2014 BAM Award Considerations – May

I decided that with the plethora of BAM Awards-related post towards the end of 2013 and the start of this year it was best to wait to the end of this month before officially recommencing the process.

I will post these lists towards the end of the month to allow for minimal updates. By creating a new post monthly, and creating massive combo files offline, it should make the process easier for me and more user-friendly for you, the esteemed reader. Enjoy.

Eligible Titles

The Jewish Cardinal
App
Moms’ Night Out
Barbosa: The Man Who Made Brasil Cry*
The Mysteries of the Rimet Trophy*
Fun in Boys Shorts
Maleficent
A Million Ways to Die in the West
Hide and Seek
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Chef
Neighbors
Ilo Ilo

*Only eligible for special and/certain awards

Best Picture

The Jewish Cardinal
Chef
Ilo Ilo

Best Foreign Film

App
The Jewish Cardinal
Hide and Seek
Ilo Ilo

Best Documentary

Barbosa: The Man Who Made Brazil Cry

Most Overlooked Film

As intimated in my Most Underrated announcement this year, I’ve decided to make a change here. Rather than get caught up in me vs. the world nonsense and what a film’s rating is on an aggregate site, the IMDb or anywhere else, I want to champion smaller, lesser-known films. In 2011 with the selection of Toast this move was really in the offing. The nominees from this past year echo that fact. So here, regardless of how well-received something is by those who’ve seen it, I’ll be championing indies and foreign films, and the occasional financial flop from a bigger entity.

The Jewish Cardinal
Hide and Seek
Chef

Best Director

The Jewish Cardinal
Chef
Ilo Ilo

Best Actress

Hannah Hoekstra App
Angelina Jolie Maleficent
Rose Byrne Neighbors
Angeli Bayani Ilo Ilo

Best Actor

Laurent Lucas The Jewish Cardinal
Heon-ju Son Hide and Seek
Jon Favreau Chef
Seth Rogen Neighbors

Best Supporting Actress

Audrey Dana The Jewish Cardinal
Elle Fanning Maleficent
Jung-Hee Moon Hide and Seek
Jennifer Lawrence X-Men: Days of Future Past
Sofia Vergara Chef
Yann Yann Yeo Ilo Ilo

Best Supporting Actor

Aurélien Recoing The Jewish Cardinal
James McAvoy X-Men: Days of Future Past
John Leguizamo Chef
Zac Efron Neighbors

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Tainwen Chen Ilo Ilo

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Elle Fanning Maleficent
Isabelle Molloy Maleficent
Kim Soo-Ahn Hide and Seek
Kim Ji-Young Hide and Seek

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

Michael Leone Moms’ Night Out
Michael Higgins Maleficent
Emjay Anthony Chef
Jung Joon-Won Hide and Seek

Best Cast

Hide and Seek
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Chef
Neighbors
Ilo Ilo

Best Youth Ensemble

Maleficent
Hide and Seek

Best Original Screenplay

The Jewish Cardinal
Maleficent
Hide and Seek
Chef
Neighbors

Best Adapted Screenplay

Maleficent
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Score

App
Maleficent
Hide and Seek
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Editing

App
Hide and Seek
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Chef

Best Sound Editing/Mixing

Maleficent
Hide and Seek
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Chef

Best Cinematography

The Jewish Cardinal
App
Hide and Seek

Best Art Direction

Maleficent
Hide and Seek
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Chef

Best Costume Design

Maleficent
A Million Ways to Die in the West
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Chef

Best Makeup

Maleficent
Hide and Seek
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Visual Effects

App
Maleficent
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best (Original) Song

Fun in Boys Shorts
Maleficent
A Million Ways to Die in the West

Second Screen Review: App

Since this is a very different kind of review I will offer some tidbits in the interest of full disclosure. I think it’s fairly safe to say that we all look at our phones too much and it’s part of why the film App is allowed a chance to succeed. I still have a bit of perspective since I find myself in the middle-ground between the technologically illiterate who just don’t get it and the kids growing up with computerized telephony as second nature. I still remember the randomness of sending my first text message and how I followed its evolution from novelty to near-necessity.

At the movies I do not silence my phone I TURN IT OFF. It’s not just out of respect but out of necessity. On rare occasion I felt compelled to silence only my restless shifting has inadvertently switched the ringer on. Thankfully it’s usually only been an email bing that alerted me to the fact. So a concept like App, a film with a second screen experience, is not something I’d disavow as a notion on principal, but it’s not something I’d personally engage in on first viewing.

This is a concept that’s not unheard of. Some television shows have used apps to offer additional second screen content as the show airs. Basically how these work is the app accesses your microphone to pick up where you are in the course of the show so it can synchronize pop-ups.

From a marketing perspective it’s great for branding of your film. It also, if you keep the app, creates a keepsake of the film for the viewer. Anyone who looks at my Instagram knows that’s something I’m fond of.

textshot

So with the basics and background out of the way how does Iris operate and interact with the film? You text the word “Iris” to 97000 on your Android or iPhone and receive a link to download the app. This also subscribes you to RAM Releasing’s text-blast list, which is smart of them and easy enough for you to opt out of.

A few tips that will make it better for you as a viewer:

First, if you turn off your ringer the phone will vibrate when there’s something to be seen on the second screen. This is helpful. It being a second viewing I spent too much time glancing at my phone when I didn’t have to. Also, activate the do not disturb function on your phone as push notifications from other iPhone apps will appear on your second screen if you don’t.

screenshot2

When you open the app you hit start when the film tells you to do so. If your microphone is obstructed start-up will take longer and you’ll see more scrolling code than needed. The app’s icon and the words “IRIS ACTIVATED” will appear when it’s working.

Also, if you have to take a bathroom break, either at home or at the theater, you can restart the app. It will say “Ah, so there you are…” when it’s synced and get you right back on track.

screenshot

What are the things you can hope to see, without putting too fine a point on it? There are alternate cuts of scenes. For example My favorite shot in the film was cut down for pacing reasons. With second screen you can watch that shot continue as the film goes through transitional shots. In essence, what this creates is a new-age split-screen. The important thing here is to reduced the level of gimmickry and make the technological component feel intrinsic to the story, which based on the synopsis of this film it does. It really was designed to include this element. If it does that and draws in more viewers it can’t be all that bad.

What you get in the approximately 35 instances when Iris warrants your attention during the film are only occasionally extraneous bits of information. There are purposeful filling in of chronological gaps, all interactions are tonally appropriate for the moment. One item even underscored what I perceived one subtext to be based on what was implied in the monologuing of the antagonist. It also provides nice moments where you’re in the action seeing the same thing on your phone the characters are, and it re-highlights certain facts.

App (2013, RAM Releasing)

I can go on a philosophical jag, asking “What is cinema?” as if I fancied myself to be Andre Bazin, but I won’t. It’s not a treatment that would fly at an Alamo Drafthouse. I do know that the cleverness of this film is that it connects the experience to the film. This film doesn’t concern itself with if the tide of cellphones in movie theaters can be stemmed. And the film also doesn’t concern itself with if second screen technology in cinema will be a blip or a trend. Whether 50 years from now this ends up being the beginning of a trend like the shift in aspect ratio or just a wise ploy of its time that can’t be replicated like those in William Castle’s repertoire remains to be seen. What I do know is that the app works really well and it would’ve been a seamless experience if I personally wasn’t in uncharted waters and distracted. Having the aforementioned guidance ahead of time would’ve made it quite perfect.

My rating scale isn’t calibrated for second screen. Take all my points into consideration, and more importantly, read what I said of the film before making your own decision about how and if to watch it.

Review- App

App is a Dutch horror film that is the first feature length motion picture to employ second screen technology – meaning additional content will play on a viewer’s phone. For more on that and how it plays with the film itself come back tomorrow where I will review that portion independently.

The merging of technology and horror in plot is not a new trope. However, it is always noteworthy. As technology evolves cinema will invariably comment and employ. Text bubbles appearing onscreen, as opposed to shooting the phone’s screen, is now commonplace in the language of film. So it was only a matter of time before horror went from voicemails and cellphones themselves to apps.

This is a story that clearly will take a supernatural slant as it concerns Anna (Hannah Hoekstra) who finds an app on her phone and doesn’t know where it came from and she can’t get rid of it. From that moment the stakes only increase as the A.I. continues to only get stronger and more omniscient.

One of the best aspects of the film is how it sets things up and then delivers pay-offs in unexpected ways. Characters both major and minor are introduced and the film spends a good portion of act doing that, but as it does its also foreshadowing and setting up incidents later on. In fact, there were a few set-ups that became apparent to me one my second viewing.

One of the things the film does struggle with a bit is a balancing act many films have to figure out, which is what to explain and what not to explain and when to disseminate said information. A lot of the answers are all provided at once in a monologuing-style stream such that its possible some information can be lost in hindsight.

Not that the film quite gets off the rails, but as things are speeding towards a conclusion it’s a bit of a slow-down in pace to get the answers. The film overall does not engage in much spoonfeeding such that one small ever-so-slightly incongruous section such as this one stands out even more. However, in dealing with it alone it does leave some things for you to ferret out and some stay mysteries.

One very pleasant aspect of the film is that the catalyst for the inciting incident is not a dumb/obvious mistake by the protagonist, but rather a an innocent and not very apparent one. There are based on incidents in the narrative requisite scenes that must be played out: namely those between Anna and Sophie (Isis Cabolet) when they’re fighting. These scenes are not belabored, well-handled and resolved with minimal dialogue.

As opposed to one of my favorite recent film discoveries Hellphone; App, while still having comedic moments, is playing it a bit more serious. To do that with a fairly outlandish plot requires a lot of finesse in the directing and scripting, but also from the cast. The standout being Hoekstra who effortlessly conveys and intelligent, tough, fun-loving character whose turn as horror heroine rivals that of Sharni Vinson in You’re Next, albeit in a far different subgenre.

App is a film that works quite well, whether you decide to engage in the wizardry of the second screen experience or not. Its an 80-minute tale that feels brisk and not truncated, that’s is great fun and even though all the kills and thrills aren’t jaw-dropping surprises they are well-executed and staged.

7/10