Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Why you should all watch Ink (2009)

Ink is a 2009 US Indie film written, directed, edited and composed by Jamin Winans (no, I hadn't heard of him either). It's tricky to sum up, but IMDb says:
As the light fades and the city goes to sleep, two forces emerge. They are invisible except for the power they exert over us in our sleep, battling for our souls through dreams. One force delivers hope and strength through good dreams; the other infuses the subconscious with desperation through nightmares. John (Chris Kelly) and Emma (Quinn Hunchar), Father and Daughter are wrenched into this fantastical dream world battle, forced to fight for John's soul and to save Emma from an eternal nightmare. Ink is a high-concept visual thriller that weaves seamlessly between the conscious and the subconscious. Ink has been hailed as the new "it" movie and compared to cult classics Brazil, Donnie Darko, The Matrix, Dark City and Pan's Labyrinth.
Here's the trailer:

Looks good, right? So while I was really looking forward to it, I was also worried - the new Matrix? Really?! I was half-expecting one of those poorly-produced rip-off movies with no heart ,and style over substance. I was wrong.

Ink is probably one of the smartest films I've ever seen. Rather than being completely detached from itself, like No Country For Old Men (I liked that film, but the ending was just too anti-climax for my tastes), Ink cleverly straddles the line between realism and fantasy. No answers are given to you (as would probably be the case in a Hollywood-ized version) and you're made to work your arse off to keep up. You're constantly trying to work out the motivations of three characters (including the character Ink from the title).

There's definitely a low-budget feel to the film and some of the acting is a little hit-and-miss. But not only is it visually stunning (pay very close attention to some clever editing), with awesome special effects, the film tells a gripping plot with compelling characters. Forget the dream-warriors and scary monster people - at the heart of Ink is a story about a man who has become detached from his daughter.

So that's substance taken care of. And then comes the style (which is why most people are going to watch this film, let's be honest!). There's a bit of a Harry Potter feel to opening - ordinary world being invaded by the unusual, with dream-weavers appearing from nowhere in the middle of suburban streets. Then there's a stunning action sequence that makes sure you don't even think about turning off.
If you're so inclined, you might like to write an essay on it - I'd recommend an existentialist reading of the film (just to be poncy!). Point of view is very important and one character says something along the lines of "it's all about how we perceive ourselves." Exactly right in this film. Time is also a factor - what happens when etc. Indeed, does it happen at all? And while you're at it, might as well throw in a free will vs. determinism debate too.

There's loads to talk about, so if you like analysing films, it's for you. But despite its various levels, Ink never preaches to the audience. It says "here's a idea....a question....we're not saying what the answer is, but we invite you to take a stab at it."
I don't describe many films as beautiful (to name a few - A Beautiful Mind, 2001, Blade Runner) But this one is, both visually and in its story. It's not for everyone, but I think you should all go off and watch it. It's a great example of what Indie film makers can do on a limited budget with just a strong story. Also make sure you check out the DVD commentary.

So if you give it a whirl, let me know what you think. Even if you hate it. Even if you think it's more brainless than Michael Bay's Recycle Bin and less entertaining than The Phantom Menace.

Stay shiny!

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