Wednesday, May 7, 2014

With Bobby Boermans' APP, movies keep up with -- maybe even ahead of -- the new technology

I hadn't heard of Dutch film-maker Bobby Boermans before viewing his new movie, APP. Post-viewing, I suspect his is a name we'll be hearing more of, particularly in the field of genre films, which is where APP resides. The movie is being billed (see poster, left) as "the first second screen film," whatever that means. If you don't know, either, I wouldn't worry. Non-techies like us can enjoy App as a rip-snorting adventure/ thriller because Mr. Boermans, shown below, is smart enough not to load us down with too much technology. He gets the basics right, and so we follow along, mostly mesmerized and keeping up with things about one step behind the movie-maker, which is more entertaining than (and infinitely preferable to) being one step ahead.

As most of us probably know by now, even if we have not installed one, an app is short for "application software" that is designed to run on mobile devices. That is what our titular app is doing, too, but it also seems to be able to manage other things -- like installing itself on the other mobiles, turning on cameras and various machinery, and doing all sorts of dastardly stuff that causes much havoc for our heroine and her friends.

The movie begins with a bang (and a splatter, which fortunately we don't have to view) and then introduces us to our heroine, Anna (a kick-ass Hannah Hoekstra, above), her best friend Sophie (Isis Cabolet, below, center right, with camera) and soon, a techo-wizard ex-boyfriend (Robert de Hoog) who seems to now want to get back into her life, and definitely into her pants.

Though the movie lasts only 75 minutes, the first few scenes are slow getting started. This is no problem, however, because the kids pictured are so full of life and intelligence and energy. We like them and want to see more of them. Once that nasty app is installed to begin its destruction, the movie and its frantic pacing never let up.

Ms Hoekstra, above, makes a smart -- and surprisingly strong and powerful -- heroine. She's a pleasure to watch in action, and her supporting cast is fine, too. There are a number of other men involved in smaller roles -- her younger brother, in recovery from a motocycle accident; her and Sophie's diving instructor (Mark van Eeuwen, below), the doctor in charge of bro's recovery, and Sophie's cute boyfriend. None of them register strongly, though each is just fine in his abbreviated role.

The classroom scenes are cleverly handled, as are the several naughty visual treats this app gets up to. The finale is quite exciting, though one might wish the movie had a different denouement. Most viewers will be able to predict this one in their sleep.

App, the second and much preferable movie from Ram Releasing the "genre" division of Film Movement, opens this Thursday in Bakersfield, California, and elsewhere beginning Friday, May 9. Here in NYC, it plays but one day -- Monday May 12 -- at the Village East Cinema. Los Angeles is luckier: It gets the film for three days, May 13-15, at the little Arena Cinema in Hollywood. You can find a list of all currently scheduled playdates by clicking here and then clicking on the word THEATERS.

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