Film Review: Sick in Africa

The documentary opens with an upbeat piece of traditional music that is juxtaposed to the on screen text which talks of pain and suffering of the residents of the African town we are in. We focus on one elderly resident who has lived through some horrendous times.

sickinafrica-webposterNow, this man faces sickness, and in a country where education and medicine is minimal this can be much more serious than in other countries. This is the topic of this film. It focuses on the issues related to being ill in a country where resources are minimal. Here there are still many who believe in spirits and other worldly reasons for suffering, for which there are home medicines and treatments.

This film is immensely intriguing for those that are not familiar with this area of the world as it explores a culture that is not readily understood. This particular topic is dealt with through the eyes of a number of residents of the area who offer unique perspectives on the issues surrounding being ill in this part of the world.

The music offers a traditional soundtrack as we navigate the different areas surrounding the original location and get different perspectives on healthcare. This keeps an upbeat feel to a topic that could easily be all too depressing.
The film is well edited using simple cuts and well placed animations to demonstrate travelling between locations. The interviews have been edited together in a linear fashion that gives the piece an actual story that is tense and heart breaking at times .

Sick in Africa provides an insight into healthcare in circumstances that many of us have never, and will never, experience. It helps to provide an understanding and sympathy to a culture that many have little knowledge of.

A well-produced documentary that utilises its material effectively to provide a piece that appeals to audiences and utilises a particular character to bring the audience in and gets them to invest in the film.

Film Review: The Weekend

The introduction to this film is one filled with intrigue and questions, which is exactly how a film should open. You immediately want to know why these characters are in the situation they are in. A number of quick jump cuts brings the audience to the main body of the film without masses of irrelevant exposition.

the-weekend-poster-webWe are then thrown into a poignant and affectionate character study of these two characters, each experiencing their own different yet similar pains and struggles. They come together and despite being strangers they form a bond and begin to help each re-discover who they are.

What is striking about this film is the distinct lack of extended dialogue. There are conversations, but the real meaning, the real heart comes from the actions of the characters. How they interact with each other and how they respond to each other, which at times is purely beautiful.

The editing is strong, even the jump cuts do not feel over used and don’t distract from the action or bring the audience out of the film. The subtle but effective use of music adds to the mood of the film and changes to reflect the scene with barely noticeable synergy.

The performances are a pleasure to watch with real variables in terms of emotions and reactions. The characters are tangible and bounce off each other with ease and at times raw emotion that makes your heart skip a beat. A true delight to watch and a testament to the human condition.

The Weekend draws you in as a story about heartache and pain and leaves you feeling uplifted and ready to go out and offer food to a stranger. It breaks you down to lift you right back up. An impressive display of film making.

Film Review: Two Faces

Dark. Foreboding. Unnerving. The three words that sum up the opening of this film and set the tone for what is to come. The sharp and metallic music adds to the fear inducing atmosphere and tension as disturbing images flash across the screen leaving us wondering what the hell just happened.

tfsmxTwo Faces opens with a dramatic and disconcerting set of images, then moves into a calming ocean view that brings the audience back down off the tension filled cloud it placed them on. We are then shown a world far from the one we are introduced with. A juxtaposition of love, happiness and bright colours. Then we are again flung back into a world of fear, pain and darkness.

What Two Faces manages to do very well is link two very opposing images and atmospheres and provide a linear plot line despite using two different timelines. This is achieved by utilising very different colour palates along with a distinctive sound to go with each separate timeline. The tense and sharp music used within the dark scenes is much different from the calming and melodic music used in the brighter scenes.

This achievement in film making is also more impressive as it has no dialogue. The emotions and fears that the film evokes are done purely with music and the physicality of the characters. It is a testament to the actors and writers that this work so well on screen. The fact that the audience can still invest in characters that have no dialogue or obvious personality shows how well the story is written and how well directed the film is over all.

The film leaves you somewhat devastated yet fulfilled. The outcome is one that not only touches the heart with love, but breaks it with pain. Beautifully constructed and written with pure emotion. No words are needed to display the sheer sentiment within this film. Stunning.

Film Review: For Lucy

From the first scene the tension of this film is introduced. The fell of the film is set up from the off which immediately draws in the audience. The three main characters are introduced immediately and it is obvious there is a tension within this small family unit. The immediate problem facing them appears to overshadow a world of other problems that this fractured family seem to face. Here, subtext is sued well.

screen_shot_2016-08-02_at_1-18-55_pmDespite the tensions within the girl’s parents, their love for their daughter is obvious and her fear is what brings them together to make her one last wish come true. It may appear superficial to others, but they know this one task will make her happy in what may be her final hours. Now we feel the fathers pain and tension as he rushes to get back to the hospital in time to see his daughter before her surgery.

There is a lot of pain in this film. A lot of unresolved pain that bubbles under the surface, exploding every so often in frustration and urgency. The father’s performance is charged and as an audience you cannot help but will him on. The character has a naivety that is charming but also a passion and drive that is admirable.

Strong editing makes this a pleasure to watch. The cuts and continuity are spot on without any glaring errors that distract from the film. Minimal use of music helps the audience focus on the speech and performance which works well to help the audience bond with the characters. What also makes this film intriguing is that there is no closure in terms of the outcome of the daughter’s operation. In actual fact, we see this film is not about the daughter’s operation, it is about a father who risks losing everything doing one small task to bring some joy to a daughter that m=he may never see again. As a concept alone it is somewhat beautiful, and this film embraces that beauty and runs with it.

Film Review: Orange

Orange starts with a truly intriguing image which grabs the audience straight away. The intrigue is only enhanced by the sudden switch into a sultry blues song. This juxtaposition is a pretty apt image for this film. The film moves quickly from plot point to plot which keeps the viewer on their toes. Each image is provocative in its own right which results in a film that is exciting and daring.

13411980_1723039887951534_8966416836517195692_oThe film focuses on the turbulent relationship between the two main characters. Both appear unhappy and unfulfilled in their life choices and the relationship is poisonous. The male appears to do his utmost to sabotage the relationship, including rape and obvious masturbation whilst his other half is in the house. Orange deals with very humanistic issues and dares to reveal what happens behind closed doors.

Within the film there are moments that are full of impact and evoke a myriad of emotions. The director appears to have had a strong focus on artistry and the result is that these disturbing and sometimes heart wrenching moments are presented in a fashion that is visually pleasing, evoking an interesting juxtaposition of emotions. The noiresque presentation of Orange aids the stylistic presentation, and helps to provide dramatic imagery.

The performances on the whole are strong and in parts the pure emotion of the performance is admirable. The early scene performance of the blues song is atmospheric and impressive and turns out to be the best part of the film. It is also the most misleading, providing an impression of a film that is far-fetched from the one it is actually providing the opening for. It lulls the audience into a false sense of security which enhances the shock value of the following scenes.

Orange shows skill and potential in terms of visual production there is a strong focus on the stylistic visuals. There is room to improve in terms of plot and character development, yet the film is affecting and daring.

Film Review: Best Friends

Zombies have been the flavour of the decade and have always held a special place in many film buff’s hearts. They have come in all guises from horror, thriller, drama and comedy down to outright farce. Best Friends offers yet another incarnation of the zombie film, and it actually does display some originality, which is tricky in a genre that is so over-represented. Especially in indie film makers.

BestFriends_POSTERIf you want to understand the over-all ‘feel’ of Best Friends, think Shaun of the Dead. In fact, this film could easily follow on from where Shaun of the Dead finishes where we see the bond between two male friends transcend zombie transformation. In Best Friends we see two office workers who are also long term best friends as one of them falls ill at work. As it transpires, his illness is in fact a zombie virus. The friend then attempts to protect and help his friend, despite him running rampage around the office.

What Best Friends does very well is provide a believable and tangible friendship between the two lead characters, despite one of them having less than twenty words of dialogue. Despite this the bond between the two is heart-warming and cheering.

The writing within the film is strong. The film builds gradually and the comedic element within the scripting is subtle yet effective. The film utilises both vocal comedy and physical/environmental comedy in order to provide a film that is laugh out loud at points.
Aside from the comedy, the film displays an aptitude for costuming and make up that is admirable. Not only is the zombie make-up impressive but there is also a subtlety to the physical elements that goes a long way. The film doesn’t go over the top in terms of gore and it holds on tight to its comedy roots.

Best Friends is a well-made, well written and well executed film that explores the often underrated bond that links male friends. With excellent performances and impressive production Best Friends is a blood filled delight for audiences that enjoy their zombie’s with a side order of heart.

Film Review: Cimarron Spirit

From the outset this film is bold and bright. From the music to the colourful outfits you cannot help but be drawn to the screen. Drawn to a way of life and a celebration that is so far removed from many of our lives.

Poster_CimarronaThis is the strength of this documentary piece. It doesn’t just focus on a geographical location. It focuses on a people. It looks at their history and their historical journey as a population through the eyes and experiences of a variety of people within the community. As the film focuses on the Cimarron celebrations the audience are treated to an insight into the cultures religious and mythological belief systems and the emphasis that is put on legends and myths within a society that has magic within its belief system.

The mixture of various celebrations and different aspects of the celebrations works well to provide different perspectives of the Cimarron and the variety of legends that surround them. This in turn provides a much stronger and more fulfilling narrative to the documentary. The different viewpoints make the documentary much more interesting and intriguing.

The bright colours along with evocative imagery are edited well to provide a visual feast that fits well with the voice over interviews and information that is being provided. Despite the wealth of information that is being provided the film feels streamlined and well organised. At no point does it feel mixed up or unorganised. This is a testament to the hard work of the film makers.

This documentary is a fascinating insight into a culture whose belief system is far removed from Western culture, yet these communities embrace their myths and legends and come together to celebrate them. The film makers have effectively pulled together a wealth of information and formed a documentary that effectively tells the story of a legend and how it is perceived by modern society.
A strong film that is well put together and well researched. Whilst the topic may not be of interest to everyone the film itself provides an entertaining and informative journey into a little known culture.