Friday, July 5, 2013

3 Short Paragraphs: The Numbers Station

2013, Kasper Barfoed -- download

In the days when I worked video stores, pre-DVD, families would come in and rent (many!) straight-to-video movies that starred recognizable faces but lacked full Hollywood backing. This is different from the onset of indie films where directors, writers and actors made a movie with a lot of heart, if not a lot of money. The straight to video showed in its die-hard mediocre state, a laziness in the writing and acting and that only smacked of familiarity and not true interest. But I have to say, that is pretty much all these families wanted to see. But my point is, where does this market lie now? On Demand? Download services? As a man who only sees movies in the cinema or via... other methods, I don't know where  the audience for substandard movies (non-cult, non-genre) comes from.

The Numbers Station is one such movie. You will know John Cusack, not only his name and face but his role. This is a role where the producers went to Cusack, asking him to play his character from Grosse Point Break (really, 1997 ?!?) but, "more darker, more tired."  You can see it in the way he scrapes the gun barrel across the floor, in the way he sighs and runs his hands through his thinning hair (like me, his hair line is high but not really receding much) and does such a good job as the assassin who has run his course. He works along side Malin Ackerman who I want to say actually brings something to the role, for in the few minutes before she is crying and scared, and is doing a decent job of playing the thoughtful post-college kid who thinks she is doing something useful for her government. But here we have the two, wrapped in something boring and whose entire plot could have been played out in one of my post card stories.

Numbers stations? You must have heard of them? They are one of those conspiracy theory pieces of life that do not have a good explanation but are real. In fact, when I was a kid playing with a ham radio, I heard a distant voice playing out the numbers. I assumed it was something weather or forestry related. But these numbers echo over the airwaves randomly, heard by few but picked up by the occasional X-Files or Fringe writer. In this fiction, they represent some tired instructions to government hitmen, a very lame reason for all the technology, cloak and dagger show in the movie. I think a dead drop of a thumb drive saying, "Kill this guy," would have sufficed. But "cool idea" plus two low rent actors equals straight to something movie!