Sunday, July 31, 2016

Fantasia 16' Film Review - The Arbalest

We all go to the movies hoping to see something different. We are looking for a unique story, original dialogue and a fresh approach to acting. Adam Pinney's Fantasy film The Arbalest checks all of these categories and more. The film is set in a parallel universe where items were not invented as they were on our timeline.  The first clue is the film's title announcing that there has been no advancement in weaponry since the 12th century invention of the modern crossbow. Thus what would be the board game Risk in our world is the Arbalest the game of world domination.

Into this picture steps Foster Kalt (Mike Brune) a nervous young man working on his pitch at the 1968 Toy Convention. Two other convention attendees join him to kill time before their presentation.  The pair show Foster their invention, two variations on the Rubik's cube. Forster's toy is not complete but Sylva (Tallie Medel) is encouraging while her male partner ridicules. A night of over drinking, drugs and inebriated declarations of love follows leaving Sylvia in charge of the cube that she asks Foster to present in exchange for a steady supply of royalty cheques if the toy is a success.

Pinney's film is the story of a man who has large commercial success while his personal life is a disaster. In 1970 the Kalt Cube made Forest Kalt more popular than Neil Armstrong the year after the lunar landing. However he can't get past rejection from Sylvia as he remarks she kept the royalty cheques but returned all the love letters. The dialogue in the film is very direct and simple. The main topics are toys, unrequited love and a vow of silence. The viewer could easily see these events occurring in a 12-year-old child's world. Cinematographer Hugh Braselton and costume designer Karen Freed work set the colour palate of the film and the look of the two main time frames of 1968 & 1978 which were vastly different although only 10 year apart.

Mike Brune presents three versions of Kalt in the production. He's shy unsure then lovestruck from the slightest bit of kindness and attention shown by Sylvia in 1968. When the storyline jumps forward to 1978 he's the eccentric millionaire recluse who has taken a vow of silence but agrees to an interview to present his new invention. In 1974 he is complete obsessed with Sylvia, moves next door to watch her every day until a Game Night playing of Arbalest reveals his true level of mental instability.

The Arbalest focuses on a central character who is a fraud and failure win the affections of his perceived life's love leads to severe erratic behaviour despite fortune and fame. He has not had his one great invention and the idea did not come until driven to by the need for revenge. The story is original the dialogue crisp, concise and peppered with sardonic humour along with strong acting performances make it a film I highly recommend.

**** Out of 4.

The Arbalest | Adam Pinney | U.S.A. | 2016 | 73 Minutes.

Tags, Fantasy, Toys, Invention, Convention, Love, Hate, Fraud, Interview, Recluse, Albert Lamorisse, Revenge.

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