Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Silver Screen

Never mind that I didn’t make it onto Joey’s Expat TV show, I’m a movie star now.

Those of you with long memories may recall that I spent a few days playing an extra in the movie, A Dark Reflection some time ago.  Well, the movie is out now, and my wife and I went to see it last night.

The movie is a miracle, a heart-breaking miracle.

The director, Tristan Loraine, was an airline pilot. He can no longer fly due to heath issues brought on by the toxic air in plane cabins. So he, and some like-minded comrades, went on a crusade to make the airline industry clean up their act. They tried official channels but were continually stonewalled by the industry and the government. Stymied and ultimately thwarted by standard business practices, they withdrew.

Standard business practice.
The fact is, it’s cheaper to pay bribes and settle wrongful death suits than to fix the problem, so the problem remains and the company is happy and the shareholders are happy and, well, some people are very unhappy but you can’t have everything. However, if enough people become aware of the issue, then the economics of the situation change and it becomes in the best interest of the company to act.

And so, having failed to make the government or the industry listen, Tristan re-trained as a movie director in order to make a movie—a thriller that would educate as well as entertain—in order to get enough people excited about what the airline industry is doing to force them to do something about it.

If that is not impressive enough, he did it on an impossibly slender shoestring, soliciting funding, cast, crew, helpers, gofers and extras along the way. And the final product, incredibly, is handsomely finished. It has the look of a big-budget film, with some good acting and stunning scenery. It is truly a magnificent and miraculous achievement, worthy of much praise.

But then, the heartbreak: having triumphed over impossible odds and having created a fine product, they forgot to include a story.

It was billed as a thriller. Thrillers are supposed to thrill. The clue is in the name.

At no time was anyone in any real danger, despite a number of scenes where the music climbed to an eerie crescendo while the heroine walked through deserted parking garages looking furtively over her shoulder expecting something to happen that never did.

To be fair, the company was dogging her, but as far as I know, being stonewalled—while certainly annoying—is rarely fatal

Even the climax, where the good executive—who thinks there might be a problem—bushwhacks the bad company owner—who honestly believes there is nothing wrong; he’s not really a bad guy, he’s just an unbeliever—by announcing, at a conference, that they are going to install filters to fix the perceived problem. When the owner and the executive meet shortly after he grabs the executive by the throat and slams him up against the wall, demanding to know what the fuck he thinks he’s doing. The executive throws him back onto a table and bangs two newspaper mock-up next to him: one says “Airline Murders Babies” and the other “Airline Paves the Way to Safer Air Travel” and tells the owner to pick one, leaving him to grapple with concern for profits over the safety of his customers and staff.

No, actually, that’s what should have happened. What did happen was the owner asked what was up and the executive lays the newspaper mock ups down for the camera to pan barely long enough for me to read them and they agree to do what is right. It was all very civilized, and so boring I wasn’t even aware it was the climax until the movie limped to an end shortly after.

The best part of the movie was spotting the locations and, of course, my face up on the screen. Most of my scenes were cut but I was right up front during the conference scene and I got more than my share of screen time.
Yup, that's me in the red tie, but where did all that gray hair come from?!?
At one point, the camera cuts inexplicably to me and, for about a second and a half, my profile is the only thing the audience can see. It was delightfully weird, but I think only my wife and I got to enjoy it.
This is a mock-up but, seriously, it is no exaggeration. If anything, the shot was even tighter.
They came achingly close to making a good movie, but they fell victim to their zealotry and decided to beat their drum to the exclusion of telling a compelling story. And that’s a shame.
Another might-have-been-exciting scene where nothing actually happens.