INK – a short review

When you love something passionately, you want to share it with everyone you can. I’ve loved this film since I asked for it as a Xmas present in 2009 and it’s finally available in the UK from tomorrow… so I want to share it with everyone who reads me.

I hadn’t actually seen INK when I asked for it as a present (thanks wife-the-artist!), by the way. My interest was based entirely on this trailer:

(There is a second trailer, but I honestly think it’s a wee bit too spoilery. Your call.)

The first time I watched INK, I wept several times from the sheer joy of it, and cried buckets at the end. Now, anyone who’s sat & watched films with me will tell you this is not exactly unusual. What is unusual is that my deeply cynical, then-seventeen-year-old, son who watched it with me, wept too.

It is unquestionably my favourite pure fantasy film of all time, and it has a permanent place in my top 10 films of any kind. And it cost a mere $250,000 dollars to make.

I’m not going to say a whole lot more about the plot than the above trailer gives you – this is a film that rewards knowing only a little when you come to it. When I’ve tried to persuade people to watch it, a phrase I like to use is “imagine if Neil Gaiman made The Matrix on a shoestring budget”, which is not far off – because this actually is a film that lives up to that oft-used cliché of “a modern fairy-tale”.

It’s not a perfect film. Many of my absolute favourites (like, say, Altered States, Dark City or The Fountain) aren’t. Some of the performances are, shall we say, a little florid. A central twist is pretty easy to guess. It’s also probably not to everyone’s taste. But if you’re open to anything I’ve already said, I think it’s a film you could truly love.

It’s certainly a film that makes a virtue of its tiny budget. Writer/director Jamin Winans shot it in and around his hometown of Denver, Colorado, scored it himself (the music is a major contributor to the power of the film), built many of the costumes and props with his wife/co-producer/art designer Kiowa Winans, edited and composed the SFX in their basement on a Mac, distributed the film online… you get the picture.

When INK was released in the US, it seemed to hit a chord. On its’ DVD release in November 2009, it became the most popular torrent on The Pirate Bay that week. The Winans’ reaction to this was inspired – rather than complain or try to shut down or sue anyone… they put a tip jar on the website for those who enjoyed the torrented version.

Why does this film grab me so strongly? It’s a tale of brave but fallible warriors battling terrible evil and overwhelming odds. It’s about sacrifice and loyalty, myth and magic. It’s at times tragic, brutal, hilarious and bold. It’s unquestionably a Blank Badge film. It has characters I genuinely care about, doing things I totally understand. There are at least three scenes in there which I rate as perfect, classic movie moments.

And, ultimately, it’s a film about love conquering fear.

I really hope some of you out there will give INK a try. Let me know what you think.

 

 

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