Here we are for another review on the contestants for the narrative short film category at the VIMEO Awards 2012.
Tonight’s review is of Prologue, by Bradley W. Ragland:
Man starring at the fog. Seems to be broken from inside-out. Then the voice over begins. Oh god and its the ‘Terrence Malick’ kind of voice-over. This smells as pretentious bullshit from miles away. Meanwhile, the scenario change, a masked man is hidden, a woman enters the house, unaware of the intruder. He gets her and drags her through the corridor. The man from earlier wakes up, the voice says “each ending has a new beginning” throwing pompousness all over the place. The man is a chain-smoker police detective, it seems. “Will we ever overcome our own sadness?” says the voice over girl and i can only wish she could shut up.
— It’s really hard to make a decent voice-over, The Ghosts did it pretty well though. You must not narrate what the image is already exposing, like Forrest Gump (and yes, i have some aversion to Eric Roth). Voice-over should always include something we can’t see, but yet its relation to the image must be very clear, you can’t pace your wings and fly too high. The content of the voice-over must be different, still not discordant. Prologue seems like an attempt to develop two films, an investigation-plot based in the image and a post-modern impression in the voice-over. We can’t link both of them, so we can’t rationalize them into the same narrative.
The man visits the crime scene alone. A Manhunter moment. “And the questions begin. We’re always looking for answers”. For God’s sake that must be the most annoying and cheesy voice-over i’ve ever heard. The detective finds a coded-note behind a wall clock. What made he look rear of it we’ll never know. And it’s a shame because that’s really easy to input in logical terms. “You get as close as you can until you only see yourself”. No comments, right? The detective is in a restaurant, trying to crack the puzzle. Meanwhile our killer is driving his truck, carrying the lady’s body wrapped in shiny green plastic. He buries her in a shallow grave, close to the location we began the film. “When you think like them, you slowly become like them”. Someone please shoot down this woman. The killer calls the detective. Teasing him. But the man’s first words in the film make him look like a worried husband. The detective drives to the body’s dumping site. “We all want to believe into something good. We hope and pray for a better life. A better day”. The man finds the grave, but leaves the scene.
— This has FILM STUDENT written all over it. I checked the director’s website and a short film opens it. This frame i included here is from the very beginning of the movie. And tell me that’s not totally Terrence Malick, you might not remember which film, i don’t; possibly Tree of Life or Days of Heaven (feel free to refresh my memory), but the essence is there. I love Malick, don’t get me wrong, but in this clear inspiration lays one of the most alarming and common issues from film students.
— Great directors have a specific style, that’s what authorship is all about. When amateurs plagiarize the ‘quarter pounder with cheese’ dialogue from Pulp Fiction they forget that even the most ludicrous signature has to work out for the film needs. In the Tarantino’s, Jules and Vicent are going to intimidate some guys whom screwed with their boss, killing them after, therefore the previous dialogue show how old in the business are them, there’s not even a sign of anxiety. It’s routine. That’s how you make a pop culture casual conversation to work out in a movie. The same goes for the Nouvelle Vague/Tarkovsky wannabe (if you hit a film school tree, at least half fallen apples gonna be this kind) with their boring long shots of a dude staring at the wall. These students only see the reference they want, as a big Tarkovsky fan myself, i can affirm that his long shots have outer action. That long shot in the Zone, at Stalker, has the rain and camera movement. Zerkalo then, possibly Tarkovsky’s most magnificent shots all with action and a purpose. Movement. Rhythm. And do you wanna really know why these hipsters will never be able to reach those guys? Because they weren’t copying, but groundbreaking.
— Same goes for Malick. Commonly when the phylosophical voice-over begins, the images are organized in order to give credit to what the voice is saying. And even worst, in Malick we have a face to the voice, in Prologue we don’t.
This is pure pretentious garbage, however the lesson is worthy.
19/05: The Ghosts, by Eddie O’Keefe; (read)
20/05: Prologue, by Bradley W. Ragland;
21/05: Webcam, by Zbros Productions;
22/05: A Bitch, by Matthew Miller;
23/05: Left Right, by Tom Willems;
24/05: The Hive, by Blind Aura Pictures;
25/05: Hooked, by Stuart Howe;
26/05: Pothound, by Christopher Guiness;
27/05: The Division of Gravity, by Rob Chiu;
28/05: Blinky™, by Ruairi Robinson;
29/05: Human Beings, by Jonathan Entwistle;
30/05: Ham Sandwich, by Dave Green.