Wednesday, July 20, 2022

A Review of "Unconformity" - A New Indie Film Featuring an Impressive Geology Theme

As a geologic educator who has been around since the latter quarter of the 20th Century (read 'ancient'), I occasionally receive requests to review books, articles and now, films, that contain geologic themes. On July 11 of this year, I received an email asking if I would be interested in watching a new film and writing a review on this blog. I was skeptical at first but then I watched the film's opening and was hooked. That's what I call a good opening (described below). FYI - I am receiving no compensation of any kind in making this review.

Now I do not claim to be any kind of a bonafide film critic and I have virtually no idea what to look for in reviewing a film. My wife is much more talented than I in seeing beyond the mere visuals of a film. I typically need every ounce of my energy just to keep up with the storyline and often need to ask her, 'which character is that'? (Let's not even discuss the plot or who is likely the villain in a "who dun it" film). 

Still, when Director Jonathan DiMaio allowed me to view his film, I found myself taken in by the story. I'm sure the primary reason is because of its geologic theme. Second perhaps is the side-story of public lands issues and the ways rural ranchers relate to the Bureau of Land Management. Third is because of the great acting that Alex Oliver presented, depicting a young PhD candidate struggling with issues of identity, purpose, and some of the darker aspects of academia. 

Actress Alex Oliver examines the Ediacaran fossil Dickinsonia after discovering it in Nevada. Director Jonathan DiMaio used this fossil, to date only found in Australia, to depict an original scientific discovery in the plot of the film.

The trailer for the film can be viewed here and gives just a few hints of the Basin and Range scenery that I felt could have been used more prominently in the full-length feature (I'm a sucker for landscapes depicted in film). One of the scenes shows a close-up of what I believe is the Ordovician Eureka Quartzite. Another is of a beautiful, tilted stack of central Nevada limestone. I would have loved to see more of that imagery sprinkled throughout the film but it is nonetheless there in short clips. Early Paleozoic limestone anyone?

What initially drew me into the film was the opening credits where thin sections are shown rotating in cross-polarized light. Anyone who has ever taken an optical mineralogy class will view these opening scenes with remembrances of those fantastic, shifting colors. Non-geologists may be confused about what that imagery represents, but it is colorful and I found it mesmerizing. I was hooked from these scenes forward.

Which makes me wonder, will those who are not geoscientists be attracted to the film? There is a human story that is at the heart of the film that I would summarize as youth trying to find their way in a confusing world. Maybe there is some appeal to the film in that aspect. I was swept away in the film by the geologic theme, used as a backdrop to this human drama. If you do watch the film, and I recommend that you do for a mere $3 on Amazon, please let me know what you think.

As of now, the movie is available to rent in the US. You can find it on Amazon. Toward the end of the year, it will be available worldwide (except for a few autocracies) on various platforms, some of which are "free" and ad driven. 

When was the last time the Neoproterozoic was featured in an American film? Let's go to the movies!