Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival 2015 Day #04: Boy 7

It's been a bit over a month, and we've had warm enough temperatures to see some melting over the part few days, so if anybody reading this has forgotten how much February sucked weather-wise, let me remind you: It was terrible, and it brought the MBTA to its knees. Mondays tended to be the worst, and in this case, after working from home, the sensible decision would have been to skip a night or two of the festival, especially since the subway was going to shut down while I was in the theater, making the trip home more difficult.

But I paid money for this festival pass, and it was unlikely that this screening would be made up at any time I could see it (the original plan actually turned out to be that it would, but I'll get to that mess). So I took the Red Line to Davis Square, bought some snacks to make opening a little more worth the Somerville Theatre's effort, and sat down.

The movie began several minutes early. There were no subtitles, a problem, as it is from The Netherlands and Nederlander doesn't overlap much with English at all.

Realizing it had started too early, the guys at the theater stopped it, two more folks arrived, and then it started again on time. Still no subtitles. At that point, I admit, we engaged in some of the behavior I would normally castigate others for in just about any other situation: We talked, sometimes making jokes and sometimes just confirming that what we thought was going on was really going on (the jokes kind of help with that, maybe as a way of confirming that we were following the action without it becoming a conversation that really pulls our attention from the action and subtitles). We pulled out phones and tablets, downloaded the proper language sets for Google Translate, and pointed the microphones at the screen, but to no avail. Either the lousy reception in the underground theater - my old phone did better connecting to a weak Comcast WiFi signal than Verizon 4G there, and the situation is not much different with the new one - or the likely case that the phone is built to pick up sound from inches away rather than even the loudest background noise kept that plan from working.

The next night, we would learn that Garen had intended to play it in the Marathon - I'm not sure whether that plan came before or after realizing that the snow would keep all but the stupidest of us away from what he was billing as a world premiere - but having a DCP with no subs apparently scorched that plan. That's too bad; it's a slick, decent little movie that will probably make no sort of impression on America at all, and what's a film festival for if not to give people a chance to see something good that the regular schedules won't play?

Eventually, it ended, we had a laugh about the weird experience, and headed home. For me, that initially meant heading across the street to catch the 91 bus back to Harvard Square, which is a relatively short walk from my house, but it never showed, just disappearing from the bus tracking app on my phone after being marked as arriving in two minutes for a solid quarter-hour. So I walked home. Not as hard as you would think - the snow want coming down very hard by that point, the wind was mild, and both Somerville and Cambridge are pretty good about cleaning off sidewalks. I still wouldn't recommend it to anyone, though, and it's probably more effort than this movie (in this form) and event deserves. Of course, in a few months/years, this will just be an anecdote I tell to people who don't realize how good they have it when attending a film festival.

Boy 7

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 9 February 2015 in Somerville Theatre #2 (SF/40, DCP)

It's probably best to disclose this up front rather than as a "hey, guess what?" thing at the end: Through some sort of series of miscommunications and other slip-ups, Boy 7 was shown without subtitles, and rescheduling was more or less impossible what with the blizzards that hit New England that month. Given the choice of seeing it that way and not seeing it all after dragging myself out in the snow, I bought some popcorn and settled in. Please keep the fact that I don't speak Dutch in mind if you continue reading, perhaps pondering the question of whether the fact that I feel confident enough to write the review owes to director Lourens Blok doing a fine job of communicating through action and visuals or the story itself just being predictable enough that you don't need to hear the words.

It starts, more or less, with a young man (Matthijs van de Sande Bakhuyzen) regaining consciousness on the Subway just before all hell breaks loose. His memory lost, he escapes with Lara (Ella-June Henrard), a girl who possesses the same extraordinary urban combat skills he does and tells him that his name is Sam. Between what she tells him and a journal he apparently handed off for safekeeping, he discovers that they were juvenile offenders with high-level skills (he was a hacker) trained to be super-agents, although Sam, Lara, and Sam's roommate Louis (Yannick Jozefzoon) smelled a rat and attempted to plot an escape.

This all comes in flashbacks that I presume are triggered by Sam reading his diary, although it's a bit of a toss-up as to whether those memories returning in such clear, linear fashion or the diary being phenomenally detailed is more unlikely. It's not actually a bad storytelling device, but it creaks at times - there is certainly more than one moment when Dam seems to be writing in the notebook because he expects to lose his memory at some point in the near future. Given the apparent brainwashing going on, it's not a totally unreasonable idea, although one would think he'd highlight certain things. To be fair, they are things that the perfectly obvious to the audience well before Sam catches on. Maybe he just had a higher expectation of his own intelligence than screenwriters Marco van Geffen and Philip del Maar (working from a novel by Mirjam Mous) did.

Full review at EFC.

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