Searlo

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TBALC Producer 13 years running.

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Member for
7 years 5 months

This is an utterly delightful film that clearly deserved to win a highly polished Christchurch final.

Written in the form of a Russian Children’s morality play, Utka tells the story of a young duck (Utka), who effectively makes a pact with the devil and gets (regretfully) exactly what he wanted. This is dark - it won’t be picked up by Disney anytime soon, and is more a pre-Brothers Grimm fairy tale than anything you read as a kid.

Great choice to set the play in Russia, as while dark, Utka has a very dark humour running through it. Johnny Hall’s slightly dodgy Russian accent provides the ominous narration, while Andrew Todd’s joyfully child-like animation (I mean that as a compliment) gives the film a delightful tension. I have no idea how the animation was completed, but apparently Crayola Crayons stalk Andrews dreams - and I presume his fingers still smell like a kindergarten.

If I’m coming across as a fan-boy, well... I am. This is the type of film that gets me very excited. I’ve followed Andrew and Johnny’s filmmaking adventures for the past 11 or 12 years (check out their feature film ‘Ghost Shark 2: Urban Jaws’ you guys) - but this is my favourite of either of their back catalogues. Its a simple, brutal, dark, and surprisingly touching film. They’ve matured as filmmakers, and the final line of the film indicates that they’ve seen some things - and come through the other side as better storytellers.

Seven Stalinesque purges out of seven for me.

This is a really interesting film, and I'm not entirely sure how to structure my review, so bear with me. This review presupposes you've seen the film, so if you haven't (and you really should) - go and do that before reading the reviews!

Strang Entertainment is one of my favourite teams in the competition. Their understanding of cinematography and sound design are fantastic. When that pairs up well with story magic happens. True and The Intervention are all time classics. And I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that of all the regular teams, Strang has the best chance of breaking Christchurch's Grand National Winner hoodoo. Just not with this film.

The principal problem with the film is the lack of relateability with the protagonist (victim). Other than his seeming lack of ability to operate his jacket he doesn't have any relateable characteristics (goddamn zips). Does he have a family? Is he going to a job interview? Is he being kidnapped and tortured because he's a) available, b) forgettable, or c) a paedophile (for example)? Not knowing the background of the victim, or the motivation of the torturers is frustrating. Indeed, the most exciting shot in the entire film - the one that really drew me in - was the final one. I wish that had been the start of the film, because suddenly there was a very interesting couple of characters in a very unusual setting. I want to see that story.

As always, Strang Entertainment pushes boundaries. In this case it was confronting. Who is the monster? The victim? The torturer? Those of us who looked away? Or those of us who watched? I really dig that. 48Hours should embrace the drama, the horror, and the suspence as well as the comedy. Ultimately I think the team's desire to keep the audience guessing and wanting to know more more backfired.

I'm gutted it missed the finals. I think it would have been a worth addition given it's challenging nature. As always the cinematography, art design, sound design, and acting performances were on point. If there was an award for the sexiest shot, then the final one would be a shoo-in.

4 out of 7 phenomenal gimp masks for me.

I'm a pretty big Submission Impossible fan, and Polaroid is one of my all time favourite 48Hour films. Revisiting it could have been seen as a pretty risky option due to the serious, emotional nature of the film (although it'd have been difficult to do a sequel to Home!). I think they pulled it off beautifully.

Doing a sequel in 5 minutes is difficult. I think Polaroid 2 manages to straddle the line between explaining what happened in the first film, and having a self contained film that stood on it's own two legs.

This film hit me right in the feels in a way that none of the other (excellent, beautiful) Christchurch City Finalists did. This is one of Submission Impossible's talents - possibly due to being a little bit older than a lot of other contestants - they've got an emotional range that can sweep from whimsy to tragedy and loss believably. Beautifully acted as always - and a special shout out to the young actress who played Harper. 5 years old(?) and holding her own with Michal and Clayton! The script was clever - naturally picking up on the consequences of the original, and closing the loop in an effective and satisfying manner that resolved both films. And the score was typically excellent.

My favourite ULTRA finalist from Christchurch, and a worthy contender for the inaugural ULTRA National award.