Over the past few weeks, we've looked at three short films, each one more terrible than the last. Now it's finally time to give scores to the whole damn thing. In a case like this, however, numbers alone don't quite do justice. The scores below are not an average of the three films, but rather my assessment of the trilogy as a whole. Some of these scores may be a little controversial. For instance, I got some emails last time wondering why I didn't give The Other Side of Pain a worse score. Allow me to walk you through my thought process, so I can show you how, really, every failure in this collection of short films can be traced back to one man.
Plot: So, we've got a film about a psychotic personal trainer, a film about two neighbors with disturbingly pathetic lives that ultimately indicates the director's belief that rape is the victim's fault, and a film about godawful pool players ruining each others' lives. One plot might be dumber than the others, one might be more offensive, one might simply be the most insane. When dealing with something like The Bowman Trilogy, where one person is really responsible for the conception of the entire project, from writing to editing, I like to think of the "plot" category as the chance to not only assess the stupidity of the stories being told, but also the stupidity of the way in which they are told. This is much about dialogue as it is about actual story. Bowman not only tells pointless, insulting stories, but he tells them in ways that are almost stories unto themselves. It's meta-stupidity, and it's nothing to be proud of.
Acting: The actors throughout The Bowman Trilogy were all pretty terrible. None of them have any business being in front of a camera. Bowman is at least one of the better actors in his own movie, which is something to be thankful for. But this category isn't rating Bowman's acting. It's rating his choice of actors. He's the one who decided to put these people on the screen. He's the one who let them get away with flat, emotionless, robotic deliveries. He's the one who gave them dialogue that Ian McKellen couldn't save. Yes, the acting in these short films is bad across the board, but it was Vince Bowman who told all of these deluded actors that they were doing a great job.
Special Effects: There weren't a lot of actual special effects in this trilogy. There was the odd splatter of apple juice that was supposed to pass for blood in The Trainer, but that's about it. In some ways, Bowman deserves credit for that. He was at least smart enough to realize he couldn't do big car chases or explosions. But with so few categories with which to judge a movie, there's nothing better than "special effects" to use to criticize the use of props, such as the ludicrous guns in The Last Pocket, and creatively horrible use of camera tricks, such as the befuddling edits in the pool games.
Directing: This is the money category. Of course Bowman should take all the flak for the shitty directing in these films, but since he also wrote and edited them, this is where I like to take out my leftover aggression from the "plot" category. Did the writing in these movies suck? Yup! Is there a "writing" category? Nope! But what luck, the writer is also the director! I wouldn't expect a very positive score in this one.
Music/Sound: Bowman uses a lot of music in bizarre places throughout his films, but overall, it generally doesn't suck. But that doesn't make up for the myriad other sound problems, such as dialogue being too loud, dialogue being too quiet, wind smacking the camera, long speeches being obviously dubbed, and all sorts of other glitches.
All in all, The Bowman Trilogy is like rabbit poo. Instead of one big turd, you have a pile of smaller, yet equally disgusting turds. It's nice to see where this director got his start, and if Urban Ninjas is any indication, then as long as Vince Bowman keeps making movies, this site will never be without something to review.
Scores for The Bowman Trilogy:
|Music / Sound||-6|
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
Cons: causes bad nightmares. I used to have to eat beef until I passed out to have these kind of terrors, but this machine does it for me every time I fall asleep inside it.
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