May 7, 2013

Sci-Fi (ish) Flick Review: Way Down in Chinatown - 2013

Way Down in Chinatown
Director: Eric Michael Kockmer

To be honest with you I can’t really say what this flick is about. And I’ve seen it twice already! The main characters seem to be a play writer and his wife. At first they appear to be setting up a show but I don’t think they’ll ever get to it. The audition a bunch of people but that’s it! They get disturbed by something; I think it may be Armageddon actually. There are a lot of very odd characters but I don’t know what their purpose is or if they’re a metaphor for something. They seem to talk with each other as they were from another dimension or another world or something, I don’t know. They might as well be doomsday angels. Not that they look like angels though. Everything seems to spiral down into total decadence! I kind of reminds me of the feel in Dark City, strange characters running around with all the truths but hiding it from the masses!

The makeup is splendid! It looks just like it’s made as homage to the early German expressionism, i.e. Fritz Lang and Robert Weine. It’s not as stylish as Tim Burtons might have done it (nor as expensive) but the dark shadows under the eyes and so on are very entertaining for me! Then add the fact that it’s filmed in black and white and you realize of course that it’s a very artistic film after all. And as such the storyline might not be as important. I’m fully content with it being “weird”.

When I watched the opening credits there was one name that made me keeping attention. Most of the names are mere strangers to me but I know Lisa Loring! I mean, I don’t know her but I most certainly know who she is! I paid close attention to see if I could actually recognize little Wednesday Addams from the original Addams Family series. I mean, how old was she there? Five? I had to rewind the film and cheat a bit, luckily the credits roll in order of appearance, to recognize her but when I finally laid my eyes on her knowing it was her I could see some resemblance!

But once again, what is this movie about? Is it really about the end of the world? Could it be that this couple has marital problems? Are they dying? I really like the possibilities even if I can’t really figure them out!

So, we have the strangeness. We have fantastic makeup; together with the black and white that makes it a bit noir-ish. And we have… the acting! It may not be a realistic movie, far from it, but there’s a charisma among the actors that makes them interesting. Even the really small parts actually. For me it looks sort of like it was a theatre play and not a movie. I think this is quite deliberate as the main characters are in that business. I’m not totally overwhelmed by the editing but if the impression of a play, rather than film, is intended it’s very successful. Otherwise there’s too many fade outs for my liking. It has a bit too much scene for scene feeling to it and lacks the natural flow of a general movie.


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