Sunday, September 18, 2022

TIFF 2022 LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE Ang Pagbabalik ng Kwago: Mabuhay ang Sinehan!

 Leonor Will Never Die closed at the 2022 Midnight Madness program at the Toronto International Film Festival. It was a film I did not know anything about which is one of the great aspects of a film festival. You take a seat, the lights dim and go on an unexpected and unknown ride. And what a ride Leonor Will Never Die is. The film is written and directed by Martika Ramirez Escobar.

The title character is Leonor Reyes.  She was a successful screen writer. Shelia Francisco brings Leonor to life with great pathos and passion befitting an aging writer. The screenwriter's days are spent slipping in and out of reverie. She has a fondness for action movies and watches them as much as she can. She also forgets to pay the electricity bill. 

A freak accident sends Leonor to the hospital. The doctor explains her Leonor's condition to Leonor's son Rudie, "Rudie, you see, sometimes, we are awake, other times, asleep. But sometimes, you can be between both. That is called conscious sleep or hypnagogia. That's is the state your mother is now. Right now we don't know how to wake her up, or if she will wake at all. At least we're sure she's alive." Rudie, "How do we wake her up?" The Doctor responds, "You can't wake up someone who is not asleep." It is so with this story as well. A theme of the film is lines. The line between reality and fantasy, life and afterlife, sleep and awake.

The art form of cinema can really deliver on straddling the fictionalized "real world" of the movie and slide effortlessly into a fantasy world the characters of the film drift into. I have always gravitated to films that are movies within movies, mise en aybme. Anguish, Adaptadtion, Videodrome come to mind. This is something seen a lot in horror movies or drama. To see reality and fantasy blend so well in the context of action film was magnificent. Scenes that are exceptionally strong in Leonor Will Never Die are where the reality of the story run into the fantasy action film that Leonor is engaging with. The movie is also a love letter to Filipino action movies from years gone by.

I especially love the scenes of creating the screenplay for the movie within the movie. Ang Pagbabalik Ng Kwago. The Return of Kwago. Depicting writing in a movie is not an easy feat to pull off. Martika's imagination and innovation soar as the film revels in the act of writing A scene where Leonor is simultaneously typing and acting out what is she writing is a sheer joy.

Step back, this where another fight scene happens.

A film is created by a great many folks, I want to also acknowledge the editor Lawrence S. Ang. Pulling together a film that moves within it's own fantasy and reality takes a keen talent to succeed. The look of the reality and the action sequences created by cinematographer Carlos Mauricio are also wonderful.

There is something to be said or in this case, to be written about what the film watcher brings to watching a movie. I watched the film on what is my mother's first birthday after her passing in March. Watching this movie on this day, there was a lot that hit me a lot more as I engaged with the film. Leonor Will Never Die is a film that addresses grief. The movie celebrates the joy and healing in the act of artistic creation. It is also a testament to strong material. Good screenplays never age.Mabuhay ang Sinehan!

After watching Leonor you have to ask yourself why are we not seeing more grandmothers kicking ass in cinema. Ending a story can sometimes prove difficult. Getting a great ending though is uplifting. Leonor Will Never Die, what a great ending to Midnight Madness 2022.

. The screenwriter's days are spent slipping in and out of reverie. She has a fondness for action movies and watches them as much as she can. She also forgets to pay the electricity bill. 

A freak accident sends Leonor to the hospital. The doctor explains her Leonor's condition to Rudie, "Rudie, you see, sometimes, we are awake, other times, asleep. But sometimes, you can be between both. That is called conscious sleep or hypnagogia. That's is the state your mother is now. Right now we don't know how to wake her up, or if she will wake at all. At least we're sure she's alive." Rudie, "How do we wake her up?" The Doctor responds, "You can't wake up someone who is not asleep." It is so with this story as well. A theme of the film is lines. The line between reality and fantasy. Life and afterlife. Sleep and awake.

The art form of cinema can really deliver on straddling the fictionalized "real world" of the movie and slide effortlessly into a fantasy world the characters of the film drift into. I have always gravitated to films that are movies within movies, mise en aybme. Anguish, Adaptadtion, eXistenZ come to mind. Scenes that are exceptionally strong in Leonor Will Never Die are where the reality of the story run into the fantasy action film that Leonor is engaging with. The movie is also a love letter to Filipino action movies from years gone by.

I especially love the scenes of creating the screenplay for the movie within the movie. Ang Pagbabalik Ng Kwago. The Return of Kwago. Depicting writing in a movie is not an easy feat to pull off. Martika's imagination and innovation soar as the film revels in the act of writing A scene where Leonor is simultaneously typing and acting out what is she writing is a sheer joy.

Step back, this where another fight scene happens.

A film is created by a great many folks, I want to also acknowledge the editor Lawrence S. Ang. Pulling together a film that moves within it's own fantasy and reality takes a keen talent to succeed. The look of the reality and the action sequences created by cinematographer Carlos Mauricio are also wonderful.

There is something to be said or in this case, to be written about what the film watcher brings to watching a movie. I watched the film on what is my mother's first birthday after her passing in March. Watching this movie on this day, there was a lot that hit me a lot more as I engaged with the film. Leonor Will Never Die is a film that addresses grief. The movie celebrates the joy and healing in the act of artistic creation. It is also a testament to strong material. Good screenplays never age. Mabuhay ang Sinehan!

Ending a story can sometimes prove difficult. Getting a great ending though is uplifting. Leonor Will Never Die, what a great ending to Midnight Madness 2022.

Friday, September 16, 2022

TIFF 2022 V/H/S/99 A Reflection by Robert Aaron Mitchell

V/H/S/99 a reflection by Robert Aaron Mitchell

The year 1999 has been on my mind a lot recently. I watched Woodstock 99: Peace, Love and Rage and began thinking of the year that was. Culturally turbulent. I remember quite distinctly the buildup, panic and fear surrounding Y2K. The paranoia was very real that computers would not recognize the year 2000 and thereby crash the entire system. Banks where running out of cash. Grocery stores were running out food.

1999 was actually pretty chaotic beyond the millennium scare. It was a year that saw riots at the WTO Seattle of what became known as the battle for Seattle. On June 1st Napster was launched completely changing how we consume culture and entertainment. The Columbine school shooting tragedy occurred. As previously mentioned, Woodstock 99 concert took place. A corporate music festival billed as an anti-commercial love fest which turned into a nightmare, as riots, fires and numerous sexual assaults happened. If you were a teenager in 1999 it was also a time of restless energy, pranks, skateboarding and nights wandering around Blockbuster looking for a videotape to rent.

This bring me to V/H/S/99. Alongside the sequel, the found footage concept is another staple of the horror genre, the anthology film. Creepshow (1980) Southbound (2015) XX (2017) Trilogy of Terror (1975), The ABCs of Death. The V/H/S movies combine found footage as well as the anthology structure. V/H/S/99 premiered at the 2022 Midnight Madness program. The fifth film in the series. I have always had a fondness for VHS tapes and camcorders. I spent the 1990s making ninja fight scenes with my friends. Graduating to more complex gangster and art house movies shot around my hometown. There was indeed a thrill to put in a blank tape with nothing written on the label to see what was on the videotape.

A staple to the structure of the anthology film is the wraparound story. In the case of V/H/S/99 it is less a story than something that begins the VHS tape and is then buried under many other recordings and resurfaces in the midst of tracking lines and static. It is highly imaginative and funny as hell. Little green army men in a stop motion movie with great voice overs. These army men segments are the work of Tyler MacIntyre who also directed a longer segment in the film. Which reminds me in the backyard of a townhouse in Mississauga, Ontario near the Meadowvale Mall are several G.I. Joes I buried alive that never made it back to the base. I have been meaning for quite sometime to return to that townhouse on a mission of archeological importance.

The tape goes through infomercials, BMX stunts, more static, "The Video Journal of Neurosurgery"...and settles into something quite akin to my 1999 experience, videotaping skateboarding at the local skate park and a garage band. This segment is Shredding written and directed by Maggie Levin. Way before YouTube and TikTok the original "content creators" were 90s kids running around with LP videotapes as is the case with this group of friends in a band. Local legend has it that a band called Bitch Cat played a show to very catastrophic results. The kids are going to the place where the show happened to see what they can find. Perhaps some new gear for their band and most definitely some more stuff for them to shoot on their camcorder. The fun of this segment is watching and vibing the transition of kids mugging for the camera, juvenile hi-jinks to suspense and horror in a very quick amount of time.

The unique pressures of conformity when heading to university. It leads some to take on great risks so that the next four years of their life are filled with friends, parties and maybe find a boyfriend or girlfriend. The tape settles on what is Suicide Bid written and directed by Johannes Roberts. Lily has found a sorority that she has fallen in love with and wishes to pledge to. She is so taken with the sorority and afraid of spending her university days alone that she decides to pledge only to them which means that if she doesn't get in, that's it, no sorority, social suicide aka the suicide bid. She meets up with girls form the sorority in a graveyard where she will be placed in a coffin and buried alive. There are safe guards in place. The lengths someone will go to become popular are indeed downright scary.

Ah, the Nickelodeon kids game shows of the 1990s. Competition is fierce and broadcast across the nation. You could lose and be humiliated  on national television It could very well be a nightmare scenario. Losing far more than the competition is where Ozzy's Dungeon directed by Flying Lotus and written by Zoe Cooper and Flying Lotus takes us. The lengths that a Mom will go to right the wrongs for their children is at the heart of this segment. It is also a segment that asks the question, "What would you do for a Sega Dreamcast?"

Another great aspect of the 1990s was the prank. It could be done in person, at a sleepover. For my friends and I, our favorite was the prank was the telephone call. Today's kids will never know the simple pleasure of being complete dickheads and phoning complete strangers in the middle of the night. 

It turns out the little green army men were being filmed by Brady the little brother of Dylan the protagonist of The Gawkers written by Chris Lee Hill and Tyler MacIntyre. Directed by Tyler MacIntyre. The big brother promptly snatches the camcorder back from Brady and begins filming himself flexing in the mirror and prank after prank with his buddies. The extremely hormonal teenagers then focus their camcorder lens on Sandra the girl next door. Turns out that Brady while being a genius stop-motion storyteller also has mad computer skills. Once again we see someone sellout morals for the sake of acceptance. 

The tape of V/H/S/99 winds up in a logical place, New Years Eve 1999. All those fears of the Y2K bug and the new millennium take a back seat in Joseph and Vanessa Winters' To Hell and Back. A group of documentary filmmakers are shooting a documentary with a bunch of people anticipating what the last night of 1999 will bring. "You're in for one hell of a trip" one of the people say to the camera. We can all hope to run into Mabel if our journeys do not take us exactly where we thought we might go. Great creature effects and humor close out the anthology on high note.

The fun of V/H/S/99 are the stories within stories that propel the characters forward in their segments. A doomed band, a tale of a sorority pledge gone horribly array, a horrific appearance on a kids game show. Another completely engrossing and entertaining aspect of the film is being propelled by the imaginations of the storytellers as they take their segments to places you had no idea where they were going to wind up. Watching the filmmakers play within the context of VHS camcorder is also one of the great aspects of the V/H/S anthology films. The end credits arrive with Danzig's "Long Way Back from Hell" blasting. Pitch perfect. 1999 what a fucking year. Don't be a dweeb, rewind the tape for the next person who finds this tape.

 


Wednesday, September 14, 2022

TIFF 2022 THE PEOPLE'S JOKER

 

The People's Joker in a first for the Midnight Madness program screened once at it's world premiere and was hit with a cease and desist order from Warner Brothers. Filmmaker Vera Drew is positive the film will be seen again. As I learn more I will share the details. 



Monday, September 12, 2022

THE BOBBY DIAMONDS STORY Award Winner and Official Trailer

 

The Bobby Diamonds Story has begun it's film festival run. On September 5th the film won Best Documentary Short at the Venice Fullshot Film Festival. I am very grateful and humbled by this award as my short begins the roller coaster ride that is submitting to film festivals.

Underground poker player Bobby Diamonds steps into the spotlight in a hallucinatory, hilarious and heartfelt documentary. Here is the official trailer:

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Happy Holidays from Soldier Of Cinema. Some Festive Film Recommendations.

 

 

Once again it's the holiday season. It's a Wonderful Life is celebrating it's 75th anniversary this year. There is no shortage of holiday themed movies set around this festive season. I decided to take a look at some movies that do not necessarily and readily come to mind this time of year. There have been numerous pieces about Shane Black movies and Die Hard. I wanted to revisit some other films. Once you turn off the Christmas lights the darkness once again emerges. The following films explore some dark natures of the human condition.

 GO (1999) Directed by Doug Liman

"You know what I like best about Christmas? The surprises. It's like you get this box, and you're sure you know what's inside. You know, you shake it, you weigh it. You're totally convinced you have it pegged. No doubt in your mind. But then you open it up, and it's completely different. You know. Wow, bang, surprise. I mean, it's kind of like you and me here, you know? And I'm not saying it's anything it's not. Come on, this time yesterday, who would have thunk it?" Are the opening lines spoken by Claire (Katie Holmes) GO written by John August (Big Fish, Corpse Bride) and directed by Doug Liman fresh off of Swingers and would later helm Edge of Tomorrow aka Live, Die, Repeat is a movie involving multiple stories around the holiday season. The trio of friends who work at a grocery store who wind up in a drug deal gone bad. A pair of actors who are about to have a horrible night. And a group of friends who head in sin city. Vegas baby! When I first saw film years ago it had me hooked when the Columbia studio logo was inter-cut with rave party footage. The film features a great ensemble cast with pretty much every actor moving onto many other film projects. A personal favorite film I revisit from time to time. Working in a grocery store sucks, especially around the holidays. 

JOHNS (1996) Directed by Scott Silver 

"A john once told me that the only one true friend you really  have is the money in your pocket. That I know is complete bullshit. All the following hustler stories however are true. My tale begins and ends with shoes." Donner (Lukas Haas) Several years ago I was watching Sean Baker's exquisite film Tangerine. Another film that takes place on Christmas Eve. As I watching the movie another movie kept popping into my head. I could not remember the title. I did remember that David Arquette was one of the actors and I vividly recall watching it on the Canadian channel Showcase and the film was introduced by now C.E.O. of the Toronto International Film Festival, Cameron Bailey. After searching I found the title of the movie, Johns. The film is directed and written by Scott Silver who would go onto write Joker (2019) The Fighter (2010). Johns begins on Christmas eve. The story focuses on a couple of L.A. street hustlers navigating their world on Christmas Eve. John (David Arquette) and Donner (Lukas Haas). This is another film that features a great ensemble cast. The story features the absurdity, fear, sadness of people operating on the fringes of society. 


SILENT NIGHT (2021) Directed by Camille Griffen

My favorite movie that I watched the 2021 edition of the Toronto International Film Festival was a....Keira Knightley....Christmas movie.... The less said about this movie the better. I urge you to watch it. The couple of folks I recommended it to really dug it. Another great ensemble cast. The stand out actor for me is Roman Griffin Davis (Jojo Rabbit) who is going to have a great acting career. Camille Griffin is his mother. Here is what I wrote about it. Review Here


EYES WIDE SHUT (1999) Directed by Stanley Kubrick

A film that was written about a crazy amount when it was being filmed. From the aspect that Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman were married at the time, to Stanley Kubrick's obsession to details and multiple takes to the how long the shoot was, 400 days. Eyes Wide Shut still holds the record for longest continuations film shoot. Kubrick died days after presenting the film to Warner Brother executives. 

In the opening moments of the movie the Harford couple are at Christmas party Alice (Nicole Kidman) asks William (Tom Cruise), "Do you know anyone here?" He responds, "Not a soul." The season social gatherings are only going to get more awkward as the night progresses. 

A Hungarian stranger by the name of Sandor Szavost that Alice is dancing with asks, "Don't you think one of the charms of marriage is that it makes deception a necessity for both parties." She laughs the fake kind of laugh that only a former SOHO gallery owner can laugh. He is quite insistent on questioning Alice's marriage. Bill is walking around the party with two gorgeous women on either arm. Ah, to be rich and beautiful."Don't you want to go where the rainbow ends?" One of the women asks Bill. Than he is cock blocked. Seems the host of the party is up to his own infidelity transgressions. A woman has overdosed on a speed ball. Dr. Bill gets the woman to open her eyes. It's a Christmas miracle. 

Alice keeps dancing away. The festive lights are oh so beautiful and bright. She is visibly getting tipsy. Sandor is still quite insistent. Alice cuts him off and says they will never see each other again because she is married. The late 1990s really kick into high gear when the Chris Isaak song "Baby Did A Bad Thing." kicks off. It's back to the practice and taking care of the child. Preparing for Christmas. A little weed to take the edge off. Alice than asks Bill if he pursued extramarital relations at the party last night when he disappeared. Bill asks about the Hungarian stranger. The conversation then turns to Bill saying it was only natural that the Hungarian wanted to fuck Alice because she was a beautiful woman. She takes umbrage to this statement. Alice turns it around on Bill that he did indeed want to fuck the two models because they were also beautiful woman. He says he did not. Alice follows up with asking him, "What makes him an exception?" Bill responds, "What makes me an exception is that I happen to be in love with you. And because we're married..." and continues, "and because I would never lie to you..." with his EYES WIDE SHUT! Kubrick the cinematic master left us with the gift of this perennial holiday favorite as his last fully realized work.

 

A L’INTÉRIEUR aka INSIDE (2007) Directed by Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo

A L’intérieur is a story of loss. It is also about motherhood and providing shelter and safety. The film features two exceptional performances from Béatice Dalle and Alysson Paradis.

Sarah (Alysson Paradis) is in a car accident with her husband. He passes away. She survives as well as the five-month-old baby she is pregnant with. Four months later it is Christmas Eve. Sarah is at the a doctor’s appointment. She is due to give birth the following morning. Christmas morning. The doctor says to Sarah, “Enjoy your last night of peace and quiet.” Unfortunately for her Christmas Eve will be the exact opposite of peace and quiet.

Red being a predominate color of the festival season. You will not find another film, which displays this much red in it. A giant pair of scissors is not only for cutting wrapping paper. This movie has for me one of the most terrifying and haunting shots when a face appears from the darkness in a doorway. A L’intérieur arrived at the height of the French new wave of horror cinema.There is so, so, so, much blood. It is not for the faint of heart.

I wish you all a happy holiday season and happy new year. Thanks for reading.


Saturday, November 20, 2021

THE DAY AFTER: Reflections by Robert Aaron Mitchell

 “They made you a moron, A potential H bomb. There’s no future, no future, no future for you” – The Sex Pistols
 
In my childhood - in the late seventies and eighties – premieres for made for television movies were a big event. You would see commercial spots for the newest made for TV movie for months leading up to the big event.  I remember quite vividly the kid floating to the window in Salem’s Lot (1979). When The Exorcist premiered on CBS. My cousins showed me that movie when I was five years old. I had nightmares for weeks afterwards. I used to sneak down stairs and turn on one of the movie channels of my youth, First Choice or Super Channel. This is how I saw John Carpenter’s The Thing for the first time. Runaway train was another film I got up well after bedtime to watch.
 
The most terrifying scene for me personally, premiered on November 20, 1983 on the ABC television network. Ronald Reagan was President. Yuri Andropov was the paramount leader of the Soviet Union and the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or A.I.D.S was a new immune system disorder that was making headlines. Assured mutual destruction and trickle-down economics were buzzwords. Reaganomics was in full effect following massive tax cuts signed into law in 1981. The percentage of people below the poverty line in 1983 had climbed to 15.2%. On March 8th, 1983 President Reagan was speaking to the National Association of Evangelicals where he first said the phrase, “Evil Empire” in reference to the Soviet Union. The doomsday clock was positioned at four minutes to midnight. In November 1983 I was eight years old and living with my grandmother and great-grandmother.

For weeks and weeks we had seen the commercial spots for the latest television movie that was premiering on ABC, The Day After. That November night we gathered around the living room. The ABC Theater logo began. Then a man sitting in front of bookshelves introduced himself, “Hello I’m John Cullum.” And went on to introduce the move. “And this evenings ABC Theater presentation of The Day After I play a father in a typical American family who experienced the catastrophic events of a full-scale nuclear war. Before the movie begins we would like to caution parents about the graphic depiction of nuclear explosions and their devastating effects. The emotional impact of these scenes maybe unusually disturbing and are therefore recommending that very young children not be permitted to watch. In homes where young people are watching we’d like to suggest that the family watch together so the parents can be on hand to answer questions and discuss issues raised by the movie.” Suffice to say my grandmother and great-grandmother did not heed the first part of John Cullum’s warning. The three of us did indeed watch the movie together.


The screen went to black and I had a palpable sense that I was about to see something quite incredible and terrifying. The movie on television began with the following words on the screen: “Although based on scientific fact, this film is fiction. Because the graphic depiction of the effects of a nuclear war may not be suitable for young viewers, parental discretion is advised.”
 
As a kid I loved, loved airplanes. I had notebooks filled with drawings of them. My father would take me an airshow every summer. I knew all the designations of military aircraft. The Day After opens on a Boeing 707 with gray, white and black lettering of the United States air force sitting on the tarmac at SAC Airborne Command Post Omaha, Nebraska. A general boards the plane. Service people are working. This opening scene feels very much like a documentary. The plane roars to life and takes off over cornfields. Big brassy music swells as the camera flies over farms and small mid-west towns. School is staring. Cowboys ride through cattle pens. People are working in manufacturing jobs. The camera flies over Royals Ballpark where George Brett, Vida Blue, Gaylord Perry played months before. It is a beautiful day in Kansas.
 
The ticker tape is humming, the phones are ringing and the numbers are changing on the stock boards at the Kansas Board of Trade. The television news plays as journalists are talking about Soviet Union military buildup along the border of Czechoslovakia. A military helicopter lands at a quaint little house. Military personal run off of the helicopter. They enter a missile silo. “Everything is clean and green.” An air force person informs the others. 

 

Dr. Russell Oakes (Jason Robards) is meeting with his daughter Marilyn (Kyle Aletter) “Hey what’s eating you fruitcake.” he remarks. “I’m sorry just jumpy.” “Ah, you saw 60 minutes last night.” “Huh? No. Come on, I’m taking you to someplace you work right next to and I bet you’ve never been inside in fifteen years.” Sirens are off in the distance. They then wander an art museum. “Sometimes it’s hard to experience a Chinese landscape because the artist does not tell you where you are watching from.” Marilyn informs her dad as they look upon a painting. “You know why?” She asks. Dr. Russell shakes his head, no. “Because he wants you to be in the landscape. A part of it not out here looking at it.” “You mean a God’s eye point of view?” “No, well yes, if by God you mean everywhere inside sort of thing.” Marilyn informs her dad that she is moving to Boston. “Growing up is like growing apart, maybe it’s a natural phenomenon.” Marilyn says. Seconds of silence. Dr. Russell speaks,  “It’s not so easy, saying goodbye.”
 
As families gather for dinner the evening news plays on the radio and television. The Soviet Union is moving large military forces. People pause as an anchorperson relates that East Germany has closed off access to West Berlin. As the sun sets in Kansas, the threat of war is imminent. A baseball game plays. “We interrupt this program to bring you a special report…” East Germany is making more aggressive moves. Life continues. Two sisters chase each other around the house fighting. “Jolene, I’m never going to speak to you again.” An air force man is getting ready to be deployed to his missile silo has an emotional goodbye with his wife. “It’s just an alert, we run around and check things twice instead of once, that’s it.” Life continues as the prospect of war looms larger. There is such a dread the runs throughout The Day After which directly tapped into the zeitgeist of the early 1980s. At any moment actual nuclear was possible and probable. For a country that has in been in continuous declared war for most of the twenty-first century, it is perhaps difficult to grasp how real nuclear war and all out destruction of the planet was. This threat has never actually dissipated. 
 
The sun rises the next day and people continue to go about their day. Tensions continue to escalate in East Germany. A high school football practice is happening. War in Germany is starting. People are leaving Kansas because of the missile silos. The city of Moscow is being evacuated. A man gets a haircut before his wedding the next day. The Russians have invaded West Germany. The highways of Kansas and Missouri are packed with cars leaving the area. Panic. Supermarkets are getting cleaned out. Children watch morning cartoons. The high-pitched tone of an emergency broadcast interrupts the show. Three nuclear blasts are being reported over advancing Soviet troops. Air force troops scramble to B-52 bombers. Another nuclear bomb has exploded at regional NATO headquarters.
 
Forty-nine minutes and twenty-seven seconds into The Day After a woman is drying off after a shower. Her kids are playing outside. The farmhouse begins to shake. In the window behind her a huge plume of light and smoke emerges from the ground. She rushes to the window. A horse neighs and bolts in slow motion. The kids stare in awe of the missile emerging from the silo. The nuclear missile is airborne. The unthinkable is happening. When Jim Dahlberg (Jim Cullen) carries his wife Eve (Bibi Besch) downstairs to the cellar and Eve is screaming it is bone chilling.


We see the Kansas City skyline. The wailing of warning seconds give way to silence. The shot pulls back. The sound of a large boom followed by a brilliant flash of light. Electricity goes out, rooms immediately darken. Clocks stop. Cars stop. A fireball explosion begins on the horizon. The television screen goes white. Only the silhouettes of cars on the highway are visible. The explosion starts to rise from the ground, rising upwards, forming a mushroom cloud. Vast destruction. More explosions. Mushroom clouds. The screen flashes.
 
In an entire film filled with the horror of nuclear war, it is a forty second sequence that really got to eight year and now forty-six year old me. It begins with a woman flashing into a skeleton and then ceasing to exist. An entire classroom of children flashes into skeletons and cease to exist. Within flashes of red, white and blue one hundred and seventy life forms flash into skeletons and are instantly evaporated. Among the evaporated, fifty children, six cattle, the horse from the first missile launch and one dog. The most violent fictional forty seconds ever aired on American television. I had nightmares for weeks.

As a Generation X child, it felt like the world could end at any moment. The psychological effect of these catastrophic images at such a young age were deeply embedded in my imagination. I often think of my worldview of the future being such an abstract thought and how I often live within the moment. To both a benefit and a detriment. I hadn’t had nightmares of nuclear war for many years until the 45th President was elected. As the Covid-19 pandemic continues it still feels as though there is no future for you. Scientists developed the doomsday clock in 1947 to convey the threats to humanity and the planet.  The doomsday clock is set every year. As of January 27, 2021 the Doomsday clock is set at 100 seconds to Midnight. The closet to extinction the clock has ever been set.


 

Friday, October 22, 2021

I STILL SEARCH FOR YOU: A Cinematic Sketch by Robert Aaron Mitchell

 

I have been living in the middle of a cattle ranch in South Texas for a couple of months now. The area is very isolated and has amazing visuals. Everyday I have some sort of encounter with wildlife. Be it a snake chasing a frog I saw when out driving. A baby owl trapped near a cactus. The fleeting glimpse of a deer jumping over a barbed-wire fence. I wander the ranch in the hot Texas sun formulating ideas to create several short films. I decided to edit some of my cellphone footage I have been taking, to put together, what I'm calling a cinematic sketch. I used several filter and editing tools available at the app store to play around and manipulate the images. This is the result. 

I Still Search For You. A man walks in around a cattle ranch ranch in South Texas in a hallucinogenic state.