Monday, January 26, 2015

Here's an odd one, just making its DVDebut: PLATO'S REALITY MACHINE via Myles Sorensen

New filmmakers get points for simply trying something new, even if things don't pan out quite as well as they might have preferred. Or maybe, I should say, as some of us viewers might have preferred. First-time full-length filmmaker Myles Sorensen has his movie opening theatrically this week, and it's an interesting mix of animation (in the form of a video game), live-action narrative and occasional "interviews" with the characters we're watching. The film is titled PLATO'S REALITY MACHINE and although it doesn't quite work overall, it is certainly watchable and sometimes, thanks to the actors on view, even more than that.

What is actually going on in the movie is initially up for grabs, as we're thrust into some futuristic animation (shown below) in which our hero is given a task to perform, along with the order, Don't Trust Anyone. Mr. Sorensen (pictured at left), who wrote and directed the film, offers up a good rendition of a video game (via his animator James Martin), in which our hero joins up with a young woman he has just freed from prison in order to get the bad guys.

Later we see one of his half-dozen actors, the cute and talented Doug Roland, below, whom we just saw recently in Wet Behind the Ears, actually playing that video game. Those "interviews," in which the characters tell us something about themselves and their lives, alternate with scenes of hook-ups (or would-be hook-ups) in which our six lead characters (this is definitely an ensemble piece) attempt to form some sort of connection with the opposite sex.

This is not easy, given the kind of characters we have here. The men all seem to follow that initial Trust no one dictum, while the women are of the needy variety whose method is either to immediately embrace and capture her man via feminine wiles that include good sex and better cooking, or keep him forever off-balance and confused. Neither works very well.

So what we have here in a movie about male/female relationships and trust -- put together in a weird but not impossible-to-master puzzle. That the men have "trust" issues -- inspired no doubt by that video game, which like so many video games, has its share of misogyny -- is no surprise.

The manner in which the scenes alternate is interesting for awhile, but this would have been more so were the characters and situations better imagined and written. The acting is fine, but there is not enough ammunition given the actors for them -- or the movie -- to really score.

Also, that video game is simply abandoned around halfway along. It returns for a moment or two at the film's conclusion, as if to remind us that it was there earlier. The good cast also includes Carolina Bartczak, Trieste Kelly Dunn (above and below) and Heather Shisler in the leading female roles, and Ed Renninger (above, right) and Nathan Spiteri (below, right), along with the aforementioned Mr. Roland.

Plato's Reality Machine, running a relatively fast 79 minutes, opens this Friday exclusively in Los Angeles at the little Arena Cinema in Hollywood. It hit nationwide VOD last week, so you can probably catch it in your own territory. And if you want to stream it instantly, just click here.

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