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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Dan Marcus & Sci-Fi "Streamline" Ask Big Questions In Polished Short!

"STREAMLINE" (2014)
Genre: Sci-Fi
Length- 12:57
Company: Falling Awake Productions / 10 Brook Entertainment
Website: Official

Max Sylow (Joel Rietsma)  is running for his life from sinister looking men in gray suits.  What do they want with Max?  Where does Max think he's going?

And most importantly, why is it that at every turn, Max literally sees his life flash before his eyes?

TURNING INWARD

"Streamline" is the latest short film from Dan Marcus and his Falling Awake Productions.  The film premiered in Chicago this past July along with Tom Doherty's "The White Room" (reviewed here).  I bring up the connection because the two shorts are notable for their conflict being largely internal and covering frank emotional ground -- Doherty's vision is fantasy, whereas Marcus is clearly mining sci-fi territory.

The plot is very sparse and the action nonlinear.  The majority of the film is spent jumping back and forth in time, as poor Max revisits the moment when his life went horribly askew: his mother's death in a car accident, and his emotionally troubled father (Bruce Edwin Moore)'s breakdown after the fact. 

We watch flashbacks with young Max (played by Jaiden Hidalgo) and his father, and the terrifying events that unfolded as a result.  "Steamline" goes on to ask why we have to remember the negative events in life -- why can't we just choose to forget things we'd rather not know?  These are big questions for any film, much less a twelve minute short.


MEMORIES . . .

On the technical side of things, the film is shot professionally and its outdoor scenery becomes truly breathtaking.  John S. Terendy, the director of photography, outdid himself on this picture, with even the more hard sci-fi moments aesthetically pleasing.  Dan Marcus' direction is steady and mature.  His scenes are tight and clearly composed. 

That being said, no film is perfect, and "Streamline" is no exception to that rule.  Rietsma and Moore have no chemistry together and I didn't buy them being a father and son -- I didn't feel that kind of dynamic from their performances.  Their dialogue was not realistic and felt a little too on-the-nose and melodramatic.  Hidalgo's cries for help are quiet and reserved, not at all appropriate to what is happening to him.  Finally, the film itself just sort of ends, with the finale not at all approaching the excitement and energy of the preceding ten minutes.

That being said, there's a lot to like about "Streamline" and Marcus and company are talented filmmakers with a unique vision.  In twelve minutes, they manage to give you more to chew on than most films can with two whole hours.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 3.5 / 5.  "Streamline" was written by Dan Marcus, David Hammond and William Coffey, and it's an effective and emotional screenplay about surprisingly weighty issues.  That being said, the dialogue scenes between Max and his father were slight missteps, but it's a fairly small complaint.
Directing: 4 / 5.  Marcus does a great job of telling the story visually, and even the down moments feature memorable images -- loved the kinetic energy of the forest scenes and the bleak "in the car" shots later on.
Editing: 4 / 5.  Editing duties were capably handled by Danielle Montana.  The film moves at a quick pace and never really lets up.  Also, I loved the color grading and the slightly gritty look.  "Streamline" is quite cinematic in its appearance.
Sound/Music: 4 / 5.  Teddy Blass put together a really nice score for this short film and it does what any good score does: it emphasizes the action onscreen without making its presence known.  But go back and watch "Streamline" again, and just listen to the music.  Really well done.
Acting: 3 / 5.  Overall, I liked Rietmsa in his role and Moore does a good job too, but when they're together, there is no father/son chemistry and the scenes fall apart.  Cheryl Graeff does OK as the doctor.

Final Grade: 3.7 / 5.

Don't miss "Streamline" and keep up with writer/director Dan Marcus on Facebook!  Keep an eye on his next project, a UFO thriller set to be shot in New Mexico: "Beyond the Window"!



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!