In Search of La Che (2011) / The Greyness of Autumn (2012)

In Search of La Che

Description (from the IMDb):
Like many who grew up in the 1980s, John Tavish enjoyed the music of rock legend Roxy La Che. After years transforming the face of music, Roxy was caught up in the lethal potassium drug craze that swept the nation for many years. Despite twice being admitted to rehab, Roxy never fully recovered and disappeared in 1994 without a trace. Now 15 years after his disappearance, John Tavish tries to solve the mystery of what happened to Roxy La Che.

Major Cast:
Duncan Airlie James as John Tavish, Paul Massie as Roxy La Che, Craig Walker as Blitzkrieg, Kyle Calderwood as Larry McShane, Neil Francis as Archie Munro, Dave Cullen-Willis as Gary Pringle

Special Features:
None (Screener)

Written by Mark D. Ferguson, Chris Quick, and Andy S. McEwan
Directed by Mark D. Ferguson

I am a big fan of mockumentaries. The works of Christopher Guest obviously come to mind when you mention this style of films, but there is also films like LOLLILOVE (old review here), Sacha Baron Cohen’s films, BRUTAL MASSACRE: A COMEDY, and more so now on TV with shows like THE OFFICE and PARKS AND RECREATION. The mockumentary is style that when done right can be completely hilarious if you know it’s a joke and completely deadpan if you are unaware. The best films in this style are just barely a comedy, and take themselves very seriously. Finding out that I’d get to review another one (it’s been a while), I was excited to check out IN SEARCH OF LA CHE.

ISoLC is a Scottish mockumentary based around one fan’s desire to find out what happened to his hero, Roxy La Che. La Che made two albums in the eighties, and for a very short time was one of the most popular musicians in the UK, and since then has pretty much completely disappeared from the public; he’s barely even able to be found on the internet (and you can find anything on the internet). After enough searching, Tavish finds an “official” Roxy fan page, and starts his journey in search of La Che.

Lights!  LIGHTS!!
Lights! LIGHTS!!

I have found that the most important part of selling a mockumentary is the actors. A lot of many films in this genre are improv; the script will be scenes and a plot, but often times do not have a lot of dialogue. By having your actors come up with the specific words on the spot, it gives a mockumentary a more “authentic” feel, and making it feel real is about the most important aspect of having a mockumentary succeed. With ISoLC, I am not sure how much was improv and how much was scripted… it felt a bit more scripted than I hoped. I could be wrong (obviously, I’ve not seen the script), but many of the performances felt very rehearsed, and not as free flowing and organic as I would expect if the actors improvised them. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that the actors did a bad job. James as Tavish is a good anchor for the film, and he dutifully portrays he fan that is just trying to find the answers to questions he’s had for years, and I completely believed his character. I also thought that Walker was extremely good as the neo-Nazi psycho Blitzkrieg, and Francis’ Munro was also a very personable and believable character. Some of the other characters were a bit tougher to get into; Pringle didn’t do much for me, he was neither good nor bad, but in this type of film you’ve really got to be good to sell the feeling. Calderwood’s McShane was just way too over-the-top; as I said before the best mockumentaries are just barely a comedy, and Larry was just way too silly, way too weird, and way too out there to be a believable person. I also could not figure out: was he supposed to be old, or just have an old-sounding voice? If he were supposed to be older, a little bit of makeup and grey hair would have gone a long way.

"Whippy" is just an example of how ISoLC gets a bit too over the top for me
“Whippy” is just an example of how ISoLC gets a bit too over the top for me

On the production side of ISoLC, I was pretty unimpressed. From the very beginning, the video quality was noticeably bad, to the point of having de-interlacing issues on a lot of the shots. I know not everyone can afford a HD camera, and that’s fine. As a matter of fact, there have been some movies I’ve enjoyed here lately actually shot on VHS cameras (see the films of Warlock Video) that are tons of fun to watch. But, no matter what the level of equipment you have access to, you need to use it right, and the interlaced video just really rubbed me wrong from the get go. To go along with this below-average picture, the lighting varied from not great to downright bad in parts. Some shots were ok, some were not, and some were just way too bright with way too dark shadows; when the lights are noticeable (unless we’re watching a giallo or similarly styled film) then they are not doing their job. These lights were not doing their job. The audio was luckily much better than the video, and overall was pretty decent; it’s not big-budget quality, but it was certainly passable and never had any issues to the point of being a problem.

A zoomed-in example of the interlacing issues
A zoomed-in example of the interlacing issues

Overall, I really enjoyed the plot of ISoLC, and I think it had some good ideas. However, as a mockumentary I think there was just too much random silliness for my tastes, there were too many odd bits, and it just didn’t quite hit the marks I am looking for in a movie of this genre. It was not a bad film; it just could have been a much better one.

Overall 5.5 / 10

ISoLC on the IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2016915/

ISoLC is not for sale, watch it on YouTube here: http://youtu.be/-6ARIuAMmOk

ISoLC site: http://www.insearchoflache.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/In-Search-Of-La-Che/104152532978695

In Search of La Che (2011)
In Search of La Che (2011)

 

The Greyness of Autumn

Description (from the IMDb):
The Greyness of Autumn follows the final days of the life of Danny McGuire, an ostrich living in Scotland. Danny’s life is suddenly turned upside down when he loses his job and his girlfriend in the same day.

Major Cast:
Duncan Airlie James as Danny McGuire, Chris Quick as Nelson, Amy E. Watson as Katie, Steven Patrick as Mr. Jenkins, Andrew O’Donnell as Jimmy Guinness, Neil Francis as Barry

Special Features:
None (Online Screener)

Written by Chris Quick and Andy S. McEwan
Directed by Chris Quick

For years I wanted to review a puppet film and I did not have that chance. Then I get two (almost) back to back (see my FALL TO GRACE review here)! Weird how that works. THE GREYNESS OF AUTUMN was a very strange puppet film indeed, and it goes places that I would not expect from the genre, which is always good for me.

When you think of puppet films, obviously the most famous is the Muppets, so you’ve got cute, family friendly adventure. There are also less on-the-beaten-path films like MEET THE FEEBLES that go the opposite route with puppets. No matter what comes to mind, usually if there are puppets, it is a comedy of some sort. TGoA takes this expectation and turns it on its head, by making a film about an ostrich that is having a horrible day, and throwing some heavy drama up the hand-hole of that puppet. I like that. I like when you turn conventions on their head, and TGoA did that really well.

An ostrich gets dumped.
An ostrich gets dumped.

The production quality of TGoA was leaps and bounds above ISoLC. The video is much, much better and much easier to enjoy, though there are still a few issues with focus. The lighting could still use a little work, but as a whole it is greatly improved over ISoLC. The sound in ISoLC was pretty good overall, and TGoA also has good sound to accompany the much better picture. There is also a bit better of a production design for this film than there was for the last, but that also probably comes from the fact that this film is only a few minutes long so there was not nearly as many locations and props and overall design elements to need to secure. One thing that stuck out to me and made me question: why the neo-Nazi stuff in this film too? There was Blitzkrieg’s whole shtick in the last film, and on this one you’ve got some SS looking pics stuck up on the bar… what’s up with that?

Drowning his birdie sorrows
Drowning his birdie sorrows

Overall, I found TGoA to be a much better film from Quick Off The Mark Productions than its predecessor was. This may be because it was much shorter and required less planning and execution, it may be because of a technical upgrade, or it might just be because I like puppet films and you’ve got to love a dark puppet film.

Overall 7 / 10

TGoA on the IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2566248/

TGoA is not for sale.

TGoA site: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Greyness-of-Autumn-Short-Film/111200625705895

The Greyness of Autumn (2012)
The Greyness of Autumn (2012)
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