Alright, so, I’ve been thinking about the format of this film-analysis thing that I’ve been doing the past few weeks, and a fundamental problem has popped up: many of you haven’t seen the films that I’m analyzing. And then I go and spoil the whole thing for those of you that chose to read and support the site, anyway. So! In an effort to avoid this, I’ll be doing something slightly different, and if you’re willing to play along, it could prove to be an entertaining experience for all involved!
Basically, if I’m doing a film analysis, I’ll make a post on Monday morning teasing the movie (unless I’m doing an article analysis or cinematic technique analysis or something– no teasers needed for that because spoilers aren’t really a thing for intellectual thought) and I won’t post my analysis of the film until the following Sunday evening/ afternoon.
This gives you a whole week to watch the film first (I’ll provide links when I can to speed up the acquisition process) and I’m going to be opening up the comments section of the site (bet you didn’t even know we had one of those, eh?) for the blog posts so that you can write in a discussion, if you want! I’m hoping that it will provide a little more of a community-input-is-heard aspect to the blog, and it’ll give you the opportunity to recommend what film is being done next, too, if you have a particular favorite that you would like me to pick apart.
In any case, this week’s film is going to be Space Station 76! You can grab it on iTunes or Amazon as an HD digital download, or if you’re crafty (and I obviously wouldn’t recommend this, given the illegal nature of file sharing) it’s rumored that it’s currently one of the top films being shared on The Pirate Bay.
Space Station 76 (2014) is an interesting twist on the sci-fi genre in that it is set in a distant future where mankind has created extraterrestrial habitats to deal with overpopulation… but the film is shown as if it were created in the 1970s. With wood paneled living rooms, Kubric-esque white walls, and space ships that more closely resemble the family RV than anything else, the screen adaptation of the stageplay is director Jack Plotnick’s first feature, and it’s a complete bombshell.
Released this month on DVD and digital download, the film exists as something slightly different than your average sci-fi; sometimes it feels like it’s trying to be a comedy, but the quandaries experienced by it’s characters often keeps it firmly rooted in the realm of drama, which is fine by me because the cast was stunning. Many of the actors clearly find their comfort on the stage in character dramas (which this most certainly is), but with cast members like Liv Tyler and Matt Bomer (who some of you may recognize from USA’s White Collar) the film adaptation doesn’t feel out of place at all. It’s a room-based script, and never leaves the space station, so it’s easy to see how it could have been done on a stage, but the phenomenal acting, the attention to detail with costume construction and set design, and the topics often discussed by the characters make it come off as a highly professional production, and it’s easy to see how Plotnick scored a distribution deal after debuting the film this March at Austin’s SXSW festival.
I don’t want to give too much away, story wise, but generally speaking, the film revolves around the secrets that are built and kept by it’s characters, and around the concept of community in general. Boasting what might be considered archetypes for mid-70s characters like a wife blitzed out of her mind on Valium, a male captain who has constant problems recognizing the value of his newly assigned (female) Lieutenant, and a little girl who struggles with the unfortunate reality of having a social life with no other children around, the piece is very tongue-in-cheek. It uses sometimes all too believable conceit that it was actually filmed in the 70s to hide behind while mocking the social “progress” that most of modern society thinks has been made in the last 40 years, and it’s absolutely hilarious (and often heartbreaking) while doing so.
The space built by the filmmakers, while first seeming enormous in scale, gets smaller and smaller as the character’s personalities get larger and larger. As the viewer is shown the darker secrets of their social lives, the once enormous space station begins to feel almost claustrophobic. You realize, eventually, that the story is bound together by the fact that, by and large, the station more resembles a social prison than a domestic space.
I would firmly recommend the film to anybody who is looking for a dynamic, witty, and touching social-commentary piece, particularly because of the spot-on acting, cinematography, and editing techniques used to bring the highly unique story to life in a way that won’t leave your jaw on the floor, but will keep you firmly glued to your seat for the duration.
So go give the film a watch, and we’ll come back this weekend and talk about it!
(Background Pic: Grand Canyon, 2012)