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|Index||20 reviews in total|
You've already read the synopsis from the other reviews, so I'll spare
you that. Just let me tell you that I stumbled across this film not
knowing what to expect and within the first minute, I was pulled in and
it never let go.
I am definitely not it's intended demo (50 year old male), but I do appreciate good cinema, especially the "indie" efforts. Granted, many of such films can be arduous at best, but not Dakota Skye. The actors all gave stellar performances in a very natural way. You never felt as if you were watching a production, but rather it was if you floated down into their lives for a couple of hours. That's why I watch movies.
Highly recommended. Please give this movie some good word of mouth. It truly deserves it.
I was at the Phoenix Film Festival this weekend, and it was one of the
strongest batch of quality films I've seen at a festival. There were
none of those high- profile stinkers (like Hound Dog) that always seem
to slip into these showcases. Just good cinema.
By far the Best of the Fest was a little film called DAKOTA SKYE. It's a coming of age story (strike 1) with no stars (strike 2). But the film does not deserve to go back to the lockers. This should be seen by the widest audience possible. (At the fest, I saw a similar remarkable film, the already acclaimed American Teen. This was even better.)
And while it's about a 16 year-old girl growing up in Phoenix, the film is not your typical coming of age drama...not even close. There's a (let's say) superhero element that makes the film completely unique (without relying on its gimmick like say, What Women Want.) The ingenious script by Chad Shonk (who so deserved the Award he won) merely uses his gimmick as a jumping off point, to explore issues of trust. I am not the target audience for this film, yet it spoke to me in a way I would not have expected. (It's even more exceptional that the film was written, produced and directed by men, yet is such a strong woman's picture.)
And the cast may not be stars, but they can Act, with a capital A. Eileen Boylan gets a star-making part as the emotionally conflicted Dakota. She plays well off of Ian Nelson and J.B. Ghuman as the two men in her life. Each performer brings a different energy to the film, and you can see what appeals to Dakota and draws her to both guys. (The conflict is highlighted in an amazing movie theater scene that contains some of the film's best dialogue and most subtly powerful direction.) Nelson shows the skills of a solid leading man, while Ghuman should be required casting for any filmmaker looking for an actor who can steal the movie. His mixture of jerkiness and emotional sincerity should be taught to other actors of his generation who keep messing parts like this up.
The film is really well edited. For a dialogue-heavy film, there's a lot of montages and they feel carefully planned, not scraped together out of whatever footage was lying around. (Something that you come to expect to find in a first-time Indie film.) And it's all tied up with a light and bouncy score that knows when to come in and when to let the actors do the heavy lifting.
I learned this is the feature debut of director John Humber, and I can't wait to see where he goes next. This is an assured first film (like the best parts of Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides or David Gordon Green's George Washington.) My big fear is that, with no stars to push, the film will get lost on the festival circuit and we will all lose out on one of the most exciting filmmakers I've seen in a while. I urge everybody to mark this page, google the film, do whatever you have to. If this film comes to your town, DO NOT MISS IT. If you happen to be on a festival committee, don't be so quick to give it a pass. (Like Hustle & Flow, the film gets better and better as it goes on.) You'll want to say that you played this film and supported this filmmaker. (He also gives an excellent Q&A.)
DAKOTA SKYE, the best independent film that isn't getting enough attention.
p.s. I was inspired to write this review because I worry the film won't get released in theaters or come out on DVD. And I really want to own this film on DVD. I don't want the festival to be the one and only time I get to watch it.
There are few times as a movie watcher when you get to be there at the
beginning. By the time a directors name gets tossed into the open arena
of critics and fans alike, they have already created a handful of
theatrical visions and you find yourself scouring Netflix or
Blockbuster trying to walk backwards through their cinematic resume.
Well, this is one of those few times where you can say you were there
when. In a small number of years you can act snobby at parties and brag
about how you saw this feature length debut years before anyone knew
about the following successes. What's better than having intellectual
ammo at the ready to feel superior about? Not much.
Let's talk about the movie first, before we get into the behind the scenes masterminds. Dakota Skye is a superhero tale with a twist. Dakota is a young girl, only medium cute (a line from the movie, which is terribly inaccurate) and she has a secret power. No one can lie to her. Anytime someone distorts the truth around her, their real meaning and honest thoughts appear in front of her like subtitles in a foreign film. You might think this would be a great power to have, but once you start realizing how much people lie and what they really feel about you, life can seem pretty bleak. This is where Jonah comes in, a pleasant tinged stoner who seemingly never tells a lie. Meeting Jonah throws Dakota's world into a spin because there are only two answers, either her powers don't work on him or he really is the last honest person on Earth. Let the teenage confusion and angst begin! The movie is really centered around the relationship between Dakota and Jonah, which places a large amount of the success on the shoulders of Eileen Boylan (as Dakota) and Ian Nelson (as Jonah). Thankfully both step up to the task. The chemistry on screen helps the audience sink into their world, reminding us about that time when we met the first person who got underneath all our walls and social defenses. Eileen shuffles her scuffed jeans and worn-in Chucks through a performance balanced between one part slacker, one part dreamer and one part trail blazer. Top off with a dash of jaded teenager forced to grow up too fast and you have the incarnation of Dakota. Her adorable presence on screen and earnest moments really center the film and keep the audience tuned in. Coming in to lend his assistance is Ian with a humble smile, honest face and almost effortless delivery. Certain scenes for him felt so natural it could have been mistaken for improv, just letting him go and feel the moment as it happened. You can expect to see both of these young actors in the coming years, that is, if you haven't already caught Eileen in Greek and Making Change and Ian in Bratz and True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet.
Now both of those performances would not have been possible if not for the delicate touch of director John Humber. This is his first feature film and I can guarantee it won't be his last to reach the silver screen. Dakota Skye has the feel and rough edges of a debut filmmaker, but there is a vision, a concept and a level of skill that cannot be denied. The whole story is visually told with delicate pacing, filled with engaging moments, leading up to a beautifully touching final scene right out of any major motion picture we see today (specifically in the romance genre, that is). If this is the beginning of a career, all I can say is I am excited to see what's coming down the line.
I love when I see the trailer for a movie and expect so little from it and then get so much. It's the kind of movie that makes you glad you took the time out to see it but then at the same time wish you didn't so you can watch it for the first time again. Sentimental without being gushy-over-the-top-nonsense, well written and possibly even better acted. The dialog is crisp and funny but still natural and the actors pull it off with just the right amount of sarcasm when necessary and emotion when required. Its not going to win Oscars or end up on the AFI top 100, its not the best film ever shot, and it might not deserve a 10/10 compared to some of the classics, but it is a gem and if giving it a 10 in some tiny way makes other people watch it too then its a lie that even Dakota might approve of. Definitely one of my recommended movies to anyone I talk to.
I just saw this movie at the Phoenix film festival where it won the award for best screenplay. The writing was very deserving of the award. The story is terrific and the dialogue very believable. The apathy and cynicism she has developed over the years with her ability to see through the lies of others plays very well and is very relatable because we have all felt that way at some point in our lives when we have seen through a lie that we had once believed in. The story is a very realistic exploration of the meaning and definition of truth and what role it plays in our lives. All of the actors were of believable age as well, which is often hard to find in a film involving high school age characters. Terrific movie well worth seeing and I hope it makes it into wider distribution.
We just saw the "world premiere" of this brilliant independent film at
the San Luis Obispo Film Festival. This low-budget little masterpiece
was shot in just 16 days (a miracle in itself). Creative concept,
touching and original script and compelling performances make this the
"Juno" of 2008. It is funny and thoughtful and moving without being
predictable or sentimental.
It deserves broad distribution so the world can share this realistic look at the value of truth in a world full of half-truths and lies.
Bravo to the young film makers who really got it right.
P.S. Josh Brolin was there to introduce his short feature "X". He stayed for "Dakota Skye" and was very enthusiastic about the film.
I had read so many good things about Dakota Skye, that I had to track
it down and give it a spin. I agree with some of the positive things
that have been said about it. The young actors that are the stars were
uniformly wonderful and believable. The direction and acting all shared
an organic feel, that made it easy to get into the vibe of the movie.
Other than that, I wasn't really wowed by Dakota Skye. The story is interesting enough, and Dakota's ability, while fantastical, actually serves as the emotional groundwork of the movie. Dakota's personality is perfectly reasonable, given her circumstances. I know I'd be as cynical and jaded as she occasionally was. Maybe even more. It's refreshing to see such a well-written character. But beyond that, the movie was never much more than a mildly enjoyable experience. Decent, but not great. I liked the idea more than its actual execution.
Mr. John Humber is a name we will all soon be hearing about.
I just saw this movie at the Phoenix Film Festival... I was blown away by the quality of the writing, the acting, the soundtrack, and, above all, the direction, the overall creativity of it. Eileen April Boyle is a standout, though her co-stars put in good performances. The script by Chad Shonk is remarkable in its subtlety, its creativity (especially given the genre), and for the reality of the world presented.
As a point of comparison (for you indie film lovers), Ed Burn's debut, BROTHERS McMULLEN, doesn't hold a candle to this film. And that's not to diminish Mr. Burns, but rather to communicate the quality of this film. Remarkable. Outstanding.
I spoke with the director right after the screening, and he shared that it has been rejected from a number of festivals because there are no stars in the cast. The selection committees should be ashamed of themselves for such a decision.
If you get the chance, SEE THIS FILM. It has left me in that dream-like state which only excellent films can accomplish, where the characters are so well-drawn that you don't want it end, don't want the credits to play, and which holds your thoughts -- and your heart -- in its hands for a time afterward.
(John Humber, you're my hero.)
Why can't more indies be this good. All you need is a great script, good actors, and a director to catch the right mood. This movie has all three. Also Dakota Skye was not overly moody, condescending, or wrecked by some aspiring director trying to make the perfect movie and ending up over doing everything in it. I really liked both of the leads and the chemistry they had was great. Also kudos to the writer for effectively using the truth plot device it could have easily gone haywire but it had just the right tone with the cynical but extremely likable young girl. Who wouldn't be cynical knowing the truth all of the time. I got the movie out of a redbox so it has come to DVD so I say this is not just a good indie but a good romance as well.
This was an excellent film! I just saw it at the Phoenix Film Festival. Very realistic and convincing. Her story is completely normal in every other respect besides her ability, and I connected much more with the movie because of it. Her quest felt like something a real person would go through. She's unsure of her future, unsure of her feelings, and everything is just confusing. I don't think it can get more accurate than that when describing adolescence. Some people might judge bits of the content to be inappropriate, but I feel that if it hadn't of been there, I couldn't have taken the characters and plot seriously. I really enjoy the fact the Dakota's superpower both is and is not the focus of the movie. The writers were able to make it stay far from any cheesy superpower movie clichés, which was wonderful. The ability was just a tool to allow her to discover parts of herself. I loved the film, excellent work!
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