie and they didn't have a back up). The film was a bit slow at times, but I like to see it to the end to see how it turns out.

The Winged Man - Daysi, a high school student, becomes pregnant. When asked which boy it was she slept with, she insists that the father was a "Winged Man," the last of an angelic species that used to populate the Earth. A lyrical tail steeped in mystical realism, you're never quite sure whether Daysi is telling the truth, lying to protect someone, or lost in a world of her own imagination. According to the creators, the movie was based on a play by the same name.

Afterglow - Set in the aftermath of a failed alien invasion, two militiamen investigate a farmhouse after their vehicle runs out of gas. Andres Anglade, the writer/director, said he wanted to look at the aftermath of a big event and the impact it had on people. I liked the concept of the story, and the writing and photography were good. I don't think the acting hit the mark well enough to convey the director's vision.

Over the River and Through the Higher Dimensions - A guy visits his grandmother and uses the teleporter she's built for him to see the mysteries of the universe. This piece seemed to be as much a scientific prose-poem than a story. I'm not sure if the filmmaker is a genius searching for his voice, or a clever kid with too much time on his hands. It did keep my attention, though. The best parts were a fanciful, and surprisingly accurate, description of string theory given by the grandmother and an stop-action animated sequence where a robot version of the filmmaker is made on film. He brought the head to the panel to show everyone. He said, "Yeah... Keeping it in my apartment is scary sometimes 'cause, I'll like see it in the corner and think 'Shit, it's me!'" A fun piece.

Believe - An eight year old boy builds a machine to communicate with his dead father in the hopes of being saved from an abusive step-father. The musical score for this film was the best of any in the festival. Unfortunately, it was one of the few things I could commend about it. It had the feeling of someone writing about things they thought they should be writing about, rather than something that really meant something to them. As a result a lot of the moments felt like they were taken more from other films on the subject of abuse than from real life.

Goodsam and Max - A good natured young girl named Sam wanders the post-apocalyptic west with a swearing, Uzi-toting, cigar smoking alcoholic teddy bear named Max. This film felt like a parody of post-apocalyptic movies like "Mad Max" and "Tank Girl," though I don't think it was intended to be. The best part was the rather long animated opening which everyone applauded. I think they believed, like me, that it was the movie and not just an introduction.

Schrödinger's Girl - A scientist conducting experiments regarding alternate universes discovers a way to travel to different dimensions where she meets alternate versions of herself with ulterior motives. This British made film was the longest of the offerings at the film festival and felt it. The film starts off on a scientific error, when the scientist claims that they are conducting an experiment to see if there are alternate dimensions by using a quantum computer (the very existence of a working quantum computer is proof the of the 'many worlds' theory that alternate dimensions exist). The filmmaker then tries to show us the story lines of each of the different versions of the scientist, jumping from one dimension to the next, in an effort to tell their stories in parallel. I would have preferred that he focus on the one from 'our' time and showing us what happens from her point of view. He starts adding a number of subplots to the film (an assistant that can already communicate with alternate versions of himself; an effort to find the missing husband of one of the alternate scientists). The jumping around and the many different story threads make this a very difficult and confusing piece to watch. I ultimately decided to skip the ending to fight the traffic home.

If you're on Facebook, you can see the photos I took at Comic-Con by clicking here.


Post a Comment

<< Home