Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Blu Ray Review: Griff The Invisible

The Movie
An instant favorite of mine in the everyday superhero sub-genre, Griff The Invisible is the story of a mild mannered, oft-bullied office worker who leads a secret life as a vigilante superhero. His existence is thrown through a loop when he meets his brother's not-girlfriend Melody, a loner scientist with fantastical interests & aspirations of her own, including figuring out how to walk through walls. The connection between the two presents itself after Melody reveals her multiverse theories to a stumped Tim and fascinated Griff during an unexpected visit. The romance that unfolds is sweetly off-beat and combats any predilection towards the twee with a unique sense of humor, strong chemistry and genuine portrayals of of these innocently unhinged people. We root for their impossible dreams to come true and most importantly, root for them to pursue these dreams together.

With a seamless blending of fantasy and reality, clever knack for storytelling, pitch-perfect casting and soundtrack, and unique take on what is now a somewhat tired subgenre, Leon Ford shines in his directorial debut. The Blu-Ray, giving 16mm the 1080p treatment, looks fantastic, maintaining the gritty nature of the 16mm film without sacrificing clarity. If you’re a fan of Kwanten’s work as Jason Stackhouse on True Blood, this is an easy recommendation, but I believe this indie romance has an appeal that reaches far beyond the fan base of its lead. Maeve Dermody almost steals the show and it’s baffling that this unearthly beauty with such a precise and honest talent hasn’t yet been discovered on this side of the world. Patrick Brammall, as Griff’s obnoxious but caring brother who displays slightly more socially acceptance oddities in his personality, shows a great handle of comedic timing, obvious especially after watching the extras and hearing his contribution to the commentary.

For any of us with secret fantasies, whether they are walking through walls, saving the day or something even closer to the plane of reality we are familiar with, Griff The Invisible is meant for us. It’s a love letter to our potential and finding someone to reach it with, no matter how difficult life becomes or how much the outside world may fight against us.

Special Features

Commentary with writer/director Leon Ford, producer Nicole O’Donohue, and actor Patrick Brammall
This is where the meat of the Blu-Ray really lies if you want to learn about the shoot. We learn where the idea came from, how Kwanten got involved, insights into the music choices, including Lenka and Lykke Li, shooting locations, set dressing, which scenes were used to audition the actors, actor Toby Schmitz’s hair, how certain effects were achieved, and more. One of my favorite bis of information, since the special features left me craving a look at the technical aspects and design of the shoot, was learning about “Hero Mode”, the shorthand for all departments noting the moments when Griff becomes the superhero version of himself, with blue and yellow lights, wide, comic book-like camera lens, Ryan in the suit, and more. Brammall keeps the commentary light and littered with jokes between the anecdotes, and technical dissection.

Featurette (4:08)
Begins with the trailer then jumping to a standard featurette, featuring Kwanten talking about his connection to Griff (with an endearing confession), the leads on acting together, info on the suit and how the story was formed, and more. Short but sweet.

Anatomy of a Scene  Opening Sequence (3:16),  All-In-One Shot (2:16), Anyhoo (2:00)
Dissection of three different scenes, from storyboard to final cut, with some behind the scenes footage thrown in, including the director figuring out how to tackle one scene on location and a couple shots from the rehearsal process. Opening Sequence is very much about the action, a complicated sequence. All In One is particularly super cool, cause I wondered about they shot it myself while watching (so much simpler than I assumed it would be!). I won’t get into details so as not to spoil the moment, but you’ll see when you get there. Anyhoo is more about the actors and moments, showing on set footage, and Ford watching the monitor, and an ADR session with Patrick Brammall.

Appear Calm: Diary of a First Time Director Pre-Production (1:25), The Shoot (3:11), and Post Production (2:42)
A short self-made piece documenting Ford's first time making a feature film. Divided into three sections, pre-production, the shoot and post, it's mostly comprised of his thoughts, recorded with a webcam, paired with behind the scenes footage. Pre-Production is about a minute long, just a quick bit about beginning the rehearsal and read through process. The Shoot picks up after the first day, where we see a genuine reaction from Ford, impressed with the work of the actors across the board, and picks up again the Sunday before the final week. In Post Production, we see shots of the editing room and gain insight into the tedious process. We see him deal with needing to cut the film down, screening to producers, then holding screenings, finishing the final sound mix, getting picture lock, figuring out how to compromise and his journey to utter exhaustion.

While this feature doesn’t go particularly in depth or anything, but it’s still nice to hear tidbits about the shoot and hear from the man behind it all. Things get blurry the further you get from them, so it’s nice to have interviews filmed with only himself in the room, done *at* the time. I like some authenticity in my Blu-Ray extras.

Rain Stops Play (1:16)
During a pause in shooting while it was raining, Brammall and Ford jump into a improvised comedy bit that is genuinely hilarious. Or maybe it’s just cause Brammall's accent reminds me of New Zealander Rhys Darby that I think he's so funny, but this featurette was enough to make me research whether Brammall is well known comedian or anything, so well done Patrick Brammall!

Patrick’s Set Tour (1:24)
Patrick Brammall takes us on a brief but humorous tour of the set.

Deleted Scenes (7:36)

Here we see another clip showing Tim’s mild idiocy (and complete lack of connection to Melody), more of Griff’s scheming, Melody being awkward, many elongated scenes, including one in the office, one of Melody with her parents, and one of Griff with her parents and a sweet scene between Griff and Melody, getting to know each other, which was perhaps the only one that I wondered about being cut.

Music Video: Don’t Give Yourself Away by the Shadow Bureau
Oddly, one of my least favorite songs of all the music used in the film, which is overall incredibly strong, but it gets to be the official music video for some reason. The lyrics have a relevant and nice message, so I guess I see it, but of all he songs I was dying to hear in their entirety, this one was at the bottom of the list.

Overall, the features are fun, but I would have liked a lot more behind the scenes info, especially on the acting process and design elements. The film is so stylistic and specific, I would have loved to learn more about the way it was shot and put together. Commentary is definitely the place to go to for even a taste of this information, but sadly won't illuminate anything as far as acting is concerned, as the two leads do not participate.

Film: B+
Extras: B
Buy, Rent or Skip? Buy. It's a wonderful little movie that I can't help but think could use our support. I'm giving two copies, so if you're interested in winning the film, just head here and enter the contest.


Penelope Sanchez said...

Griff the Invisible is a very touching story that blends the lines between reality and illusion that is definitely worth at least one watch and I would highly recommend it. The story isn't too similar but if you like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind this movie is definitely worth a chance.

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