What The Day Was About

Today I went to see some films. I’ll be going to see some more films tomorrow, and again on Sunday, and again on Monday. I’ll be seeing eight chunks of filmed science fictional entertainment in all. I don’t say “eight films” as one of those chunks is a series of shorts. I’d have liked to get to see more of the shorts, but my two different budgets limits (the “money” budget and the “hours spend in dark rooms” budget) wouldn’t really permit more.

I went in fairly early as I wanted to go and find the new (note: not actually new) location of Gosh Comics, and sure enough, I found it. Picked up a few more TPBs. I really do need to get rid of some that I soured on after buying the complete collection to make room (Y: The Last Man – good comics, but rubbed me up the wrong way).

Anyway. The main events – the films. I’m going to see these as part of the 11th Annual Festival of Science Fiction and Fantastic Film (aka: Sci-Fi London). I like watching weird and wonderful SF films, and don’t often get the chance to do so. I’d had my appetite whetted a bit at Eastercon by a preview screening and a few of the shorts films, and decided I needed to get out and do something that was non-stressy… so booked for the previously mentioned eight slabs of film entertainment whilst the opportiunity was there. The festival’s been running all week, but the earlier films all either clashed with other things I was doing or were at times that were awkward to get to after work or get back from once they’d finished… So I just booked today off work and an treating it as a four day weekend.

Today I saw the first two of my eight. I was quite early for both because I figured that was better than being late, especially as the programme says “no late admissions” and that the times listed are start times. The routine seems to be to show a quick short before each film, then the festival director gives a brief intro, then they launch straight into the film.

Film 1 – Extracted

First up was “Extracted” – starring recent genre TV stalwart Sasha Roiz. I’m glad I picked this one to start with as I thoroughly enjoyed it. It had its UK premiere on Wednesday night, and this was the second showing. I almost didn’t pick this as one of my eight chunks, but changed my mind to include it (instead of one of the shorts programmes) at the last minute. I’m very glad I did. It’s a very well made and well put together psychological SF piece focussing on a man who’s developed a technology to step into and work through peoples memories to repair their past traumas, but who accepts funding from people who put it to other uses.

There’s nothing startlingly original about a “going into somebody’s memories to see if they’re guilty” plot, but this one handles it pretty well. It keeps it tight, and has some interesting and new twists along the way. I don’t want to say too much, but I doubt it’s much of a spoiler to say “things don’t go as planned”. I’d certainly recommend this one pretty widely – it’s not exactly a thrill-a-minute action ride (which is good – I’d have been bored if it was, probably) but it is well put together and a fine example of this particular trope.

The performances were of a universally high standard – unusual in low budget SF films, in my experience. Not just from the previously mentioned Sasha Roiz, but from everybody else as well.

The film kept the tension up and mostly managed to avoid dragging in the middle. I also, as somebody who works in software development, find the cause of what went wrong to have a certain resonance to it.

Recommended, and if I can ever find it, I’ll be picking up a DVD.

Film 2 – Cycle

The second film of the day was Cycle.

Beyond that, I have no idea.

No, seriously. I have no idea. It’s a 70s SF & psychedelia inspired / 80s synth soundtrack bleak weirdness headfuck. In motion captured CGI. With, amongst other things, a weirdly subdued party with disco lights. In spacesuits. At the end of the world. Maybe.

I think I can kind of see what it was trying to do, if I squint a bit and turn my head sideways. It was stylishly done, and the only thing that yanked me out of it occasionally was the delivery of the dialogue, which I suspect was largely delivered by the hungarian CGI designers and animators. It wasn’t badly delivered, but it was certainly oddly delivered. Then again, I think oddly off-kilter was clearly one of the design goals.

I’m not sure what to make of it yet. I might need to watch it again one day to try to parse it.

Either way, I don’t object to having paid to see it, so it’s not a failure. There was a lot of interesting stuff going on visually and the soundtrack was pretty mighty, so it’s got that too.

Still to come

Tomorrow I’ll be seeing Sol and Hell. On Sunday I’ll be seeing Blink of an Eye: Shorts #1 and The Last Push. On Monday, Exit and Sound of My Voice. They’ve also snuck an extra screening of Radio Free Albemuth in on Monday, which I had been interested in earlier in the week but unable to attend. If there are seats still available and my brain chemistry isn’t going to go all mad science as a result of too much time in the dark, I may get a ticket for that too. I’ve heard it’s very good.