Logos is an independent film directed and co-written by first-time director Michael Sorokorensky. It’s a new film for 2013 — so new, in fact, that as of this writing I can’t even give it a star rating on its IMDb page. Its official video release date according to IMDb is June 11, but it has already been released on Amazon Instant Video and possibly other sources as well. The story concerns James Carroll (played by Sorokorensky’s co-writer Paul Hine), a computer science student who has become obsessed with finding a mathematical formula for certainty since his father’s death in the 9/11 terrorism attack.
Though the film is new for this year, the footage apparently is not. Reportedly Sorokorensky shot the film over the course of four months, and then spent nearly 10 years editing it, feeling that it was unwatchable in its original form and making digital alterations in post-production. I obviously can’t vouch for how the original footage looked, but I have to say the final result isn’t all that great either.
Either he’s overly fond of the blur filter, or he needs to clean his camera lens.
The film is almost constantly out of focus, with bright spots providing a glowing effect in some scenes. When James daydreams in one scene, it’s represented with primitive computer-generated cel-shaded animation. There are occasional inserts of logos with symbolic meaning during the film, and a scene where the perspective is placed behind the monitor of a computer that James is working on, so the audience is looking out the computer at its user. There’s a highly experimental feel to the film, and people who like movies with an “art for art’s sake” ethos may find it appealing in that regard. Other people are likely to find it harder to get into, however — both because of the visual style and the narrative.
The combined result of all the visual effects of the film is that it has a very pronounced dreamlike quality to it. This is likely intentional, as James exists in a dreamlike state for most of the film. Apparently always a loner, James has become particularly detached since the death of his father. He doesn’t speak to people except for very basic words — though the audience is provided with verbose narration from him. He’s withdrawn, a loner, working in isolation and obsession. The film does give the audience some credit by not spelling out his motivations right from the beginning; it reveals things slowly, and the audience is left to piece things together for themselves. This is perhaps the main virtue of the storytelling, although it isn’t a very strong virtue, as even the sleepiest viewer will be able to piece things together from James’s constant narration. The movie itself is indeed rather dreamlike: hazy, a bit disjointed, occasionally surreal, but mostly banal.
Is he awake or sleepwalking, and does it really matter?
There simply isn’t anything here for people to attach to. James’s grief is understandable, as is his desire for certainty, but this is not the same as being interesting. Logos wisely devotes little time to his actual project, as watching somebody program is tedious even — or should I say especially — for programmers, but James and his narration are equally dull. While his emotional turmoil at least has a solid root to it, the narration is the same faux-philosophical rambling that one can hear dozens of times in any high school creative writing class. It is neither novel nor interesting. There is some plot development and resolution — with the film being only an hour long I had some concerns on that front as I got further into it — but it’s difficult to feel particularly moved by it when the lead character is so difficult to care about. Paul Hine, who like most of the cast has no other film roles, is quite believable as the depressive recluse. Believability isn’t the problem here; lifelessness is.
And the other characters aren’t going to help out here, as this is strictly a film about James. It verges on a one-man play, actually, with other roles being very minor. His roommate Harrison (Ted Carr) seems like a normal individual, if a bit of a “frat boy” mentality (but then, they are in college), and tries to get James to interact with people. What plot development there is mostly springs from this, but it feels underdeveloped; it amounts to one event, and has the same sleepwalking feel as the rest of the film. Ultimately the “get someone to come out of their shell” plot has been done many, many times before and nearly all of those instances have more of an emotional charge to them. Sara Alcorn, another first-time actor, is present as the character Meg, but she literally has nothing to do here but stand and look pretty; her character exists solely for James to stare at from a distance. There’s also a scene involving Melanie Uhlir as the Dean, establishing James’s academic problems due to his focus on his project. Uhlir seems the least stiff of the limited supporting cast, and there’s the potential for an interesting subplot here, but again it’s not really dealt with. There are potential hooks of interest throughout the film, but none of them are dealt with in any interesting way at all.
90% of her role could have been filled by a mannequin.
Being an independent film about a recluse who seeks stability through mathematics, filmed with experimental techniques, anybody who has seen both is likely to draw a comparison between Logos and Darren Aronofsky’s π. The two films have a similar feel to them in addition to the similar themes. But I wasn’t all that fond of π, and Logos doesn’t improve on the formula much — although I’m grateful for the lack of ear-bleeding sound effects. The experimental shots, just as with Aronofsky’s film, don’t really add enough to the film to warrant the eye fatigue. The protagonist is just as difficult to care about, and any potential in the plot is even more undeveloped. I can’t even credit Logos with being unique.
Being an independent film that doesn’t appear to be slated for a theatrical release, it’s likely that most people will completely overlook Logos. In this case, they’re not missing much.