Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fantastic Fest 2012 Review - THE HISTORY OF FUTURE FOLK

Directed by: John Mitchell and Jeremy Kipp Walker
Written by: John Mitchell
Starring: Nils D'Aulaire, Jay Klaitz and Julie Ann Emery
Synopsis: Aliens come to earth to save their own planet, form an acoustic guitar/banjo duo instead. 

As the resident music nerd here, it was my sacred duty to watch and review this film, and I am so glad that I did. At first, I was a little skeptical that this might be another take on the joke-band concept done so well by Flight of the Conchords, but it turned out to be a really enjoyable movie with a fun story.

As the movie was billed, this was the fictional origin story of a real life band.  The story itself, while a little predictable at times, was sweet in its message, and the actual musicianship displayed in the movie was pretty great. The story deals with Bill or as he is known on his home planet, General Trius. His people from the planet Hondo sent him on a mission to find another planet for them to live in because there’s a comet that's slowly headed on a collision course with Hondo. His mission would have taken him to Earth to eventually destroy the planet with a virus to make way for the incoming Hondo population. Something happened that derailed the mission, General Trius heard music. It was at that point that he realized that he couldn’t destroy this planet or its inhabitants, and that would try to figure out a way to save Hondo while not destroying Earth.  Since he has not come back, the Hondo sends a clumsy assassin, Kevin, after him, and that starts a chain of events that sees him getting kicked out of his house and his family life that he had built nearly destroyed.

I’ll be honest when I say that I’m not too familiar with Future Folk. Doing a quick iTunes and Google search, I see that there’s only album that has been released and it just came out in June. I actually really want to see them live because of this movie. The few full songs that they played during the movie were fun and had good songs-man ship. I hate to make the comparison, but just to make it easy, it would be good to compare the humor to Flight of the Conchord songs in that they sound like real songs made by musicians that just happen to have humor instead of something like Lonely Island.

The movie itself has a "musical" type of humor to it where you'll see things like Kevin learning an entire catalog of songs in just under 26 hours among other things. Another example is Bill, as the Earth expert, contrasting well to Kevin's wide-eyed sense of wonderment to this new culture that makes them a competent on-screen duo. My favorite scenes included Bill and Kevin just walking around with the native Hondo suits around in public like it's not a big deal. Apparently in Hondo, they didn’t know about buckets so that would explain their goofy looking helmets that you see in the poster and in all of the marketing material.

Just like any movie where a character’s life unravels around him, Bill’s story take the usual turns and story beats, like when his wife asks him what is going on and instead of telling the truth, he needs to lie to “protect her.” It’s stuff like this that kept the movie from being 100% amazing to me. There was a portion towards the middle that really dragged on because it was full of the aforementioned movie clich├ęs. I think where the movie shines is not so much what it’s saying but how it’s saying it. I really like the fact that the overlying message is the positive effect that music can have. That music is something so moving that it’s worth saving an entire planet, and in a festival of super messed up movies, it's pretty great to see. 

THE HISTORY OF FUTURE FOLK screens Sunday, September 23rd at 9:30pm and on Thursday, September 27th at 12:00pm.

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