Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Jamin Winans: "The Frame": Filmmakers -- particularly screenwriters and music composers -- rule the world, at least in Colorado

Jamin Winan’s latest film, “The Frame”, may seem a bit “obvious” at the end, as it depends on reality-bending that has been approached by other directors, like Christopher Nolan, David Lynch, and even Jorge Ameer. The work of Richard Kelly ("Donnie Darko" and "The Box"), transplanted from Virginia to the high plains, comes to mind, too. 
Winans gives us two unrelated characters.  Alex (David Carranza, from “The Blacklist”) works for a cartel, stealing cargo, which appears to be cocaine, but there is a hint it could be something more sinister.  I wondered, what it the cargo were a flux gun for local EMP attacks.  Sami (Tiffany Mualem) works as paty of an emergency medical technician.  The film gives us a long backstory of her troubled family background.
Soon the two characters start seeing each other on television.  I hope that’s not too much of a spoiler.  They wonder if their TV’s have webcams, or some kind of automated Skype.  But the film gradually moves into a kind of Lynch-land.  It’s shot in Denver and the plains to the East (like Jamin’s other movies) but the colors are dark, sepia.  In the skyline, there is an odd wrecked metal scaffolding that almost looks like a crashed spaceship.  Inside, the two protagonists seem to live in dreary and dark but spacious apartments (again, almost out of “Blue Velvet”). 
Sami thinks Alex is a character in a miniseries, “Saints and Thieves”.  She wants to warn him of the danger he is in.  Alex, likewise, begins to get the idea that both of them are being manipulated by some sort of god.  At one point, one of Alex’s cohorts smashes a TV, a scene recalling “The Terminal Man” (1974). Both characters find a bizarre room where a web press spits out a screenplay, in industry forma (like Final Draft or Screenwriter)t, and both people are characters in the movie.

So imagine, as an author of a novel, or of your own fictive screenplay, you play god with your characters.  They do your will.  You can have their outcomes follow any value system you want.  I’m reminded of the 2002 critical hit, “Adaptation”, also a meta-story about screenwriting. There aren't many orchids to steal in Colorado, though.  
This latest film from Jamin Winan runs a little over two hours, rather like a director’s cut.  

Conceptually, I think it is his strongest film.  I think he not only wrote and directed (there is a large supporting cast of extras) but composed the music, which has a passacaglia-iike theme reminding me of Hans Zimmer in “Inception”.
The screenplay that I entered into “Project Greenlight” (“Baltimore Is Missing”) envisions a protagonist (me), riding an Amtrak train and winding up in oblivion when the train tries to come out of the CSX tunnel.  The protagonist winds up on “another planet” as a puppet in an old adversary’s model railroad world.  This is sort the same kind of concept.
The official site is here.  The film was available in Oct. 2014.  I watched it on Amazon Prime.  I’m not aware of a theatrical release.  If the West End Cinema in Washington DC were still open, it would be a good fit to show there.  Like “Ink”, it seems to have only “Double Edge Films” as a corporate distributor.  Somehow, it seems to me it might fit A24 or IFC.  His first film was distributed by Tartan. OK, I can entertain myself by playing the Lionsgate intro on YouTube.
Picture: the model world for my “Baltimore” – actually the “space station” on Titan (the training barracks) for my DADT screenplay. I know, it looks a little cluttered, but it is a real alien world. 

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