Friday, May 11, 2012

What I Saw at the Sci-Fi London Film Festival, by Fiona Aged 37 1/2

Clone: Explores one of the logical, if disturbing, results of human genetic engineering: a woman whose boyfriend dies suddenly in an accident arranges to give birth to his clone.... with the inevitable disturbing possibility of incest emerging as the child grows up and starts to resemble the man she knew. Stars Matt Smith just before he took over the role of the Doctor, and showing why he was a good choice for the role.

Robo-G: Probably my favourite film of the festival (and that's a very tough choice indeed): a Japanese comedy about a team of robotics engineers who "cheat" and hire a septuagenarian to pose, in costume, as their robot at a technical expo, but the stunt rapidly gets out of hand. Definite proof that the Japanese can laugh at themselves-- taking in robotics, cosplay, strange fetishes, gerontology, and mecha-- but also touching on a lot of themes that everybody can relate to.

Shuffle: Sort of like Slaughterhouse 5 crossed with The Time Traveler's Wife, as a man finds himself unstuck in time, traveling through his life in a series of seemingly random jumps, knowing he has to save someone's life-- but who that someone is, and how they need to be saved, is not entirely what he thinks it is.

The Golden Age of Science Fiction: A subtly revealing documentary about Joseph Campbell, editor of Astounding, exploring his positive role as a nurturer of talent and exponent of good SF stories, while not sugarcoating the fact that he was a casual racist, sexist and anti-Semite.

Exit: Strange and beautiful Australian film, portraying modern urban life as a kind of nightmarish maze, and following a group of people who become convinced that one of the doors in the city is an exit. Partly an exploration of fanaticism and obsession, and how half-remembered childhood beliefs can drive us as adults without our realising it, but also a meditation on what exactly is an "exit" in such a context.

Ghosts with Shit Jobs: I was really looking forward to this and wound up being slightly disappointed by it. It's got a great premise (the "ghosts" are Canadians, in a future where China is the dominant power, and all the shit jobs are outsourced to North America), some good acting (the woman who did piecework assembling robot babies was scarily convincing as a frustrated talent about to go postal), and makes such clever use of its small VFX budget that you don't actually realise how small that budget is. My problem was mainly that it carried on longer than it should, and in particular the ending wound up being dragged out to the point where my disbelief started to un-suspend. Good effort though.

Great Masters in Short Form: An unusual take on the short-film anthology, gathering a set of short films based on great works of SF. All were good, but the standouts were "Impossible Dreams" (an Israeli comedy), "The Other Celia" (a masterpiece of non-explanation) and "A Piece of Wood" (about whether war is inevitable).

Other Short Films: As always something of a mix. Standouts include this year's short film competition winner, "Believe the Dance" ( seriously, you need to see this),  "Lucky Day Forever" (a Polish animation about predatory capitalism), Error 0036 (a satire on the annoying nature of helpdesks), Decapoda Shock (about a mutant man-lobster who... a postmodern satire on... um... OK, just see it), "This is Not Real" (about children and their imaginations) and "How to Kill Your Clone" (Mad Men meets the Tyrell Corporation). The winner of the 48-hour film challenge, "Future, Inc.," also deserves a mention for being hilariously twisted.

Movie count for 2012: 37

Thursday, May 10, 2012

New short story in BFS Journal

Quick note: the British Fantasy Society Journal for this quarter has a short story by me entitled "The Kindly Race." Interested? Check it out here: