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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

"The Meltdown" Mockumentary Brings Brains, Where's the Movie?

"THE MELTDOWN: AN ORGASMIC VIEW TOWARDS THE END"
Length - 20:03
Company: Unknown
Website: Mini Box Office Cinema

I don't know what I expected when I pressed play on this film, but it certainly wasn't what I got: an existential and quite serious examination of two ideologies, the damning human drive between the two, and how India's commercial growth fits into the scheme of things.

Pretty heavy material for a short film, no doubt -- even one that is twenty minutes in length.  Add to that the fact that this is a foreign film (for me, anyway) and subtitled.  It was an official selection for the third Mini Box Office Cinema International Film Festival in 2012.

Let's take a deeper look, shall we?

CONCEPT VS. EXECUTION


The film opens with two "experts" -- or more likely actors pretending to be experts (Nilnanjan Nag and Abhirup Banik) -- discussing philosophy as it applies to India, and more than that, humanity as a whole.  This section is not portrayed as fiction, it's a mockumentary, and it's a framing device that continues throughout the film and provides commentary on the "story" at hand.

Avi and Pinaki (Aniket Bose and Dipayan Nandy) are two bored young men who are displeased with their lives in general.  They hang out in a bedroom and argue, laugh about old times, and argue some more.  When it comes to light that a neighbor (played by Sarbari Bose) had a husband who was killed by terrorists, the two concoct a ridiculous plan to take advantage of her post traumatic stress disorder.

What are they going to get out of it?  We are never told.  While the development of their plan is played out in a comic manner, it's far from funny.  Are they serious?  Were they going to rob her?  Were they going to at some point tell her that it was all staged?

All the while, the two experts continue talking about humanity, the history of alcohol and its ties to ancient religion, and finally whether or not the destructive impulse is a natural extension of being a man.

It's all very delirious and thoughtful, but does it come across in an entertaining way?

SAY WHAT?


I have to say that twenty minutes felt far too long for this film.  The experts talk far too long and the characters do far too little.  They literally sit and talk, sometimes drinking and sometimes not, for the bulk of the film.  There's some foreshadowing toward the beginning of the tragic final shots, featuring a bloody knife and Avi's horrified expression, but that's about it.

The concepts discussed by the experts are too big to be captured properly, and certainly beyond the scope of presenting in a visual sense. 

It felt, in a way, like watching those specially made educational short films in school.  The dramatized scenes felt overly fictional, and the experts drowned out any emotions we might have through their constant commentary.

CONCLUSION


Though extremely ambitious and weighted with serious purpose, this mockumentary gives a lot to think about.  Too much, in fact.  The actors do what they can, but the lack of a coherent story or effective illustrations of the points presented by the experts leaves the intellectual side a little cold.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 2 / 5.  The screenplay, by Aritra Goswami, presented very little story, and what plot we were given felt forced and didn't hold my interest. 
Directing: 2 / 5.  Aritra Goswami and Dipayan Nandy handled the direction.  They did what they could with the material, providing multiple angles and shots of Avi and Pinaki, but for the most part, they're sitting on a bed talking.  There's only so many ways to make that visually appealing.
Editing: 2 / 5.  This film dragged on far too long, in particular the segments with the experts.  Their comments needed to be clear and concise to be effective, but they weren't.
Sound / Music: 2 / 5.  The music did not match the gravity of the material we're working with.  It's dead serious, yet it's playful sounding rock music all the way through. 
Acting: 2.5 / 5.  The actors did all they could and sounded OK delivering their lines.  Sarbari Bose, as the grieving neighbor, is the only one who came off badly -- she basically stared at people the entire film, and that was that.  Aniket Bose and Dipayan Nandy were credible.  Nag and Banik looked and sounded like experts.

Final Grade: 2.2 / 5.  Goswami's subject matter was big, bold and gutsy to put on film, particularly in a short form, but the film forgets to be entertaining in the process.  I'd like to see something else he's cooked up, something a little smaller and more intimate.

Watch "The Meltdown: An Orgasmic View Towards the End" here, and check out Aritra Goswami's official Facebook page here, as well as the Mini Box Office Cinema website here!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!