Just a note to Jamin Winans. You are no Kurt Vonnegut, my friend.
11:59 is an overconfident, under-thought sci-fi conspiracy thriller that attempts to satirize the news media, while struggling to tell the story it should be telling. Intellectually deficient and emotionally pedestrian, this feature debut from Denver-based filmmaker Winans is a hearty exercise in provincial filmmaking — an exercise that somehow managed to get a DVD release.
The film follows TV news cameraman Aaron (Raymond Andrew Bailey), who has the biggest day of his career chasing down a suspected child murderer. Before the police show up, the suspect, Hastings (Chris Kelly), rambles something about a conspiracy. The conspiracy may involve an upcoming election for the governorship of Colorado.
Later that evening, while celebrating his big day, Aaron has a little time travel experience. He wakes up in a field a day later without having lived through the last 24 hours. But he learns throughout the day what supposedly happened while he was away. At the end of the day, he again blacks out and wakes up in a field. Now he gets to relive that day he missed with the knowledge he needs to prove Hastings's conspiracy theory.
Sure, 11:59 has a solid premise, but Winans's film has the Shyamalan problem — all pitch and no play. It never lives up to the description on the back of the DVD, a plot summary that is more fun to ponder on your own than to actually see in action.
I honestly wasn't sure if I was going to go that far with my criticism considering 11:59 is an independent film from a first time feature director. Then I saw Winans's short film Spin, loaded on the 11:59 DVD as an extra. Spin isn't a good movie, per say, but it is a better amateur effort than 11:59.
11:59 doesn't fine tune the work I saw in Spin. In fact, the feature lacks Spin's momentum. Any additional momentum may have kept an audience's attention long enough to get to the more eventful parts of 11:59. If you do remain interested, the last third of Winans's feature can be very watchable, but only if you ignore the ham-fisted characterization and bogus time travel narrative from the early parts of the film.
- Commentary by Director and Cinematographer
- Interviews with Director, Lead Actor, Producer and Director of Photography
- Short Film Spin with Commentary