Monday, November 23, 2009

Ink (Review)


Ink (2009)

Directed by Jamin Winans

Terry Gilliam and David Lynch would be impressed by Ink.

In the world of indie cinema, most films go into generic period pieces of romantic dramedies. Rarely do you see a film that boldly attempts to be ambitiously creative and visually stimulating. It's always the big studios that go ga ga and make movies with CGI porn and non existent plots.

But Jamin Winan's Ink is a movie that defies the stereotype of independent cinema. The Denver based director has made an adult fairy tale that paints surrealism and story on a canvas of dreams.

It has everything you would like to see in a movie. A deeply thought out story, very honest and interesting characters, top notch CGI, a look and feel like no other other movie I've ever seen. Would you not pay to see this?

Well, it seems last week nobody was actually paying for it as Ink became one of the most downloaded movies on BitTorrent. I can't stop you from d-loading it but I can tell you why it's been getting the praise and the downloads.

After watching Ink, I'll say straight out, it's one of the best indie movies I've ever seen.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

As the light fades and the city goes to sleep, two forces emerge. They are invisible except for the power they exert over us in our sleep, battling for our souls through dreams. One force delivers hope and strength through good dreams; the other infuses the subconscious with desperation through nightmares.

John (Chris Kelly) and Emma (Quinn Hunchar), Father and Daughter are wrenched into this fantastical dream world battle, forced to fight for John's soul and to save Emma from an eternal nightmare. Separate in their journey, they encounter unusual characters that exist only in their subconscious. Or do they?

Ink is a high-concept visual thriller that weaves seamlessly between the conscious and the subconscious. Ink has been hailed as the new "it" movie.

Awesome Review-O-Matic

The filmmakers have compared that film to Alex Proyas's Dark City, Kelly's Donnie Darko and Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. It mostly resembles Pan's in its surreal world of light vs dark. I like to think it has a comparison to Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen as well. But honestly, I can try to think of other movies it feels like, but Ink feels like well....Ink.

We've always been told in story or fairy tale that there is a world between sleep and wake. This is Ink. Winan has created a mythos where "Storytellers", beings who create our good dreams battle Incubuses (who grin evily, wear large glasses and have window shaped TV paintings in front of their face) who give us nightmares. Oh it seems Legion-ish yes, but the parallel is all Lifetime Movie of the Week (in a good way) where a father John tries to connect back with his daughter Emma.

So what the hell is this about you may be asking?

In the middle of a suburban night, a mysterious dream scavenger named Ink (who wears a patchwork cloak and has a large nose) kidnaps Emma's dream soul (she is in a coma in real life) to bring to the Incubi so he can join their nightmare clan. In a very jamtastic opening battle, Emma is protected by the Storytellers or dream angels (who look like young 20 somethings from Hot Topic).

The battles play out invisible to the real world. And in this aspect I was impressed. Kicks and punch, kung fu madness destroy the settings they are in. A house's tables, cabinets and windows are all destroyed during the battle but reintegrated and fixed in milliseconds. I gotta admit, it is an impressive visual, done a little Matrixy but done super duper well.

Ink, now with Emma in tow takes her on a journey into this styilized universe of dreams and nightmares. The visuals are a surrealistic journey into metaphors and subconscious nightmares. Sort of like Eraserhead and Tetsuo but slightly calmer and in enhanced HD. The dreamworld we see is like your TV with the brightness at 100.

Later they are joined by another Storyteller who is taken prisoner and soon plays friend to young Emma. Ink soon realizes he has to find 2 codes in the dreamworld to gain access to complete his mission, deliver Emma to the Incubus to become one of them.

In the parallel story is John, Emma's father. He has become a hardnosed businessman who lost custody of Emma to her grandparents after his wife died. We see his life become all about his work and a very uber emoticon scene has John confront his father in law who he blames her his loss (for both his wife and daughter).

John's journey is told in quick glimpsey flashbacks, as we see good times with his wife and the aftermath of her death. However, John is helped by the band of 3 storytellers and a Pathfinder who try to keep the Incubi (who've manipulated John to keep to his current fate) away from him. The storytellers objective is simple. Help John and Emma reconnect and save two souls.

Got all that?

Well, once you watch the movie it all becomes very clear and non ambigious as I just described. There are alot of different things all happening at the same time which is why the movie clocks in at 140 minutes.

One of the most impressive scenes has got to be the "chain reaction" created by the Pathfinder which ultimately helps John find his daughter. Winans connects scenes that occur on a city block, random occurrences all blending together to accomplish a car crash. Simply a fantastic scene that pushes the plot and turned out genius in design.

Ink is full of humor, action, drama and pure mesmerizing visual candy. The performance by Chris Kelly is stellar. Playing John's downfall and redemption is striking to watch and by the end, he'll surprise you with his other role. Newcomer Quinn Hunchar's Emma was Dora the Explorer uber fun.

The only gripe is it's fragmented structure and John's narrative being a little over done. It's a little con in a near perfect film. Many of our mythological beings are also not made clear, but when you attempt to watch something that's intellectually stimulating as well as artistically challenging, that's bound to happen.

Ink is the sleeper hit of 2009. I had posted the trailer in February and it intrigued me then. After having watched it I can only say I am not doing it justice in my review. It stands alone as something you have to experience for yourself. So stop downloading Zombieland and buy, rent or Netflix Ink.

Because when you watch Ink, you may forget if your awake or sleeping.

WTF moment

Who is Ink?

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

Please don't torrent this. It's now available via DVD and comes out on Blu Ray on November 24th. It's also on Netflix and iTunes as well.

The DVD is full good stuff too. Special features include a Behind the Scenes featurette and a very cute interview between Chris and Quinn.

Head over to the official site as well for some uber awesome Ink goodies as well as the Facebook and Twitter pages.


Check out the trailer.

jaded viewer related linkage:
Ink (Trailer)
Ink Screening

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  1. I have been excited ever since you first posted this trailer, now I am going to make this the next movie I pick up!

  2. Strangely, I never heard of this movie until about two hours ago, which is about the same time you posted this review. I almost watched it, but went with 3-Iron instead, which was fantastic, so I don't feel cheated by not watching INK instead. However, after reading your excellent review and digging on the odd, yet captivating trailer, INK will be one of the next films I see. It is available on instant watch, by the way.

  3. Uh, where have I been? This looks and sounds absolutely fantastic, thanks for reviewing it JV, I had no clue it existed either and I am 100% in on this one

  4. So strange that I just stumbled upon your post. I almost watched this last night (like the other commenter). I have to get it now, having loved Dark City, Pan's Labyrinth, etc.