I have 498 movies in my Netflix Instant queue. I tend to watch one thing for every five that I add, but now my library is close to being full and I have to make room. So, every Monday I’m going to pick a random movie out of my queue and review the shit out of it. But (like Jesus), I’m also thinking of you and your unwieldy queue and all the movies in it you want to watch but no longer have the time to now that you’ve become so awesome and popular. Let me know what has been gathering digital dust in your Netflix Instant library and I’ll watch that, too. One Monday for you and the next for me and so on. Let’s get to it.
What’s the movie? Ink (2009)
What’s it rated? Unrated for disturbing imagery, kung-fu shenanigans and some extraordinarily balanced weirdness.
Did people make it? Written and Directed by Jamin Winans. Acted by Chris Kelly, Quinn Hunchar, Jessica Duffy, Jeremy Make, Jennifer Batter, Shelby Malone and Eme Ikwuakor.
What’s it like in one sentence? A strange and beautiful trip through dreams, multiple levels of existence and the fragility of reality.
Why did you watch it? I meant to watch it last week, but I got sucked into The Woman instead. That came out wrong.
What’s it about in one paragraph? It takes place in a world where there are Storytellers, a group of benevolent nomads who give the people of the world good dreams, one person at a time. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Incubi, who are spirits fashioned from violent death that live off of the fear and torment of the living. Ink is a sad, dark and mysterious drifter spirit caught somewhere between the two. The film focuses on Ink taking a young girl he kidnapped to the Incubi (as a tribute) in order to become one of them. As the Storytellers attempt to rescue the girl from him and the Incubi await her young soul with mouth’s watering, Ink must look within himself to decide whether he’s the villain he thinks he is, or whether he’s the hero he could possibly become.
Play or remove from my queue? Play the holy hell out of this movie. None of this movie should have worked. It should have played as pretentious claptrap masquerading as a deep and meaningful exploration of humanity’s failings and, maybe to some, it will. But for me it worked like gangbusters from the opening shot to its closing credits. The film is not perfect by any means, but it’s pretty damn brilliant and fun and Writer\Director Jamin Winans displays such confidence in the story he’s telling that it was impossible for me not to be swept up in the rules and depth of his world. As soon as the film ended I wanted more adventures set in the universe Winans created and to spend more time with the wonderful characters that populated his story.
I don’t want to give any more of the plot away, but I will say that Ink has an ending I think I would have hated in any other movie, but here it worked perfectly and was simultaneously moving and exciting. The action sequences in the film are a ton of fun and manage to deepen the world instead of seeming like something perfunctorily thrown in because it’s cool or expected. When Ink fights a handful of Storytellers while he steals the little girl, it makes for one of the most original action sequences I’ve seen in awhile. The design of the Incubi (and Ink himself, for that matter) is chilling and not a moment of their screen time isn’t fascinating to watch. All of this, combined with a story that seems like should just work horribly, but instead seems like a breath of fresh air, makes Ink feel like that cult-classic dynamo that I’ve been searching for. I know I’m being scattered, but that’s how the film made me feel.
Like I said, this movie shouldn’t work. There’s some amateurish acting, a few unnecessary plot points that could have been left on the editing room floor and some over-explanation of the film’s ideas that might have worked better if left to our imagination, but none of it bogged the film down for me. I mean, there’s a blind character with X’s of electrical tape over his eyes that senses the rhythm of the world and can predict future events perfectly, but he’s clumsy and “eccentric”. In any other film I think I would have hated it, but in Ink it just adds to the scope of the world and gives me one more reason to love the film waaaay, waaaaaaay more than I probably should.
Do you have a favorite line? “Hello, dirt. How are you today?” made me smile. The character of Jacob was filled to the brim with wonderful lines (that again would have been horrible under anyone else’s guidance).
Do you have an interesting fun-fact? The film was shot for $250,000, which I can’t decide whether it seems high or low. There are some very impressive sets and special effects, although the film is shot with a soft focus that takes some getting used to. I think the film might have been even more impressive had they shot everything a little cleaner, but that’s just me.
What does Netflix say I’d like if I like this? The Man From Earth (looking forward to seeing this), Eden Log (shot with such poor light I gave up watching it after 15 minutes), Dreamscape (David. Patrick. Kelly.), Farscape (almost done with Season 1) and Metropia (sort of a good movie and the first DVD review I ever did for CHUD).
What does Jared say I’d like if I like this? Ink reminds me of a more focused Insidious mixed with the first Matrix with a light sprinkling of heroic fantasy for good measure.
What is Netflix’s best guess for Jared? 3.4
What is Jared’s best guess for Jared? 4.5
Can you link to the movie? Sure!
Any last thoughts? All of the user reviews on Netflix seem to be either 1 star or 5 stars, with nothing in between. I can definitely see this film not working for all of you and I can’t wait to get into why it does or doesn’t. This will be a divisive movie.
Did you watch anything else this week? Avengers!!!! Somehow it managed to live up to and then surpass the hype by miles.
Any spoilerish thoughts about last week’s film, The Woman? I might have been a little harder on the end of the film last week than I needed to be. Having thought about it for 7 days now, I can see that maybe it is thematically relevant, but I don’t know if I like how it was handled. I understand that The Woman was an animal mixed with a force of nature, and that as soon as the daughter let her pout of the basement she was going to do whatever pleased her, but I guess I wanted more than her chewing off May’s face, chopping the son in half with a piece of wood and pulling Chris’ heart out of his chest. Especially with Chris, who I found to be one of the most memorable villains in recent memory, I wanted something more than just a crappy gore effect of an idea that was a joke back when Temple of Doom did it. I wanted something that resonated and what I got was a brief bit of audience catharsis followed by the daughter deciding to follow The Woman off into the woods, a character choice I don’t thing was foreshadowed enough in her character. I get that maybe she wanted to protect her little sister, but she seemed more like a character that would go call the police instead. It’s a powerful film and it’s stuck with me these past few days more than I thought it would, but the film upto that point earned an ending more haunting and powerful than it delivered.
Next Week? Fish Story!