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Board to Death B

Board to Death is Dammie Akinmola’s miniature (15-minute) film inspired by a short story, “Death by Scrabble” by Charlie Fish. The movie’s title, framing ennui and death wish as a game, signals a playful attitude toward its dark subject matter. Joshua Exposito, an odd choice of leading man whose voice, accent, and moody stare recall Highlander‘s Christopher Lambert, plays the jealous husband of quintessential femme fatale Victoria Ashford in this neo-noir black comedy.

Wasting no time getting to the grit, the film opens with the insane protagonist staring across a Scrabble board at his smug, smoking wife and giving voice-over narration in the conventional hardboiled fashion. “I’ll break the bones of anyone who touches her, anyone who lays eyes on her,” her swears. “I’ll crack their skulls and smash their teeth on concrete. They’ll suffer till their lights go out.” He then proceeds to live up to this bloody vow.

The black-and-white cinematography is gorgeous, and director Akinmola, also a composer, has wisely opted to use music sparingly, so that Exposito’s crazed whisper commands every inch of the viewer’s attention. One only wishes to see Board to Death expanded into a full-length feature, as too many characters are crammed into its too-brief running time for the audience to have any satisfactory sense of the meaning of each character’s deserts. If nothing else, the short format and compressed storyline prevent the viewer from ever becoming bored – let alone to death.

Board to Death

4 out of 5 possible stars.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Board to Death is:

8. Anti-feminist. The wife is a monster who cruelly enjoys her husband’s suffering and the murders he commits. Women’s empowerment has complicated and corrupted male-female relations, maddening men and discombobulating their moral compass. She “can’t be trusted” because she is “far too strong”.

7. Arguably anti-Christian. The murderous maniac protagonist is a churchgoer.

6. Pro-tobacco. In classic 1940s fashion, cigarette smoking is code for sex.

5. Multiculturalist. Peaceful non-white Britons sit with attentive gazes during a Christian service, suggesting that they are positively assimilated participants in Western Civilization.

4. Pro-miscegenation. A mixed-race couple (Carl Muircroft and Latifah Parara) appear to have a healthier and more normal relationship than the leads.

3. Media-critical. In one blatantly postmodern and self-referential scene, Exposito picks a fight against the backdrop of the poster for Board to Death, the very film in which he appears at that moment. Is this to suggest that the character’s diet of violent entertainment has shaped his insanity, desensitized him, and incentivized his antisocial behavior? Judging from Akinmola’s admission on the movie’s website to admiring Quentin Tarantino and his (flippantly ultraviolent) attitude toward life, one can only assume that this critique is unintentional.

2. Anti-gun. A bartender (Cristinel Hogas) keeps a shotgun under the counter, but finds it worthless as protection when the jealous husband seizes it from him and pummels him.

1. Anti-marriage. The husband alleges that his wife is “a demon, a succubus sent to tempt men.” Among his final utterances are the words, “Wife. Liar. Killer. Husband. Possessive. Paranoid. Dead.”

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Better than might be expected for a low-budget science fiction adventure out of cut-rate genre studio The Asylum, director Thunder Levin’s AE: Apocalypse Earth is an entertaining and tolerably paced concoction that might best be described as Predator meets The Mysterious Island, with a dash of Star Trek added for flavor.  Adrian Paul, looking every bit as handsome and virile as when he starred in the Highlander television series, stars as the unfortunately named Frank Baum, a military man who leads a group of refugees from an outer space “ark” after Earth is overrun by alien “chameleons”. Also in the group is spaceship pilot Captain Crowe (Richard Grieco), camo-skinned jungle woman Lea (Bali Rodriguez), and a gaggle of nondescript space-fillers who tag along.

AE unsuccessfully attempts to conceal that the planet on which they have landed is Earth hundreds of years after invasion and climate change have caused its lifeforms to evolve in striking ways, so that the Planet of the Apes style revelation of the ending has been obvious all along, arguably given away even by the film’s title, and carries none of the intended impact.  Despite this shortcoming, AE succeeds as a decent afternoon’s home entertainment matinee if viewers are willing to be lenient with the abundantly unconvincing CGI creatures and spacecraft. The picturesque Costa Rica locations lend a great deal of production value, and the costume design, particularly for the sexy Lea and the albino cave-dwellers, enhances the look of the film as well.

3 out of 5 stars.  Ideological Content Analysis indicates that AE: Apocalypse Earth is:

7. Anti-drone.  Aliens use the things like hunting dogs.

6. Feminist.  Lea lives and hunts alone and is capable of taking care of herself.

5. Pro-military.  Soldiers are depicted as noble and selfless servants of humanity.

4. Pro-NWO.  In the future, America is protected by the “North American Joint Military.”

3. Anti-racist/anti-white/anti-Christian.  Representing WASPs are a tribe of bald (i.e., skinhead), bigoted, and generally unprogressive albino cave-dwellers who have cast out Lea because she was born different. Having reverted to primitive superstition in their isolation, they believe those unlike themselves to be demons.

2. Multiculturalist/pro-miscegenation.  Baum gets the hots for humanoid Lea, the most beautiful woman he has ever seen.  A multi-ethnic band of survivors works together against the invaders – but the old sacrificial Negro convention lives!

1. Green.  “Most of the water on Earth is polluted.”  A “runaway greenhouse effect” has covered the planet with jungle and mutated the flora and fauna.  And Lea, the next step in human evolution, has literally turned green!

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