With a nod to APOCALYPSE NOW in the very beginning and some easy parallels made to Chinatown throughout, 8 WINDS goes big with its cinema influences.
Directed and written by Dan Coplan, 8 WINDS takes the hard-nosed crime drama and adds a dash of humor to it. The idea of Russian oligarchs controlling the California water supply in a global bid for power sounds like a James Bond-ian villain scheme but is entirely plausibly with how today’s world is running. The James Bond villain comparison is apt because 8 WINDS also stars a notable Bond villain, LICENSE TO KILL’s Robert Davi as a reclusive billionaire that Coplan’s character needs to track down for an interview.
Using a noir setup of tonal/instrumental music and narrative voiceover sets the pace for this film, which builds on itself over time. Those familiar with Los Angeles will recognize a few locations, including the Dances With Films film festival featured in the beginning. There’s a lot of “inside baseball” to this movie that if you know, you know. It doesn’t necessarily mean you need to live the Hollywood life in order to get the plot, it’s just a pleasant bonus for those of us that do or did in the past. There’s also a great scene set against the May Day march used as a backdrop for a chase scene that opens the movie up nicely and gives it a scope larger than its budget.
Dan Coplan acts in this movie too, doing what he does best in his role as an aging film director striving to stay relevant in an increasingly technology-driven world. From a story-perspective this movie is begging for a big budget treatment but does well with the resources at hand.
The movie isn’t without its faults. There’s a stark difference in the filmed scenes and the stock inserts. There was some sort of stuttering and jerkiness to the cinematography that I want to blame on the screener I watched, but it might have been intentional either because of budget, or style choice. There are times when the stuttering cinematography works in the movie’s favor, giving some scenes an ethereal feel. Lastly, the pacing is tough. Even as the movie strives to build tension and admittedly is dealing with heady story points, the first twenty minutes feels like sitting through an hour. The acting is hit or miss and is sometimes hampered by the shot choices in the editing.
That isn’t to say that the movie isn’t satisfying. It has some great themes and the payoffs in the end come together well. It’s easy to see that Coplan is a talented storyteller but may have had too much to do on this movie to really cut it down to size (Coplan also served as editor). As a lower budget indie film, it makes the most of what it can in each scene. The audio is fine overall. Any abnormalities can be slotted into the genre its working within.
You could spend double the movie’s runtime analyzing it for political subtext, movie references, and motifs of 8 WINDS. It’s deeper than the plot lets on. The director wants the audience to think about this movie long after they’ve exited the theater or turned off their TVs.
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