Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Short Film Review - Spike Jonze's "I'm Here"

So, my first movie review here is going to be somewhat unconventional, as I am reviewing a short film rather than a feature, but it is very fitting for the particular film I am reviewing. The film is "I'm Here" and it is the new short film by director Spike Jonze. In the past we knew him as the skateboarding music video guy who directed the "Weapon Of Choice" video by Fatboy Slim with Christopher Walken. Back then we said this guy had a very bright future ahead of him and we were quite correct.

Spike has directed three films since his music video days, "Being John Malkovich", "Adaptation." and most recently, "Where The Wild Things Are" which was one of my favorite films of last year. Check out the trailer for "I'm Here" below before reading on.

Most short films these days are being released on the internet and this film is no different, except for the way it has been presented. Upon entering the film's website the viewer is presented with a movie theater box office simulation in which you must digitally walk up and get a ticket to enter the theater. There are limited screenings per day so only a couple thousand people will get to see the film per day (As of this writing the film has been available online for quite some time, so you are almost guaranteed to get a seat). The presentation of this menu was quite pleasing and felt like a well put together DVD menu instead of a website.

Once you have your ticket you are prompted to choose "Full Experience" or to just skip and go straight to the movie. I chose skip, but the full experience seems like a facebook connect application where you can hold a screening with friends over facebook, which seems neat, but I was eager to watch the film.

Spike has a wonderful way of connecting people emotionally to his films through the use of music. From the opening credits as we pass by what seems to be a normal American city, the tone of the music says different. It is somber and almost futuristic sounding alerting us that this is no ordinary town. In fact, it is an alternate reality where humans coexist with robots. Now you're thinking, "Oh, it's THAT kind of story. I've seen that movie before...", but this isn't your average I, Robot kind of movie.

What Spike is doing these days with mixing practical with CG effects is pretty amazing stuff. His work on "Where The Wild Things Are" has proven that we can do so and have it be close to 100% invisible to the human eye. His secret is that he captures the emotion in the eyes. Using a practical body for familiar human movement as we perceive it, He masks his non-human characters with computer generated eyes and mouths to give the characters complete emotional depth. This combination is practiced in "I'm Here" and he has proven himself a master filmmaker yet again. It is the best possible combination that even James Cameron fails to recognize (With 100% CGI characters like the ones in Avatar our mind is still distracted on the animation rather than paying attention to the characters themselves).

The story itself may be considered conventional if conventional characters were used, but these robots definitely enable the plot to thicken. It is a love story of sorts, boy meets girl, yadda yadda yadda. But the design of the characters, the atmosphere, the music, the cinematography (the Cinematographer of the film, Adam Kimmel, recently shot "Lars and the Real Girl" which is strikingly similar in both plot and overall look) makes it such a unique experience that everyone should see.

Click the link below to go to the digital theater lobby and see the film!

"I'm Here"
Dir: Spike Jonze
Rating: 10/1o WATCH IT NOW!

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