Friday, November 28, 2014

A don't-miss sci-fi goes straight to DVD/Digital; Antonio Tublén's amazing LFO: THE MOVIE

How's this for irony: One of the best sci-fi movies in recent years -- LFO: The Movie, by Swedish filmmaker Antonio Tublén -- doesn't even get a theatrical release in its home country, let alone in America. Oh, it's played film festivals around the world (nearly two dozen of 'em) before finally making its DVD and digital debut here last month. I guess we can be grateful for that. But, still: One has to wonder at the obtuse nature of film distribution in these days when almost everything else hits theaters.

Film buffs will be grateful for what they're able to see -- in whatever format -- but what straight-to-DVD-and-digital means in this case is that a genuine "original" won't get the publicity necessary to put it on the map. Too bad, but consider this your alert -- LFO: The Movie is just too good to miss. Mr. Tublén, shown at right, has graced us with a sci-fi film that, if I am not mistaken, traffics in zero special effects. That's right. In this case, it's all about your mind. What you know, what you see, and what you hear -- and how you can piece all this together.

Don't get me wrong. LFO is not a difficult film to follow. It's rather simple, in fact. A nerdy, techie who specializes in sound (a wonderfully rich and expansive performance by Patrik Karlson, above and below) discovers how to control the minds of others via sound and begins to put this to use in his local neighborhood.  Now, I think this is done via sound waves. The science here may take some suspension of disbelief, but then that is true in almost all sci-fi movies, right? Once you accept the movie's premise, you're in for a shocking, funny, dirty, surprising and finally moving ride.

How our non-hero uses his new discovery/toy on his friends and neighbors is one thing; how the filmmaker delivers the guy's family -- wife and son -- is something else entirely, and this is handled, as is everything here, simply and spectacularly well.

Basically, the movie is a entertaining treatise on the uses of power -- first as our guy lords it over his attractive new neighbors, Lin and Simon (played nicely by Izabella Jo Tschig, above, right and Per Löfberg, above, left) and then any of the odd folk (police, insurance investigator, and another would-be scientist/competitor) who show up unwanted -- initially in ways rather minor but soon more and more widespread.

If at first this story seems small and housebound, wait. Eventually its reach will become huge, going places and dragging you along where you would never have expected, given the film's beginning and much of its continuation.

LFO also allows that a character can indeed change and grow, something one does not always get from sci-fi films these days. And if it is, to boot, a comedy, as is noted in the press materials, it's a very dark one. That, as much as anything else, is what probably scared off a theatrical release.

You can view LFO: The Movie -- from Dark Sky Films, in Swedish with English subtitles and running 94 minutes -- now on DVD digital and streaming. It is more than worth a watch.

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