Thursday, January 21, 2010

Able Edwards (2004)

Written, directed and edited by Graham Robertson…. That should tell you what you need to know about this film! The movie also went direct to video!

It should be awful, but it’s actually quite good.

I listened to it twice within a 3 hour period, the second time with the director and producer talking about the film. These voice overs are normally pretty boring, often little more than a litany of ‘wow, look at how great we are!’ But with Able Edwards it manages to become interesting.

For example, Graham tells of the time he had 10 or so hard drives spread over the floor (!) and then dropped something onto his processor (or whatever…) causing his entire system to die the death.

After some scrounging he managed to plug in a new thingee and was operational, only to discover that the software he used had locked itself onto his earlier processor (or whatever…) and would no longer work with the new one. Everything he had done had disappeared and what he needed to progress had locked itself into a metaphorical hyperstasis vault.

Obviously Graham managed to find a solution to his dilemma but the key to the story seems secreted in the notion that he actually edited the movie in his living room with hard drives stacked about the floor!

In another wondrous moment Graham realized that he had to have a face for 3 critical albeit brief moments in the movie, so remembering a neighbor from the apartment down below, he trotted down, tapped on her door with his digital camera in hand and asked if he could take a few pictures for his movie. She complied and, although she never says a word nor even moves (think still camera), she has a critical role to play in the cycle of the story.

How excellent.

I could go on but really what’s the point. Obviously Graham made this film for his love of movies (it’s an homage to Citizen Kane — among other things), but is it any good?

Every film I review begins with a ‘Gentleman’s’ grade of C — average — and then we see what we see. Or at least in theory this is what I do (I have a weakness for even mediocre Fellini films).

So let us see what happens with Graham’s film.

We start with 3 points (a ‘C’). Loose a half point for strange things happening to bodies and faces when the green screen is filled in (did I mention that the entire film was made against a green screen? No? Well, it was.).

Gain a full point for use of the green screen for the whole movie.

Gain a full point for being in black and white. Loose a half point for not being in color….

(I know. I know.)

Lose a point for flakey looking moments when characters are walking and clearly not walking (you’re understand when you see the movie).

Gain a point for this being an echo of Hitchcock and done deliberately.

Gain a half point for the android played by Steve Beaumont Jones. There is a key moment in the movie when the power structure inherent (and hidden) in the world of Able Edwards decides to end the ‘exercise’ and tells Gower (our android friend) to stop the process and (well I’ll quit here since I’m really close to a Spoiler)….

Let me just say that Gower / Steve gives his character a blank android ‘look’ that both says nothing and everything. It’s a wonderful moment. And then there’s the ending where Gower…. Nope, Spoiler lurking. Edit! Edit!

Ok, where was I?

Oh yes, counting coup, er, points.


So I will steal a couple of comments from another reviewer, Mahaus (a reviewer from West Chester, PA on Netflix).

First one: “The musical score is one of the best I can remember in any film I’ve seen.”

Yep — what he says. The music is great. Hmm… that sounds flat, but since I don’t have an MP3 of the representative tunes, I’ll let it go at that, but do listen to the music — it’s more than background.

Mahaus goes on to suggest something both obvious and that I hadn’t quite digested before I read his/ her note: “… the film has one of the most unique and unexpectedly upbeat endings in film history.”

Ok, here’s my thing: I thought the ending was a bit downbeat! And here’s friend Mahaus (from PA) saying it’s upbeat! What’s going on here?

Perhaps if I told you the ending you’d understand the ambiguity.

Nah. That would spoil it.

But suffice to say the photos Graham took of his attractive neighbor down the stairs plays a part as does Gower….

You can find another clue in an early moment where Able, beta version, is instructed to look upon the history of the earth and we (as digital audience) may pause our machines and read a few headlines which might make one wonder about what may really be going on (or not).

And then there’s the senator who physically appears in only a few seconds of film, but actually plays a part in the meaning of the ending — the meaning of the UPBEAT ending of the movie (yep, Mahaus is right…) and the oh, so deeply hidden meaning (subtext?) of Able’s frequent rants about making it ‘real.’

Did I say this was a sci fi film?

… Or that it echoes the life/ career of Walt Disney?

And, hmm, one more thing… I’ve avoided telling you anything (directly) about the plot because it’s a good story and one that you should see and enjoy without foreknowledge.

5 Smilies out of 5 (bumped up because of the great music and ending).

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