AW Kautzer's Film Review Fantastic Fest Film

So Unreal: Fantastic Fest 2023 

So Unreal

Co-writer/Director Amanda Kramer creates a stylish ode to the cyber-cinema of the last forty years with So Unreal narrated by Blondie and Videodrome’s own Debbie Harry no less.  Playing at Fantastic Fest 2023.  

There is something so unusually beautiful, unsettling, and marvelous about Amanda Kramer’s So Unreal.  Rather than just documenting the A-B-Cs of cyber cinema in all its various forms, Kramer and co-writer Britt Brown have created a Documentary that is as much art as it is informational.  

The film itself is steeped in the visuals of the formative years of the genre.  The first few minutes are almost experimental with Harry’s voice expounding on the allure and dangers of computer tech, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and more.  Glimpses of images from the titans of science fiction that dwell within these corridors are edited together with the forgotten cult oddities alongside their own visual information.  The opening sets the milieu, the understanding that this exploration will be as much art and informational.  

If one hasn’t noticed, So Unreal, is not your average documentary, and is better for it.  Rather than creating a checklist of films, Kramer – using Harry as our guide – takes us into the various avenues and evolution of tech and how filmmakers aligned with that tech (for good or bad).  Divided into 6 Chapters and covering well over 30 films the film never feels rushed or abbreviated there isn’t an avenue of cyber-cinema the documentary doesn’t cover.  

The bit of brilliance comes in what Kramer and Brown have decided to focus their documentary on.  Yes, the film details the importance of films like The Matrix, TronHackers and the like.  The real genius comes in the doc giving as much space and dissection to truly delirious ditties like Ghost in the MachineElectric Dreams, and Mindwarp amongst others.  So Unreal, understands that the mosaic isn’t complete unless these films are discussed and tied to the greater evolution of cyber-based storytelling and real-life cyber-evolution.  

The biggest surprise is how Kramer’s documentary finds reflected in our current era of unsteady relationships with evolving tech in the pillars of the genre as she does in the forgotten cult oddities.  So Unreal is as much a great non-fiction storytelling as it is a sophisticated piece of pop art much like many of the films it covers.  

So Unreal is playing Fantastic Fest 2023 on 09/22 and 09/25

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