So, funny story.
I went to see a movie earlier today about a bear chasing a burned bison. Then some kids got killed at Yellowstone National Park. Then a self-admitted murderer was set free without as much as a trial. Something about holes being looped together, or loops being holed together…or some such thing. But that wasn’t the funny part.
The funny part came approximately 20 minutes into watching Population Zero, the much-heralded film from producer @TylerLevine and directors @JulianPinder and @Adamlevins, when a grouchy old man a few rows up from me proclaimed (loud enough for everyone in the theatre to hear), “I didn’t pay to come and see a documentary! I want to see a real movie!” His wife (I assume) then fled to the other side of the row (i.e. the burned/shamed bison), while the husband (i.e. the stalking bear) soon followed her lead and took a seat beside her on the far end.
The theatre quickly filled with the smell of urine because the rest of us were busy peeing our pants laughing.
First thing’s first, though: Population Zero is so good and in so many ways that it’s hard to believe it was made on a shoestring budget. The cinematography was breathtaking, the music mesmerizing, the acting spot-on and completely believable, and the storyline compelling, to say the least.
Second thing’s, well, second. Duh! I don’t want to give away too much, but if you believe metafiction works like Don Quixote, Barney’s Version and The New York Trilogy are not “real” novels – and metacinema works such as A Clockwork Orange, Fight Club and Stranger than Fiction are not “real” films – because their creators warped the whole suspension of disbelief thing, then perhaps Population Zero is not for you.
If, however, you go in open-minded and appreciate real grit through the cinematic lens, then you will be drawn in as slowly as the waters of the Upper Niagara River. Soon enough, without even realizing it, you’ll be sent barreling down the river when you suddenly hit a series of rapids, your heart pounding with anticipation. This all culminates in an ending that is sure to shock/surprise/titillate even the harshest of movie critics when the Falls themselves seem to knock you over the head right out of the blue.
To sum up: (1) Bison and bears make interesting animals to watch chase each other; (2) do not camp in an area of any national park without at least 12 local residents; and (3) Niagara Falls makes a wonderful metaphor for strong-to-quite-strong films.