Film Review: Lilt

Pace is an important aspect to any film, and one that can make or break it’s effectiveness, however it is also something that can be played with and manipulated to create something unusual and intriguing. This is what we find with Lilt.

The film opens with dramatic orchestral music. Heavy and fast. Despite this the imagery and narrative we are offered is slow burner that focuses on relationships and interactions rather than what we may expect from the soundtrack. It’s a tricky tool to use, as it is all too easy for the soundtrack to juxtapose the narrative and cause it to jar, yet in this instance it works. It displays the female protagonists inner frustration and confusion whilst on the outside she is calm and sedate.

Imagery plays an important part within the film, and despite having minimal locations they are used to great effect. The background imagery of a dance class showing unified movements along with the art class studio interspersing the story with images of art being created offer an interesting contrast to the dialogue.

The dialogue is carefully constructed. Whilst not being believable in terms of everyday conversations, it’s flowing poetry make it suitable for this context. IT is well delivered and words appear to be chosen carefully to portray the point whilst remaining quite beautiful.

The film is simple in it’s construct, yet effective. It is well edited and directed which gives it a feeling of ease and simplicity whilst remaining intriguing and clever. An interesting film that explores the intricacies of relationships, especially those that are unrequited, and the effect that can have on an individual.

Film Review: The All American Don

Business and family often go together, either because they are truly one part of the other or because of the negative impact a business life can have over the home and the ones living in it. When the determination of the one doing the business is too big, a small crack can start dividing things, and end up huge as a rift that none of the parts will cross again until they die. Many famous families are also known because of these issues, and where there is money involved, the attacks can get a lot more dangerous. The problem is, these attacks are not often directed to other members of the family, but to oneself. Hurting myself I hurt the ones that love me. Drugs and broken promises can do that to a group of people, even if their love is deep as the ocean.

The hardships of the business life can bring a man down to his knees or make them fly over everyone else in the world. It is worth it, going through such a struggle, but not everyone can come out of it a victor. Many things have to be given up, many times children will be ignored, many times control will be lost, but the end goal, greatness, will be achieved no matter what. Don has to win, has to prevail even if his demons are mostly inside of him. Because life can come easy to those who work hard, but when one stops being a robot and gives in to unnecessary pleasures and desires of the body, being focused on the balance between family and business can become hell.

Not many people get to live this in their own home, business is common, but not the successful kind, and being together is the most important thing. But when the very core of it (the love and trust of the parents) starts to crack, the rest will fall fast and sure, like a jenga game between drunk friends. And if the sons of this broken love are older, get ready, because experience tends to show us it can get very The Godfather-y very quick. This reflection of the powerful family, led by a powerful man can seem strange to the rest of us, but it’s a real struggle that some in this world have to face.

Even if a story told about oneself is often enhanced, embiggened, and decorated, the life of Don Abraham is shown with every raw detail showcased with pride. Not many, even after a successful career, will be at peace with their own personal demons. A human with this kind of thirst needs to be comfortable with doing things others wouldn’t hesitate to condemn. Even the lowest lows make the highest highs worth it, and and as a spectator the result can only be inspiring. Not everyone will be willing to do what Don Abram Harris has done, but if they walk out of this short with a strong determination to succeed and find a place amongst the great ones, it will have been worth it.

Film Review: Yesterday’s Rain

LGBT themed projects are popular right now, and in the current political climates with such uncertainty it’s important to continue to see a strong much diversity within media a day possible. However, a flooding of films on the same topic can often produce overlap and repetition.

Here we see a film that has focused its efforts purely in its own story. No agenda or finger to ‘the man’. Even it’s locations are almost entirely enveloping giving the sense that the characters are in their own world. This clever details mirrors many young people’s journey through coming out, which can often feel completely isolating.

What is interesting about this film, and what works particularly well is the minimal dialogue. There is dialogue, but it isn’t the deep or meaningful dialogue you would expect. Instead, the real emotion and communication with the audience is embedded in the nuances of the protagonists body language. The silences in this film carry much more wieght of story than any of the dialogue and works as a visual representation of the internalisation of emotion that many of us went through during this time.

This film works particularly well for people who have been through this journey as it is very relatable in its storytelling. It is also very refreshing to see a female lead struggling to come out rather than the much more common male protagonist.

Well thought out and impressively constructed, the film uses clever techniques to portray its message in ways more than dialogue. With admirable performances from both leads, a beautifully constructed score and soundtrack, this film is a delight for viewers.

Film Review: A Hero for A Day

It’s not a light subject, a school shooting. Many have stained America’s history from the last decades and still do. Even if the rest of the world is not used to being witness to events like these at their own homes, the suffering of common people in any country can make others cringe in fear and sadness thousands of miles away. Even through the pain, a positive look towards this tragedies can still be taken: the possibility of recovery before an attack or emotional containment for the bullied is always a good thing. Tragic events often come with great lessons that, if heeded, can help avoid bad situations in the future and ensure some social safety for the younger citizens.

A comedic view on this subject can definitely make some people uncomfortable, but as the plot of A Hero For A Day develops, a useful and positive message can be found. Even if the motivations of the main character are weak (usually violent students are tormented heavily and at a very young age), the funny approach is visible from the first 10 seconds of the short. Even if this is a questionable way of depicting a tense situation like this one, there is definitely not a bad intention behind it. On the contrary, the tendency to show the demonized character that is the shooter as a guy who just got his buttons pushed too often can help bring a kinder eye on The Bullied and in consequence, make them easier to approach.

With the success 13 Reasons Why has had in the month after its release, the spotlight is definitely focused on school attendees and their behaviour around their peers and at home. This will resonate positively with the problematics brought up on A Hero For a Day.

Much of this optimistic take on a bullying victim is expressed through the colors and soundtrack of the short. This is definitely intentional and was achieved perfectly. It will remind the viewer of past comedy works like Guy Ritchie’s Snatch or a more recent The Hangover. The messy ways of the protagonist, the literally colorful scenery and the figuratively colorful supporting characters make this more of a realized teenage fantasy than a piece of social comment, but the mastery with which it was assembled shows great creative potential in the hands of Lifan Wang and Shannon Brunetti.

Even with a big budget and great technical tools, we are short of directors that can show good understanding of the basic rules of filmmaking and a great variety of pleasant aesthetic choices. This is very well accompanied by the work of the actors. The mood tone of the short varies greatly from start to finish, and the performances make the viewer slide easily between one (a very tense and dangerous situation) and the the other (a funny environment), back and forth before the very positive ending sequence. Comedy works perfectly, a the presence of Rage makes it much more effective. A hint of determination was needed to bring our hero to the front line, for better or worse, and finding that strength within is also a fun detail.

It would be wise to keep an eye on Lifan Wang’s future projects, but for now taking a look to his past productions will definitely keep us entertained.

Film Review: Chains of Freedom

School can be hell for kids. Even in this day and age, even with so many commodities, attention and specialized teachers, it can be traumatizing. Regular school, with all its benefits, with all its ups and downs, is still a source of stress and uneasiness, and some students deal with it better than others. So imagine this same situation, but in a place where the only adult figures are authoritative, angry and cruel. Not all teachers are this way, but in the eyes of a child things like these can get blown out of proportion really quickly. In a setting that reminds us of wartime education, the reaction of these children, even being improbable, can still shake some feelings in the viewer, reminding them of other anecdotes related to these tragic and violent global events.

Situations of sacrifice and loss are all around the world, closer to us in time and space than we like to think about. Serious matters like death or death by one’s own hand are much more frequent that anyone would like to, and in a place where people are not taken care of, the number rises greatly. Education is not only about books or skills, it’s also about personal growth and social interaction. These things should not be ignored, especially at a very young age. In a very cruel and dumb move, the Headmistress forgets or chooses to forget this very basic thing of education, either because of the needs of the times or a very hostile personality. Her students feel isolated and alienated, and find in each other a comfort the Headmistress kills off like a weed in a beautiful garden. What she forgets is that these relationships are supposed what makes the garden beautiful.

It’s hard to understand what happens in the mind of a child. Some things are clear, some make adults stare cluelessly and label their behaviour as silly, but every action from their part has a purpose. The very adult decision the children in Chains of Freedom make is a consequence of many things, but without going too deep, many of them can be identified and their reflections noticed in real life relationships. Hopefully this will change the way the viewers deal with harsh themes and the way these situations can impact a the life of a child.

While it is a piece mainly acted by children, the value in Chains of Freedom is really found in the plot. That’s why the amateur level of the young actors does not go against the quality of the film, no matter what people say. Innocence can’t be acted if the performer doesn’t have any: this only adds to the feeling of reality shown. No other choice would have been better.

In a short like this, the credibility of the setting is very important. Not only an extra effort is noticeable as to costumes, but also to set dressing. It’s not often that a team Chains of Freedom creates an entire atmosphere with such ease, as palpable as another character. Many will say it’s just clothing, furniture and hair styling, but the care with which these elements were controlled shows great expertise, attention to detail and love for the art. This is a very valuable attitude towards filmmaking, one that viewers should experiment a little more often.

Film Review: Mirror

Quite often the most simple of films portray the deepest meanings and the most honest explorations. Within this short film, we see on what of these films. One young girl in a bathroom seems on the surface like not much of a film, yet once you start scratching the surface you begin to see the different levels and layers to both the character and the film.

The level of emotion and understanding of mental health is astounding in such a short film. To show the differences between what we display to the world and what we privately display to ourselves is deftly articulated. Alongside this we see the internal struggle between emotions and the tug of war many individuals dealing with mental ill health have to face in a daily basis.

Aside from the fantastic construction and narrative, the performance of the young actress is admirable. To be able to portray such intense and raw emotion without any dialogue and very short screen time displays a connection the art and to the character she is portraying.

The film displays adept and impressive film making skills from editing, make up right through to direction. When all aspects of producing a film come together the result should can. E exciting, and this is what we are seeing here. A raw and emotional piece of film that is a testament to the cast and crew and their abilities.

Film Review: Pierrot

Pierrot couldn’t be a more apt title for this film. The idea of a sad clown, a juxtaposition in one body. The idea that the mask on the outside hides something much different within. Here, we see that idea explored in more modern terms.

Whilst the film portrays itself as a simple film in terms of locations, music, dialogue and production, underneath it is actually an intricate and multi-layered exploration of the human psyche. An expedition into how not only do our masks hide our inner desires and emotions, but masks can also allow us to fulfil those desires and be someone we are too afraid to be without it.

The narrative is incredibly well constructed, with clever and minimal dialogue. What drives this film is the actions of its characters. Their interactions and reactions are what tell the story, rather than their speech. This in itself makes for a much more intense and thought provoking visual experience.

Whilst the production is low budget, this actually enhances the appeal of the film as it further highlights the plot devices that are used and the story itself. The use of music is underplayed yet effective, enhancing the emotion in each scene.

A beautifully constructed and executed film that subverts its own simplistic mask to reveal a detailed humanistic exploration.