Wednesday, March 19, 2014

DVD Review: PIG (2011)

Pig (2011)

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The Movie

As genre fans, I'm sure we're all familiar with the idea of a "mindfuck" movie. Typically, they involve some sort of complex revolving around a character's past or present, and we as the audience are left to piece things together. Sometimes things are fully answered; other times, they are left open for interpretation. Director Henry Barrial’s film, PIG, is definitely a Sci-Fi-tinged film that falls into this broad category, and for the most part, it’s a satisfying journey.

The official synopsis for PIG is as follows:
A man (Rudolf Martin, NCIS) wakes up alone in the desert with a black hood over his head and his hands tied behind his back. He has no idea who he is or how he got there. The only clue to his identity is a name written down in his pocket, leading him to Los Angeles. The more he discovers about his past, the less he understands, until he stumbles upon something bigger and more unusual than he could have ever imagined.
The earlier blurbs that I had read about the film were comparing it to Christopher Nolan’s MEMENTO, a film that I thoroughly enjoy and greatly admire, so I was curious to check out PIG. Admittedly, I did not expect the film to match MEMENTO’s effectiveness; however, I did find quite a lot to like about the movie.

For starters, Rudolph Martin is very good as our main man in the film. He plays the role of this nameless, displaced character well, and while the early acts of the film are not dialogue-heavy, He still manages to convey his character’s confusion and put the viewer on a level playing field so that we are able to sympathize with him and see things as he does. In films like this, which rely on subtlety and focus on a singular character for almost the entire running time, this is no small task. With the wrong lead, I think that I may have lost interest early on, but Martin played the role in such a way that things stayed interesting, and the vulnerability that he displayed really worked for me.

I was also impressed with what Director Barrial was able to pull together on what I imagine were very limited funds. The film was independently financed, and at one point, the filmmakers turned to crowd-funding via Kickstarter to help with some of the costs later in the film’s production lifecycle. This is all covered in the extras on the DVD, and while a film’s budget shouldn’t denote quality, there is unfortunately often a correlation that can be made. In this case, PIG looks very professional, and while it’s not the kind of film that even attempts to be visually stunning, it was obvious that every dollar spent on the film was put on-screen. That really does say a lot for Barrial and his Producer(s).

In the end, PIG doesn’t turn out to be a head-scratcher, but that’s okay. I’m sure I’ll take some flak for admitting that I’m not always the biggest fan of movies that end in hyper-ambiguous ways; not because I think that every movie needs to lay things out for me bluntly (I am capable of making my own inferences), but because I feel that often times, people give too much credit to things simply because they don’t understand them. While PIG is mysterious and keeps its cards close to the chest for most of the running time, it ultimately does tie things up enough that you don’t need volumes of notes to understand what the filmmakers were getting at. And I appreciate that. It’s just enough to be satisfying, and it doesn’t detract from the film’s cleverness.

At the end of the day, is PIG an amazing movie? No. However, it is a well-made, low-key, noir-ish take on the Sci-Fi genre that entertained me enough that I feel very comfortable recommending it. If you can’t stand films that don’t move at a breakneck pace, or rely on a lot of character interaction to develop the story, then beware. But, if you are open to exploring ideas that may not be obvious at first, and you enjoy the journey of film as much, or more, as the destination, then certainly give this one a chance. PIG is a perfect example of why crowd-funding has a place in the film industry, and while it may not be spectacular or showy, it gets the job done and hopefully, it makes you think a little more about what makes us human.

Movie Score



Video Quality (3.5/5)

PIG is presented in a standard MPEG2 transfer in its intended aspect ratio of 1.78:1. Though it is a DVD, and doesn't benefit from the higher bitrate of a Blu-ray, the image looks good. In fact, upscaled on my Sony player to 1080p, I have no complaints. As I've said, the movie isn't a visually stunning affair, so what we get here is just fine.

Audio Quality (3/5)

The audio on PIG's DVD release is a Dolby Stereo track. While 5.1 Surround is the norm these days, I don't suppose there was much need to mix the film in that format, as it is fairly quiet, and not action-heavy, so I doubt it would benefit much. Everything is clear. No complaints.

Extra Features (4/5)

PIG comes with a nice assortment of bonus content:

  • Director's Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Kickstarter Video
  • Lonely Boy Video
  • Nashville Film Festival Video
  • Nashville Film Festival Q&A
  • Sci-Fi London Q&A

Final Thoughts

PIG's DVD presentation is just fine, and the disc comes with a surprising amount of special features. The most notable of these are the Commentary and the Q&A sessions; both of which give a good amount of insight into the ideas behind the film. At the end of the day, it's a good package for an interesting indie film that deserves at least one watch.

DVD Score


1 comment:

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