I'm not sure if anyone else has caught Ink yet but be prepared to..... Christ, I don't know what to say.... be confounded?, stunned?, blown away? Imagine what the result might look like if lavish '90s smut director Andrew Blake (a director whose work I'm rather familiar with) was hired to remake Terry Gilliam's Brazil on a budget of $10,000 with summer stock actors and a camcorder and you start to get a sense of what Ink is. It's shot on DV, sporting such a distinctly pornography "look" that I expected everyone to take off their clothes and start boinking each other in soft-focus-super-slow-mo about 3 minutes in. At about the 5 minute mark (to that point disappointingly smut-free), I toyed with the idea of turning it off, but decided instead to stick it out for another 10 minutes. Somewhere during this opening 15 minutes, Ink hooked me and I found myself getting more and more engrossed by its completely unique visual style, until I could tear my eyes off it (much like Blake's seminal/semenal 1997 film, Unleashed, the Citizen Kane of porn, but that's a topic for another post).
Over the last 5 or 10 years, an “indie” picture has come to mean something quite different than it did before that. These days, they tend to be stylistically threadbare, dialogue-heavy, conversational pieces where earnest 20 and 30-somethings discuss their latest must-have iPhone apps, 12 oz. mocha-latte's and life with equal vigor, much like I imagine hanging out at Cherry Bomb might feel like. Ink director (and producer, writer, musical score composer, boom mic operator and in all likelihood the guy who bought pizza and beer during the shoot) Jamin Winans has taken the “indie” film, thrown it over a sofa and thoroughly violated it, a Sunshine Cleaning of a very different sort if you will. Ink redefines “indie” so completely that the old indie is now just “mainstream without superheroes”. What remains to be seen is if he can find an audience for what might be a completely new cinematic style and extend that vision to show what indies are truly capably of. Ink raises the bar in ways I didn't think was even possible anymore.
Instead of getting into the film's intricate plot complexities and utterly unique vision, I'd rather focus on how to “watch” Ink, because I think it's important. Firstly, you need to forgive its bare-budget cinematic veneer and instead consider just how mind-blowing the linkage between the plot and the visuals are. The look and cinematography of the film is pure genius. While it draws inspiration from the likes of Dark City, the aforementioned Brazil, and the Matrix re-imagined as a high school drama production, Ink maintains a visual palette all its own. Don't expect the effects to look like they do in The Watchmen, because they don't. The film drifts a little in the middle and borders on cloying when the good witch explains the rules of the dream world to the junior bimbette at the centre of the story. This is the nature of innovation; not everything works and you have to give a little more latitude to the film maker than we're use to.
Even with these qualifiers, Ink is a stunner, far from perfect but even further from conventional and that makes it worthy of attention. It's a late entry on my 2009 top ten, its inclusion based almost entirely on the sheer tenacity of Winan's vision. If you want to see something that you've never seen before, Ink is your movie. Prediction..... Kendall and Kris will hate it and Joe and Tom will love it, but it's so unusual, I could have that completely backwards. I'd love to hear some feedback on this one, unless you all hate it in which case you're all fired.