Short film Review: LEGAL SMUGGLING with CHRISTINE CHOY

Legal Smuggling

Creators: Noah and Lewie KlosterContributor: Christine Choy

Aesthetically the Sundance 2017 nominated film, Legal Smuggling, composed almost entirely of cut and paste illustrations, looks innocent enough. However all of this dissipates within seconds when the film’s subject and glorious narrator, Christine Choy, begins to regale the story of her relationship with cigarettes and her determination to sustain her love for smoking by doing the extreme – flying a few thousand miles to get them cheaper.  I’m loathe to use the term addiction (though, yes this is what this is) because the way Choy talks about her beloved twenty-pack of Benson & Hedges is a poetic, unashamed and unapologetic confession. 

With Choy’s unique gravelly voice and the Kloster brothers’ perfectly imperfect visuals, the audience is  guided through a succinct story that really kicks off during Choy’s teen years; from leaving the ‘Orient’ to ending up in an all girls’ Catholic school in North America. Choy does what any teenager does to adapt in new surroundings, follow the trend but for an all East Asian girl living in a time where all-white Hollywood stars are idolised and smoking is in vogue, a young Choy is limited in the ways in which she can adapt. It’s a humorous retelling, fast-forward to a trip to Canada, the charismatic and sharp narrator points to this as one of the only downsides to her escapade (there’s nothing to do in Canada… bleurgh!)

We’re treated then to a tense climax in Choy’s story, when her seemingly seamless plan faces one glaring obstacle, airport customs and security. And without giving the ending away, one thing is certain, this final act is a worthy wrap to a consistently thrilling production. 

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***OSCARS SHORTLISTED*** REVIEW: SING {MINDENKI}

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Director/Writer: Kristof Deák | Producer:Anna Udvardy  | DOP:Róbert Maly | Composer: Adam Balázs | Cast: Zsófia Szamos, Dorottya Hais and Dorka Gáspárfalvi

Sing is a beautiful dance between indie cinema realism and feel-good Hollywood charm that is hard to capture in any feature let alone a short film. This Hungarian language film is shortlisted for an Academy Award and it’s clear to see why.

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REVIEW: WHERE THE WOODS END [AM ENDE DER WALD]

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Director: Felix Ahrens | Writer (s):Lucas Flasch, Felix Ahrens |  Producer: David Nienhold | Cast: Tom Keune, Henrike von Kuick and Anna Schinz.

Where the Woods End  is a student film, but let not the negative connotations, many of which nowadays are unfounded, deter you from this taster directed by writer/director Felix Aherns. Already an award winner (Silver student academy award) this film,  directed by Felix Ahrens (one to watch, of course) and co-written with Lucas Flasch (probably best to watch these two for future collaborations) this is a seriously nice bit of suspense drama.

We’re introduced to Armin (Tom Keune) and his somewhat impulsive partner Elke, a thirty-something police woman who, in the midst of a police chase and possible drugs bust of two suspected Czech nationals, makes a split second decision that results in a fatal consequence. The film immediately throws up the old but enthralling observation of life’s unpredictability, the grey area associated with human sensibility – how every second presents choices that can impact our lives in . Suspended from work but unable to wait out her sentence, Elke descends into pit concocted of self-pity, guilt and her inherent need to piece together any loose ends that may justify her actions, at best bring some closure.  When she doesn’t receive it, it’s her desperate and blatant arrogance that leads her into an even more woeful situation. Henrike Von Kuick in the lead role, is a bewitching vision. With her large ice blue eyes taking up most of her face, almost all of her emotions are played out through a suspicious flicker, glassy stare and wide-eyed and fear-stricken peepers. She’s a worthy lead, one that could perhaps draw comparison to the crime thriller leads Sara Lund and Saga Norén, all similar in their very human, very flawed characteristics: being workaholics and single women of a certain age.

Equally wonderful is Anna Schinz as Carolina the sister of one of the suspects; she’s a complex and interesting character, empathetic in her anger towards Elke but similarly blinded by her own sense of justification makes a split second decision that in turn comes full circle to ruin Elke’s life too.

Opening up on a stunning, if not a little ominous birds-eye-view of a dense woodland on the German/Czech border, it’s never revealed what kind of film this is going to be from the off. That’s fine, because throughout thirty minutes of suspenseful thrills we’re treated to (in no particular order) a character driven; psychological and in part, horror film with a little revenge thriller (a theme still so popular in today’s contentious unjust world) for good measure. It totally works, all of it and admittedly it’s a wonder, seeing as this is a short film, it doesn’t feel rushed and doesn’t particularly leave the audience (well not this one anyway) feeling unsatisfied or even needing to see more. It’s a neatly packaged engrossing bit of film, well acted and masterfully shot and cut.

REVIEW: AN ENTANGLEMENT

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Director: Dylan Sandford | Writer: Yancy Berns| Producer: | Cast: Shiri Appleby; Gary Wolf and Sean Bell

Short film. It’s perhaps one of the hardest formats in the film and TV industry – be it independent or with a mainstream studio backing – nothing can take away from the stronghold limitations that time vs content presents. Dylan Sanford’s An Entanglement, is a brilliant example of  the good that can come about when the above constraints are mastered impressively.

When a strange man (Sean Bell) approaches Violet (Shiri Appleby) in a conspicuously public place, he makes a shocking reveal: he has been hired by her seemingly loving husband, Rick (Gary Wolf) to murder her. But the man offers Violet an alternative: pay double the rate and the man will redirect the contract back on her plotting spouse. Presented with this information, will she choose self-preservation at the cost of everything she knows? And how can she truly trust this man? Where will this deadly liaison end?

It’s a thriller, with plenty of thrills and an injection of dark humour due to the absurd divisiveness between the characters in the story. Do married couples really get to a point of wanting to kill each other? Of course, but perhaps not since Ashley Judd’s thriller Double Jeopardy (1999) has this theme been explored.

The ‘funny’ comes through the matter-of-fact, droll open discussions between the hit-man and Violet, the jilted wife and, later on, the hit-man and Violet’s despicable husband, Rick. In one diner scene between Violet and the hit-man there’s a familiarity in the vibe conjured up  that harks back to Tarantino’s earlier films.  It’s a frank execution: a brutal character exposition on human psyche through talking between the mysterious hitman and his clients. Another subtly satirical exchange takes place in the couples marital home, with Rick who launches in to a number of peculiar questions, that even the hit-man thinks is odd.  

There are small moments of normality slotted in, such as Violet’s cold call to husband Rick in the car with a rug in the seat next to her; it’s a jarring but polarising window into the acute situation running parallel to her suburban life. This twisted and ultimately sad car crash of a relationship is somewhat oddly enjoyable to watch. 

find the official trailer here :  vimeo.com/145419528

 

 

 

INDEPENDENT CINEMA AND ME – TRASH BASH

It’s that time of year every year – but I’m talking the autumn months – that’s when biggest film festivals come to the publics doorsteps and we get to bask in marvel of diverse, innovative and painstaking hard work that has gone in to every single film entered. I mean it. I write this blog, not to put films down but to share films that will always have an audience but rarely be given a platform or realm to be discussed and shared. Hence the sporadic nature of my posts. I tend to be busy during festival season, on here, but all year round I will keep you all updated with unknown, obscure and new cinema.

Independent cinema in particular, because I feel the stakes are higher yet limited for the array of struggling and unestablished filmmakers just trying to make work they (hopefully) love.

Hence why you’ll find most (if not all!) reviews on here written about fairly not judged and demeaned. I appreciate the art of film, the thrill in making and sharing film – the sometimes excruciating efforts in making something come to life on whatever budget.

I don’t believe in critiquing with nothing positive to say – I have never seen something so awful that there was nothing – absolutely not a single positive (even my number one hated Movie43 had at least one funny part…I’m sure…and I appreciated the concept) – So I celebrate the good the bad and the very ugly, because I think that’s important.

 

– The Trash Bash.