In the Heart of the Sea (2015)

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This beautiful film is about self sacrifice and submitting to the awesome forces of nature. What this film is not about is a monstrous whale. The narrative is clearly divided. One follows Tom Nickerson’s journey from innocence to experience. Meanwhile, we discover Chase and Pollard’s hubris downfalls.
Thematic approach is tantamount to Howard’s Apollo 13. We’re presented with a story of people shaking loose their societal safety net and rediscovering their strengths in the volatile nature. Also much similar in theme is how space wasn’t an active agent yet it was always dangerously close to our Apollo astronauts. Similarly, the white whale constantly lurks beneath the dark waters reminding us of death’s indiscriminate hold on everyone and everything.
First we’re introduced to an old Nickerson who is convinced by Melville to relay his tale of the fateful journey of Essex. As he flashes back, a young Nickerson discovers the inherent brutality of nature. Although eager to set sail on the ocean, the ocean quickly greets Nickerson with helpings of sea sickness. Although excited to join his first whale hunt, as harpoons slice into mother whales while their calves flee, he is quickly burdened by the savagery. In addition, the boy’s size unfortunately grants him the ability to crawl inside the whale cavity and scoop out oil. This imagery builds up tension until Nickerson finally reveals his most dreadful secret.
We also watch Chase and Pollard become diminished by forces of nature. When we begin their tale, they are both men trying to live up to their families’ expectations. Although each man has a different history, Pollard points out that he was born into whaling while Chase was born to do the job. However, both men are arrogant to a fault. Pollard fails to conquer a storm, while Chase fails to fill the ship with scarce whale oil. Their onboard resources become depleted while they struggle to find people to trade with. The voyage slowly strips away their status, command, mission, and resources until the godlike whale finally takes everything away.
The 3D presentation is a wonderful treat. Instead of going for the poke your eye out entertainment, the 3D and coloring made long shots pop with beautiful and vivid contrasts. Each shot looked like a 19th century oil painting. Also, instead of zooming close for dialogue shots, they would creatively use the 3D to sculpt the foreground and use the illusion of depth to frame each shot. It’s always a welcome treat when directors don’t use the 3D tech as a gimmick.
All the actors did a very fine job, and bravo to being able to put in those performances while filming on water. Even the small supporting roles shown brightly. In fact, Michelle Fairly 19th century naturalism, Cillian Murphy sober desperation, or Jordi Molla haunting narration stole the spotlight.
Although Ron Howard is a master of style, each film is very well distinguished film. This doesn’t look like a Howard film. It looks and feels like a 19th century epic. He has a wonderful ability to embrace his subject’s story and not let anything or anyone interfere with its identity. He allows the movie to subtlety reveals itself. For example, instead of quoting scripture or subverting the religious subtext of Moby Dick, he quietly places a priest in the background to help nail down the underlying meaning of this epic. Not only is this movie worth watching, but also it worth watching multiple times.

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Jake’s Road Interview

Seedy Review recently caught up with Mike Mayhall to talk to him about his new Slasher film, Jake’s Road.

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Hello, Mike. Please tell us a little about yourself and Mayhem Productions.

Hello All …
Where to start? I grew up outside of New Orleans. A city of large character, filled with characters. I starting studying theatre in high-school … went to college for it … and I have never looked back. I started Mayhem Productions when I was living in Orlando, FL. We did improv comedy sword fighting shows. It was a super fun and creative time in my life. At some point I moved to Los Angeles with the want to work in Film. Then Louisiana’s film industry started booming and moved back home. With one goal. Make movies. And, I am happy to say … that’s what I am doing.

 

Besides Jake’s Road, what has been your favorite or most challenging experience of your career?

I can’t choose just one. It’s been a career filled with great memories. And, hopefully tons more. Each project is my favorite. Each experience challenging. I can say this. Every time I stepped into a new arena it was a challenge. When I went from a stage actor to wanted to produce my own live stunts shows … challenging. When I decided I wanted to do stunts in movies and TV … challenging. Making my own film. Very challenging. It’s when ever, I think, anyone steps out of their comfort zone towards a bigger goal or a bigger dream. And, I guess that’s why everything is my favorite. Because I keep trying to move forward.

 

Can you tell us about the conception and development of Jake’s Road?

I started to focus on Jake’s Road when I moved from Los Angeles back to New Orleans. I wanted to do a thriller and horror movie, because I just love the genre. But, I wanted it to be intelligent and suspenseful, rather than hack and slash. I also wanted it to have personal meaning beyond the story.
I spent many of my younger days at my stepfather’s hunting cabin out in the backwoods of Folsom, LA. A place simply called, ‘The Camp’. It sits on 250 acres of land next to a small stream and is ideal for a horror movie. It’s a place where your imagination can run wild. It was the site of some epic parties. It was an escape from the everyday and was filled with so many wild tales of the unexplainable that they bordered on supernatural.
It was also the birthplace of an old campfire story about a hired hand, named Jake, who went crazy one night and took revenge on the former owners of The Camp. So, I guess you could say Jake’s Road is one half my twisted imagination and one half stories and events from my youth.
But, the story of Jake’s Road is so much more than that. All that is just the back drop. It’s got some great acting, some fun action and twists that are just soul crushing.
I think, as with anything, if you love what you do it shows through. That’s an old adage from my theater days. If you are having fun, if you enjoy you’re performance the audience will enjoy it as well. I just happen to enjoy thrillers …

 

Did anybody else help collaborate with the development?

Everyone helped. I would have been lost with out my fellow producer and long time friend Tim Bell. We started sword fighting together back in Florida and we always talked about doing a film together. So, when the time came I called him first. He also played ‘MIKE’ in the film.
It amazed me how supportive everyone was. From start to finish. And, what I really love is that everyone because a little family. We all still talk today and hang out and support each other. I think that friendship shows in the film. Everyone gave their all, take after take.

 

How long did it take to go from concept to final cut?

Once I had the script done … it happened rather quick. I wrote it over the course of a few months. It was my only focus. Then we hit pre-production and to be honest that was a bit of a blur. It involved hurricane’s, cancellations moving shooting dates, locations being flooded. It was a mess. The actual shooting went great. Super smooth. Then I guess about 4 months after we wrapped he had a final cut.

 

There are a lot of beautiful and brutal shots in the forest. Where was this filmed?

We filming in South Louisiana. And that comes through. Especially when you film in the more rural areas. When those cicadas start up it adds another layer to the world. Something you can feel. Those deep woods. Where there is no where to run for safety.
Night in Louisiana is my favorite. It’s warm with a breeze and teeming with life. You are surrounded by an orchestra. Actually, at times the cicadas and crickets got so loud we couldn’t film. They drowned out the actors.

 

Was it challenging to travel to and film in a dense remote location?

It wasn’t that tough. We had big pick up trucks. Everyone loaded up and off we went.

 

What equipment did you use?

We shot, believe it or not, on a 5D camera. We had a great DP and sound department that made us look like a million bucks.

 

The knife attack scenes were very brutal. What are some of your favorite kill shots?

I have two favorites … I don’t want to give them away, but if you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I am talking about. One is with the main characters. When Sam and Kay stubble across a killing. It’s just macabre. Their slow realization of whats happening. The other is after the group is divided and running. And the killer starts hunting. That’s a brutal, bone crunching hard one to watch.

 

How did you conceive them?

I have a twisted warped imagination.

 

Can you share any information on upcoming projects?

Sure … I have written to full on action films. I am hoping to get them off the ground next year. One I have written for Leticia Jimenez, who plays Kay in Jake’s Road. It’s a darker action film. Think Smoking Aces meets Saw. And the other is an action fantasy.
Where can people watch Jake’s Road?

It’s an easy rental on iTUNES or Amazon. All follow us on twitter. And see the trailer at www.jakesroadthemovie.com

Thanks!
This was fun.