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Saturday, 29 November 2014

Selected - A Sci-Fi Neo-Noir mystery.


Details

Directing: Brennan Karem,

Produced by: Threshhold Films with Renes Rivera

Writing: Brennan Karem, Zach Karem,

Actors: Tim Abell, Zach Karem, Ron Millkie, Evgeniya Orudzheva, Renes Rivera

Country: USA

Language: English

Length: 39 Mins

I have to admit straight away that I have a problem with Zach Karem, I'm sorry Zach, but it really has to be said before I go any further. Apart from being a writer, producer and lead actor in this Sci-Fi short, he is also far too good looking In my opinion. Now some people may think that I'm being more than a little bit unfair and possibly a smidgeon more than a little jealous in that I'm simply letting my own petty insecurities and personal failings once again get the better of me. Well nothing of the sort.........maybe.

The thing is, I know for a fact that Selected was completely written, produced and edited by Zach and his brother, Brennan. Oh, and before I forget, they also produced the whole of the impressive VFX for the film. If you ask me there is far too much drive and talent there between them for any normal person. After all, my so-called talents amount to nothing more than scribbling a few pseudo-intelligent and half-amusing ramblings here on this blog and also in getting my dog to sit to my command - and quite frankly, the part regarding getting my dog to behave is not going particularly well, if the deposit left by the back door this morning is anything to go by. When you add to the recipe the good looks (of Zach, not me or my dog) then it could well be that I'm simply resorting to petty jealousy.

I admit it, I'm shallow, superficial and envious of talented people. 

So, Zach mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the film had been completed and was in fact nearing its world premiere at the Helen Mills theatre (that's in New York City, for those not in the know) and wondered if I'd be interested in watching an online link to Selected. I decided that it was right and proper to put my petty jealousies and insecurities aside for once and grab the coat-tails of some genuinely creative people and have a looksee at what Mr and Mr Karem have created.

Before I go any further, let me pass on to you a brief synopsis of the plot........

" New York city has been crime free of the past year thanks to an experimental crime deterrant system called ‘Selected’. The all-encompassing system has discouraged all crime as it tracks and literally freezes criminals the moment they break the law. Now Orion Tallis, a former NYPD police officer has become one of the detectives working for the ‘Selected’ system a year after his mother, who created and was the architect of the system, died in a car accident and is convinced that she was the last person to be murdered in New York City. In the process he finds out she developed a fail-safe chip to remove people from the ‘Selected’ grid. Now Orion is in a race against time to find out who killed his mother and what happened to her work……"

This is in no way meant as a form of negative criticism, but it's safe to say that Selected has a number of familiar themes and elements, particularly to those of us who love and revere the work of Phillip K. Dick. There are distinct echoes of Blade Runner (Do Androids dream of electric sheep?) and Minority Report, in the philosophical themes, the social commentary and the narrative of this story. If you add to that a flavour or two of classic neo-noir crime mystery (complete with a drop-dead gorgeous femme fatale) then you should catch the overall feel of the approach of the film.  

However, as I've previously mentioned, the obvious influences should not be seen as a criticism. On the contrary, the makers of Selected quite obviously have a genuine respect for the film's subject matter as the plot tracks the lives of a number of different characters as they cope with this new, all-encompassing security system that strives to completely eradicate murder from the human experience. What the result is an authentic appreciation, possibly even a homage, to familiar genre themes that also come complete with plenty of political corruption, murder and sex - and believe me, those are things one can never have too much of! Though I couldn't possible repeat those comments in a court of law.....again.

The acting throughout Selected is generally of good quality, with the seminal Ron Millkie producing a genuinely excellent turn as the not-to-be-trusted commissioner. Ron will will be familiar to horror fans from his memorable role as Officer Dorf in the original version of the horror classic, Friday the 13th (1980). The femme fatale role of Maya is played by Evgeniya Orudzheva. Now, I was wondering just what I could say about Evgeniya without incurring the legal wrath and threat of yet another restraining order. All I will politely say that her performance is excellent and convincing in its portrayal.........besides which, she is completely delicious (see, I couldn't help myself). The character of Maya reminded me a little of Sean Young's classic portrayal of Rachael in Blade Runner - which once again is no criticism at all, as she is quite simply a delightful counter to the character of Orion (played by the annoyingly talented Zach Karem). I don't want to overly inflate Zach's ego, but I must say that he has a nice range of well delivered one-liners in the story and his Sam Spade-esque voice-over is nicely done.

I'm assuming that the budget of Selected, like many first time Indie ventures, is not a particularly major one. The overall look of the film completely belies the probable budgetary restrictions, because visually it is simply lovely. The direction, editing and lighting have been thoughtfully combined not only to show off New York in all it's recognisable fineness, but to fully compliment the darker and edgier scenes that take place throughout. Add to that a number of impressive and convincing FX scenes and you have a veritable visual treat. 

It would be remiss of me not to mention that while Selected has a lot going for it, it isn't perfect. The ensemble cast, while mostly affective are let down by a couple of performances who seem to have erred down the side of over-egging their scenes. It would be grossly unfair of me to name the individuals due to the majority of the cast being very good. Indeed, this unevenness of performance isn't enough to let down the overall feel. In addition, at times the plot pacing becomes a little pedestrian with a couple of scenes that could probably have benefitted from 'tightening up'. However, these negatives are but minor.

There are some who may feel that the short running time and the nature of the ending the ending is less than satisfactory. However, Zach has advised me that the film should be viewed not as a stand alone piece but more along the lines of a TV pilot. He suggests that the universe in which the film takes place has a huge range of possibilities in what it has to offer. Their hope is they will be able to introduce a plethora of story-lines that in the future they want to pursue and broaden out.

And do you know what, dear reader? I have to agree with him. In 10 years time, when no doubt I'm still scribbling my self-indulgent musings here at my Mac, I sincerely hope and believe that I'll be looking back as the Selected being the first of a long and eventful journey in world where life is a right and murder is a privilege.


You can find the Facebook page for Selected RIGHT HERE

The Selected website, which has a whole heap of extra information about the film and its makers, can be found at http://www.theselecteduniverse.com




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