I broke a rule this year. Every year I make sure that I have watched every film that we screen at ShAFF so that there are no surprises. Sounds obvious, but when you are watching over 200 films and screening over 60 it's tempting to skip the odd one, and this year I did! It probably doesn't sound good admitting that, as the programmer for the festival, but I did it for good reason. The film in question is Life Cycles. It comes with a reputation like few others. With 177,000 views of its trailer, loads of awards, and a general buzz about it that I've never really experienced before I was happy to accept the film for the festival without actually having seen it. It finally arrived yesterday (it had been held up for a series of reasons more frustrating for the filmmakers than for me) so I settled down to watch it last night.
Wow. It's rare that I actually feel moved whilst watching an adventure film. Sure, some can tug at emotional strings and I've seen more than a few films reduce people to tears upon leaving the screening, but these film shave strong narratives and characters that you grow to love and empathise with. Life Cycles is essentially a variant on the standard bike-porn genre - lots of very well filmed action sequences and a decent sound track to boot. What sets it apart from the rest is the sheer volume of sumptuous shots. I like taking photographs and occasionally end up with one or two images that I am pretty pleased with. This film is packed so full of images I am envious of that it's quite simply unfair! The special effects, so often the downfall of an otherwise decent film, are amazing. Seasons change quite literally in front of your eyes whilst a biker is weaving his way across the screen. A chain link rusts in a matter of a second. The film constantly leaves you asking 'how do they do that?'
Can't wait to see (and hear) it on the big screen.