Wednesday, August 08, 2012

End of the line for film unit

Glad to be at (The Last) Film Fest on campus, not because it's really the last, but because as a supporter of campus arts I should show sympathy for an activity that could not sustain membership interest beyond its five or so years of existence. The same could happen to any one of us and if was the end, I'd like a few friends to be there to say goodbye.

I'm also glad that at the end, the quality of production has seen significant improvement since its inception. Back then their short films were more artsy mucking about with a camera than actual film narratives, but their latest efforts do indeed have stories to tell.

"Highlight" and "No Ordinary Girl" delivered one-liner punchlines that relied on a patient build-up of repetitive time passage clips. Despite the repetition, there were sufficient variations on the theme and pacing to avoid the haven't-we-seen-this-before syndrome.

Short, "Pranked" likewise relied on passage of time, but with a reveal at the end showing the victim somehow turning the tables on the prankster. I didn't quite follow the logic of this vignette, but it had some funny moments nonetheless.

The two main features, "Home Movie" and "Clockwise" were equally commendable. "Home Movie" experimented with the family drama crossed with horror genre and concluded with a Scooby-Doo inspired farce with a little implied violence on the side. Tension was built around a few peekaboo moments, a couple of which were quite effective; but because the resolution was played for laughs and the conclusion was slightly preachy, I felt that the narrative could have made up its mind first what it wanted to be instead of going schizophrenic on us partway through.

Finally, "Clockwise" was something of a "Groundhog Day" setup in which a whole week of misadventure was undone by a magic device that turned back time to where the trouble all started. A romantic comedy with a wish-fulfillment theme about the wisdom of hindsight -- if only we knew to make the right choices at the right time our lives would be so sweet. Maybe it's a subconscious message to the audience to get cracking on their final exams. Since not everyone can be so lucky to get a time-turner, we just have to get it right the first time.

I could talk further about awkward and unnatural camera-angles, uncertain and occasionally pointless establishing shots and the wisdom of investing in a tripod, but let's just call the overall effort a learning process via a work in progress. Sadly, no one's left to pick up the mantle and continue making improvements next year.

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