Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Stuff MX ’16: Keep Going (short)

Margo is the sort of post-apocalyptic android Johnny Cash would appreciate. His name is not an accident. It is a conscious way of differentiating his protective new role from his destructive past. Margo’s retrofit makes him more than Yeon-hee’s guardian. He is also her external pacemaker. Unfortunately, the world is not inclined to appreciate their bond, but things might be better on the other side of the border. However, safely crossing it will be a real trick in Kim Geon’s pedal-to-the-metal sf short film, Keep Going (trailer here), which screens during the 2016 Stuff MX Film Festival, south of the border.

Humanity was nearly annihilated during the last planet-wide war, thanks to the use of battle robots like Margo. Of course, it really wasn’t their fault. Nonetheless, after the armistice, a large luddite contention decided to merely switch their armed hostilities towards all things robotic. The large anti-robot contingent dug in near the border will not care about Margo’s life-sustaining function. If he and Yeon-hee hope to continue their trek, they will have to fight their way through.

Somehow, Kim packs an awful lot of genre filmmaking into a mere twenty minutes. As an action film, Keep Going is as good or better than any feature released this year. In addition to the spectacular centerpiece shootout, Kim economically creates a convincingly detailed near future world. Margo’s robotic features are particularly spot-on, combining hard steel with worn edges, while conveying the sense of something like a conscious imprinted on his circuit board.

Choi Bae-young portrays Yeon-hee with tremendous sensitivity and vulnerability, even while she is kicking butt. Likewise, even though Lee Tae-young is buried beneath the Margo helmet, he is still giving a real performance through his body language and action chops.

Any way you break it down, Keep Going represents massively impressive indie genre filmmaking. It is easy to see how the short film could be expanded into a full epic feature. In fact, there is a graphic novella prequel posted on the film’s Facebook page that explains how Margo became Yeon-hee’s protector. However, there is indeed dramatic logic to the place where Kim choses to conclude the short. Regardless, anyone who enjoys films with whizzing projectile action and human-robotic relationships will flip for Keep Going. Very highly recommended, it screens this Thursday (10/20) as part of the Stuff MX Film Fest.