Tuesday, March 19, 2013

MAD, Day V: Love (2011)

There is a notorious story about the late Howard Hughes, and how he shut himself in a studio for 4 months, letting no one else in, and all the whole doing silly things like peeing in jars and refusing to shave or put pants on. This event was sort-of-famously depicted in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator

Imagine that scene, but 119 minutes long. I am almost positive it is very similar to the experience of watching Love.
A number of ambitious films out there that focus on the sanity of man when they are isolated from all human contact for a long period of time. These scripts not only test the protagonist's sanity, but the audience's as well. It is a huge risk to make a film that stars, literally, one person for a majority of the screen time, because it is asking the audience to accept the many limitations that come along with it. There are so many different factors and obstacles that are needed to work perfectly just to make the film at all interesting.

When Tom Hanks was stranded on an island in Cast Away, there is absolutely no musical score. To add to the feeling of solitude,  all we hear are waves crashing and Tom Hanks having conversations with a volleyball. But somehow, the movie works.

Buried is another film that successfully pulls this off – it takes place in one location for the entire duration of the film (inside a coffin, no less), officially 1-upping every "bottle episode" ever made on television, forever. Obviously, a concept like this requires heavily on convincing acting and direction to be at all enjoyable (it is). 

Unfortunately, the film is not at all like Cast Away or Buried, nor does it aspire to be. Instead, it emits heavy influence from Stanley Kubrick's 2001: Space Odyssey and Duncan Jones' Moon, with a dash of some "deep", Terrance Malick-style narration during some trippy sequences than can only be pleasurable while on hallucinative drugs. 

Love was directed by William Eubank and, for some reason, produced by Tom Delonge. If you are under the age of 30, then you might know Delonge as the frontman of blink-182 and Angels & Airwaves. The film opens in the middle of a bloody battle during the Civil War, and we are introduced to Lee Briggs, the only Union soldier to make it out alive. We suddenly jump nearly two centuries ahead to an astronaut also named Lee (Gunner Wright) in space, doing space stuff. His contact with Earth is mysteriously cut off, and we get the pleasure of watching him go bat-shit crazy. Only, it isn't the interesting, Jack Torrance-kind-of-crazy. Just a dude that's really, really, really bored on a spaceship.  Instead of anticipating when he finally snaps and starts  defecating in jars, we are just bored with him (he did stop shaving, though).

For a movie with such little dialogue, the words that actually make the cut are incredibly weak: "If you guys are doing some kind of isolation test, or stress experiments, well then you can stop now because...because I'm very isolated and very stressed!" Way to stick it to the man, Lee.
He eventually finds a journal written by Briggs, whose words inspired him so much that he finally decides to "abandon his post", and head back to Earth. He also shaves.

During the last act, when he finally returns to Earth (or wherever he is), the influence from Space Odyssey is too difficult to ignore. In other words, we watch an astronaut in a full spacesuit who's totally not  in space, but is instead wandering around an uninhabited Earth, like some acid trip from hell. "Look at the silly astronaut sitting at a bus stop!"All hope here to connect with the film is entirely lost.

Aside from some cool looking Civil War set pieces, that's honestly it. Eubank tries hard to express the importance of human connection, but is sadly ironic because he fails miserably at doing just that with Love.

If you still wanna give it a shot, you can watch it now on NETFLIX.