Monday, January 14, 2013

EZRA STEAD of MOVIES I DIDN'T GET reviews INVINCIBLE FORCE





MOVIES I DIDN'T GET 01.10.13
By EZRA STEAD

To my knowledge, Daniel Schneidkraut’s second feature, Invincible Force, must be the only film ever to have this unique amalgamation of genres attached to its IMDb page: documentary, drama, horror. All of these descriptions are accurate to some degree, and to them I would personally have to add comedy, though it is certainly comedy of the very darkest variety. Schneidkraut’s previous film, Seeking Wellness: Suffering Through Four Movements, could also be described in much the same way, though it lacks the distinction of any true documentary trappings and is, in fact, a collection of short films tied together by a common thread of suffering. In this way, Invincible Force could be seen as Schneidkraut’s feature film debut, and what a bracingly unique debut it is.

The film’s production alone deserves some ink for its unusual approach. Boasting a budget of exactly zero dollars, Schneidkraut (credited only as Dan S. in the film’s titles) filmed the project over the course of 90 days, “using only outdated technology that was found, borrowed, or stolen.” In addition, lead actor Drew Ailes actually undertook a rigid fitness regimen that lowered his body mass index from .27 to .085, and caused him to lose 35 pounds over the course of the three-month shoot. Though every scene in the film “is meticulously scripted, with not a word or action improvised,” this approach to the filmmaking lends it an uncomfortable feeling of reality, as though it were truly a found video diary of a man’s descent into madness.

Ailes stars as Drew, a paunchy metal-head in his early thirties who has decided to undergo an extreme fitness regimen in order to gain the power and discipline he feels is lacking in his life. At the film’s beginning, he seems relatively happy and comfortable, living with his longtime girlfriend, Amber (Anissa Siobhan Brazill), and regularly hanging out with fellow heavy music enthusiast Chris (Chris Bakke). However, something is clearly wrong with Drew’s interior life, and as he commits himself to his fitness program, all other concerns begin to fall by the wayside, as he ignores calls from his Dad (Paul Reyburn) and begins to alienate Amber and Chris. The film’s dark humor begins to show itself in an inspired scene in which Drew and Amber make love, and Drew begins counting his thrusts as though they were reps in a weight-lifting session.

Though this scene is undeniably funny, and there are many other moments that are as well, the single-mindedness with which Drew pursues his goal of slimming down and making himself more powerful and attractive is also extremely haunting. The slow, steady pace and relatively long running time of the film combine to make it a hypnotic experience, inextricably drawing the viewer into Drew’s disturbed existence by degrees as all other aspects of his life gradually give way to his obsessive transformation. By the time he reaches his darkly comic, unforgettably disgusting nadir, Ailes is practically unrecognizable. Schneidkraut’s filmmaking complements his performance with an equal commitment to austerity, making this the ultimate “anti-mumblecore” film they reportedly set out to make. It is a film that indicts our modern society’s empty worship of physical perfection without preaching or pandering to its audience, instead opting for a humorous touch and a deep, authentic character study of its protagonist.

Ezra Stead is the Head Editor for MoviesIDidn’tGet.com. Ezra is also a screenwriter, actor, filmmaker, rapper and poet who has been previously published in print and online, as well as writing, directing and acting in numerous short films and two features. A Minneapolis native, Ezra currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. For more information, please contact EzraStead@MoviesIDidntGet.com.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

ANNIE RIORDAN of BRUTAL AS HELL reviews INVINCIBLE FORCE









Of all the crude, chauvinistic, immature gestures that little men with undersized penises make, my least favorite is the “suck it” gesture. The gesturer in question will flatten both palms, fingers together, as though about to execute a double karate chop. Instead, with pinkies in and thumbs out, the hands will be slammed against the upper thighs, fingers pointing down, forming a crude triangular framing of the genital area, indicating that the recipient of said gesture “suck it.” Why any man who has graduated from grade school thinks this is a cool thing to do is beyond me. It looks silly, implies ignorance and is about as attractive as watching a baboon fling its excrement. But the gesture itself perfectly sums up what Dan Schneidkraut’s “Invincible Force” is all about: insecurity, testosterone, the fragile male ego and the awesomeness of Finnish death metal.

Drew is nothing special, granted. He’s an average Joe living a nondescript life in Minneapolis, but he has a decent job (office janitor), a good friend in fellow pudge-pal Chris, and a sweet girlfriend named Amber, who doesn’t care that he’s overweight, balding and not rich. She loves him for who he is. Unfortunately, Drew himself doesn’t know who he is and doesn’t particularly love himself. The semi-recent death of his mother and a strained relationship with his father seems to have knocked him for more of a loop than even he cares to admit. Perhaps it was his inability to prevent his mom’s death that has forced him to realize that he has no control over any aspect of his life, and if there’s one thing that insecure males crave more than sex, it’s control.

Drew decides to get with The Program, a rigorous 90 day diet and workout regiment which promises to transform him from flabby manboy to ripped and shredded badass. It’s not an easy transition: it’s tiring, nauseating and just plain hard, but Drew sticks with it. Eventually, when the fat begins to recede and the muscle starts to timidly rise to the surface, Drew’s confidence grows. But with the confidence comes the plague of entitlement. He’s worked hard and is seeing results, therefore he deserves rewards. Confidence becomes arrogance.

He dumps Amber for being too fat. He makes fun of Chris for being chunky. He browses the OKCupid dating profiles like a third generation cattle farmer at a heifer judging contest. He constantly talks about erasing the negative influences from his life, not realizing that he is the biggest and most negative obstacle in his own way. Soon, Drew is speaking in a language as foreign to me as Central Siberian Ket. Muscle mass, protein intake, blahblahblah steroidal juicing stuff, etc. With his friends long gone and his job lost, Drew devotes himself entirely to The Program, descending into a dark, lonely world of madness, sports shakes and fiber bars.

My friend and fellow reviewer Chris Hallock referred – respectfully – to Invincible Force as a “damn ugly” movie. He’s right, and I couldn’t have said it better myself. It IS a damn ugly movie, but it’s also subtly brilliant and weirdly, sickeningly funny. It’s not a movie to be enjoyed by any means. Much like Schneidkraut’s previous film “Seeking Wellness” it is a film to be experienced. It’s a cinematic orbitoclast, slamming into your cerebral cortex and knocking loose the dark matter you never really wanted to acknowledge was there. We’ve all known guys like Drew, have wondered what the hell makes them tick and why they’re such oblivious douchebags. “Invincible Force” strives to answer those questions and does a damn awesome – and ugly – job of it. The truth is never pretty, and if there’s one thing that Schneidkraut does well, it’s the Truth, stripped naked and shoved right in your face. I can honestly say that I will never again take a shit without thinking of this film, and if you’re wondering what the hell that means, I implore you to find out for yourselves.
With an awesome soundtrack featuring Finnish band Maveth (oh goody, a new metal band for me to salivate over! and regardless of what Drew says, girls DO listen to metal!) and a cast of real people, Invincible Force is like walking in on your parents while they’re having BDSM sex. It’s icky and uncomfortable and totally unforgivable and – yeah – damn ugly. It needed to be made, and few people would have dared told it the way Schneidkraut does. It’s ugly for a good reason, which just makes the aftermath all the more beautiful.

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Link to original ANNIE RIORDAN review HERE.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Director of REGISSÖREN (SE) reviews INVINCIBLE FORCE








FILM BIZARRO 03.06.12
By RONNY CARLSSON

Plot:
A man joins a 90-days work-out program and believes to have found a new reason to live. During these 90 days his body goes through changes, but his body isn't the only thing that changes.

Our thoughts:
What we've seen of Daniel Schneidkraut as a director so far is that when he makes a movie it's not just mindless entertainment. It's an experience that requires both thought and concentration. In a way I don't think it matters if you like his films or not as neither "Seeking Wellness" or "Invincible Force" will leave you unaffected, and that seems to be what they are set out to do. They want to shake your comfort zone, even if just a little bit. And they are very successful at that.

This particular experience follows a man, Drew, during 90 days. He has started a 90-days work-out program that forces him to change his life completely and make working out the main priority. What starts out as just a way to better your physique, leads to him losing his girlfriend, his job and his mind. At first this program makes him feel energetic and happy but he lets it take over his entire world, and he just has to live his life by maximum repetitions.

"Invincible Force" and "The Bunny Game" have something in common - they're not completely fiction. In "The Bunny Game" we had the Rodleen Getsic actually endure the torture that her character goes through, and in "Invincible Force" we actually see the real transformation from a slacker to a machine. I don't know the exact details of the film production but basically Drew Ailes actually did the same transformation as his character. I don't know if it was an experiment for the film or if they filmed around the fact that he was doing it. Either way, this is the so called "hook". This is the thing you'll be hearing about and it's what will gain a lot of interest. I know it did for me. But I am also very happy to find out that the movie isn't just that hook, but it actually has a well-written fictional story around it. And yes, make sure you understand that it's not a documentary - it still has a screenplay that it follows and it's a fictional story. Even though Drew's physical transformation is very interesting to follow, it's the way he starts to act that will keep you interested for the full 130 minutes. The way his and other's lives fall apart around him yet he only cares about himself and his body.

I know that "Invincible Force" got to me simply because of how my mood and thought-process changed through the film. I got involved and wasn't just watching it to be entertained. I wanted to see Drew transform into a fit machine, yet I was also fascinated in what a monster he becomes. For the first 30 or so days (within the movie) you sit there thinking "Maybe I should be working out more...". You get inspired and motivated. And then his life slowly starts to fall to pieces (the worst part was when he took down his "Basket Case 2" poster - hey! If working out makes me lose my film interest, I'm out!) and you start seeing a nice guy turn into an asshole. And actually, I have seen this happen in real life too. People can definitely get too involved into something. I don't really remember how far into the movie this is, but let's say it's through the next 30 days. And then by the end you realize he's a total wreck. We don't know what happens to him after these 90 days, but someone is going to die and very likely Drew too.

It's hard not to praise Daniel Schneidkraut and everyone involved for yet again breaking the typical rules and creating something like this. "Invincible Force" is engaging, devastating and absolutely fascinating. Films that get to you like this are worth remembering as they're rare. You don't have to like these films, but you should be able to recognize what they have done. Now, with "Invincible Force" it's not a problem as I think it's a great film. It's experimental in how it's filmed yet very real in how it was created, and to top it all off it has a good fictional story to tell as well and that's a much impressive feat.

Positive things:
- Seeing Drew the character and Drew the "actor" go through the transformation.
- Tells an interesting story of a man wrecking himself when trying to better himself.
- At first I was afraid I'd be bored because of the runtime but it flows really well.
- I'm usually so-so towards death metal in films (it usually comes off as cheesy ways to show your own taste) but in this one it just works well because of Drew's personality.
Negative things:
- It's both positive and negative that it ends on the 90 day mark. It fits perfectly with the film but at the same time we would've wanted to see what happens next.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

INVINCIBLE FORCE WINS "BEST SOUNDTRACK" @ MUFF

 
Despite some difficult technical issues INVINCIBLE FORCE was able to pull through with immaculate sound and win the coveted "BEST SOUNDTRACK" award at this year's Minneapolis Underground Film Festival. Congratulations to all of the soundtrack contributors: TALISSA MEHRINGER, AARON AREL, STEVEN KLINGLER, MAVETH and of course SERBERUS.

 

Thank you very much to everyone who attended and to the jury from The Minneapolis Underground Film Festival for recognizing the immense talent and motivational power of the INVINCIBLE FORCE soundtrack contributors. This is only the beginning.

Monday, November 7, 2011

ULTRA LIMITED FESTIVAL EDITION INVINCIBLE FORCE DVD

Single pressing FESTIVAL EDITION INVINCIBLE FORCE DVD in white case limited to 100 hand-numbered copies.

 (OUTSIDE)

(INSIDE)

Available for purchase at THE OLYMPIA FILM FESTIVAL (November 12th-15th, 2011) and THE MINNEAPOLIS UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL (December 2nd-4th) on a first come, first serve basis, as supplies allow.

20.00 (USD) (NON NEGOTIABLE)


Get with the program.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

INVINCIBLE FORCE WINS GRAND PRIZE @ RADAR HAMBURG


INVINCIBLE FORCE has just been named 'Best of the Fest' at the 2011 RADAR HAMBURG INTERNATIONAL INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL. Congratulations to everyone involved in the creation of INVINCIBLE FORCE. For more information about the festival and to see the other winners from RADAR HAMBURG please go HERE.

We are very grateful to the organizers of RADAR HAMBURG, Boris Castro and Ale Dumbsky, for their courage and generosity.

Dankeschön.