FILM INFO: Megan's controlled family life is shaken by her destructive addiction.
WRITTEN BY: Jessica Blank DIRECTED BY: Jeremiah Kipp GENRE: Drama TIME: 15 minutes.
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Pickup ( 2016 )
Feature Film Review
The wonders of today's technology. The ability to digitally connect on a global scale has made for some excellent urban legends and stories of hope. The lost child who finds their parents, decades later using social media. The new married couple that owes their happiness to their online interactions. The indie filmmaker who hits pay-dirt online. These urban legends keep us online and tuned in, with dreams of becoming the next heart warming story. Is it addictive? Hell yes. What's not to like about the ability to be someone else online? That person we wish we were? However, we all know the world wide web has a downside as well. A big one. We all know it's causing a massive social disconnect in the real world. The way we act in person is changing, social graces are vanishing and to be honest, in my humble opinion... we're headed for a big mess down the road. Did I mention that road isn't all that long? I would like to write that "Pickup" from director Jeremiah Kipp tackles those scary aspects of our online lives. I would like to write that Jessica Blank, who wrote this story, demonstrates the problems and issues the web presents to us human beings... and it does. Sort of. All the above is present and accounted for, but you see reader, "Pickup" doesn't play off as a traditional story. Rather a diary or narrative. I'll get into that later but for now, let me just write that this title teases us with all those things mentioned above. But that's it. Just a tease. "Pickup" is more like a demonstration piece, which is fine because it's an entertaining one. We know the story and as some quick entertainment, this title delivers. Although just how it delivers will depend on what the viewer takes from it. I could call this a story about Megan, played excellently by Mandy Evans. I could also write it's a story about her husband Ben, or even... dare I say... a narrative on the effects of technology on their child, who loves playing on his tablet beside his Mother, on her phone. I could write all of this, but depending on the eyes watching, could be totally off. It's one of those: You have to see it to get it things. That's the best way to describe it. Honestly? You probably should. As I wrote, overall, I was glued to my screen. It wasn't until things ended I really began to think, and that's not really a bad thing to write now is it? Technically, "Pickup" is a very well done short film. Some nice general camera work and a well recorded audio track all held together with an excellent film edit. The pacing, via the edit itself, keeps things moving quickly and "Pickup" never feels like it lags. Mandy Evans and Jim True-Frost do fantastic jobs leading an excellent supporting cast. This is one of those indie titles that doesn't give itself away with bad acting. Another point for "team" Pickup. My only real concern, was with the story itself. Not in the sense it was bad... rather that it was... well... let's talk about that. Independent film prides itself on allowing the creators to think outside the box. Unique stories done the way "you" want to do it. The problem with "Pickup" is that there really is no story. In the traditional sense anyhow. A start, a middle and an end. The recipe for most narratives. This title doesn't really have that. It's more like one big "start" and really doesn't end anywhere. There's no conclusion that I could see. Things end as they started and everything in between is the same as the former two. I could say this is a cautionary tale. That however, would again imply there was a story progression. In "Pickup" nothing changes, nothing is resolved and it's more like: A day in the life. This is totally fine. As I wrote, this "is" an entertaining movie. It just would have been nice to see some kind of story progression. Not just a title that points out the problems with online technology, or the social "real life" disconnect I mentioned above. We already know that. I would have liked to see what happens next. Did Megan's husband find out exactly what was going on? What happened? What happened with Liam? Did he take after his Mother and end up a tech junkie? Did Megan ever realize that her online inspired meet-ups would never actually make her happy? That her social addiction was actually making things worse? Did she stop? Did it get worse? I never expected all these questions to be answered in a short film, but a hint would have been nice. Or, at least a conclusion to the immediate issues presented in the film. As I wrote, any kind of traditional story structure would have been great. But as a demonstration piece... "Pickup" works. No question about that. So there you have it. My personal thoughts on a solid indie production. As a solely entertaining title it does the trick. You hit play, you're glued to the screen. It's over. Easy-peasy. Overall, this is a well above average film that has earned each and every star. Being equally honest, this is one of those titles I wish was a feature film. Maybe then I could have got a full traditional story. Hell, all the pieces were present and the cast were clearly up to the task. I suppose there is only so much you can cram into fifteen minutes. At least it was time well spent.