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Movie Natters: November 2, 2007 Archive

"Finishing the Game" seems unfinished

Posted at 10:40 AM on November 2, 2007 by Euan Kerr

"Finishing the Game" Justin Lin's martial arts mockumentary starts a game of 'what if,' blends it with some 'but in reality,' throws in some 70s fashions, and ends up with a handful of 'what is this?'

The premise is based on the true story of how when Bruce Lee died he left 12 minutes of what he considered his masterwork "Game of Death" in the can. A low budge movie company decides to use the footage as a basis for a movie. All they need to do is find a Bruce Lee lookalike to fill out the other 80 minutes or so of the film.

Lin uses the scenario to take a swing or twelve at Hollywood, including how it treats Asians. He connects a number of times, making fun of the terrible Bruce Lee knock-offs some studios produced, and how martial arts movies were just a dressed up tokenism in the film industry in the 70s.

Lin also does a great job of capturing the tenor of the times, with the bad hair and the worse fashions, and then tops it off with an incompetant film production team, including a director who thinks he's Bergman, but only got the job because his dad owns the company.

The bits are all kind of intriguing, but they don't make a full stew. I watched this with my beloved and she looked at me afterwards and she was genuinely confused as to what it was we had just seen. It was a pleasant way to spend 80 minutes, but it's no "Hollywood Shuffle."

Rosemount becomes Minnesota's film capitol (at least for a couple of weeks.)

Posted at 6:49 PM on November 2, 2007 by Euan Kerr

On the phone today Amy Thompson struggled to tell me about "Four Boxes." What made it hard was doing it without giving away the plot twists. Thomson is the production coordinator on the shoot. After some discussion we went with the description being used by the crew: "'Rear Window' for the internet age," a thriller with a bit of humor to it.

For the last two weeks the crew has been shooting in a house in Rosemount. The story follows a group of people who become intrigued by a web site called "Four Boxes TV." The site allows them to watch people in another house, from the vantage points of four hidden cameras. The people in the house apparently don't know they are live on the web. As time passes the watchers witness increasingly creepy things on the site, and their interest turns to obsession.

Thompson says the film builds on the great unknowns in the internet, like the physical location of the people you come across on the net.

"You assume the people you are communicating with are far, far, away," Thompson says. "But maybe they are not."

"Four Boxes" stars local lads Justin Kirk ("Weeds") and Sam Rosen, who have both left Minnesota to seek their fortunes, but are back enjoying the comforts of home for the film. The film is being shot on a tiny budget, and Thompson says a lot of local film people have been dropping by, and volunteering to help out.

"It feels like the whole production community in the Twin Cities has been involved," she laughs.

There have been a couple of challenges. First of all the weather. The script calls for dark overcast and brooding skies, so the recent clear spell hasn't helped.

The other challenge, Thompson says, is continuity, trying to match up the actions on the web cams with the action captured by the other cameras in the "web" house. It's apparently been pretty tricky.

The crew will shoot a lot of exterior and driving shots this weekend and then it's off to the editing room. Thompson says the plan is to get post-production finished by the spring, and then launch the film on a tour of the festival circuit. Thompson predicts that given the large number of people involved here, there are likely to be local screenings too.

Amy Thompson promises good plot twists, and what she calls "meaningful criticism abut our culture." But she can't say any more.

We'll just have to wait.

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