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Still the Drums (2009)

 -  Drama  -  2010 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 50 users  
Reviews: 13 user

Three childhood best friends all old veterans get together after attending the military funeral for the childhood buddy and look back on their lives. A truly captivating and original drama.

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Title: Still the Drums (2009)

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Credited cast:
Talbot Perry Simons ...
Bobby Figaro ...
Richard Fulvio ...
Aaron Houle ...
Brett Lee Alexander ...
Keegan Michael ...
Laura Lee Carlson ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Alex Bollinger ...
The General


A powerful and touching story spanning fifty years in the lives of four best friends that will grab you and not let go. M.I.A. (missing in action) , in Vietnam, for thirty-nine years, the remains of Lt. Jack E. Buchannon, U.S.M.C., are found and identified. he is brought home and awarded the medal of honor and buried as a fallen hero. His three childhood best friends, all ex-marines and Vietnam veterans, get together after attending the funeral to raise a toast, look back on their lives, their friendship and their service to country. A captivating and original drama that will have you on the edge of your seat Written by Talbot Perry Simons

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


An American classic story about friendship heroism and patriotism. See more »





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2010 (USA)  »

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Did You Know?


The Vietnam jungle scenes were shot in a California paint-ball park. See more »


When Tom is walking through the Vietnamese jungle to investigate the shooting he heard, he sees a California Mountain King Snake. See more »


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Written by Curtis S.D. MacDonald
Performed by Curtis S.D. MacDonald
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User Reviews

A true cinematic labor of love
13 December 2010 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

The director, writer, star, editor & composer of STILL THE DRUMS, Talbot Perry Simons, was kind enough to ask me for my thoughts on his independent film. Watching the film was an unusual experience. I had to bring a bit of an open mind, because although I've watched hundreds of "independent" films and enjoyed many "low budget" films, STILL THE DRUMS is a different breed. It's an ultra-low budget film that straddles a line between a home movie project and a film with real backing. It's a labor of love that was executed on the most frayed of shoestring budgets.

I have to be honest, it took me awhile to look past the low budget trappings and to settle in and appreciate and respect the movie for what it is. STILL THE DRUMS is a singular cry from the impassioned plea for all Americans to remember the lifelong price our combat soldiers pay.

This is the story of four childhood friends who went to war in Vietnam. Only 3 came back, and Jackie, the fourth, was MIA. Each year, on Jackie's birthday, the remaining friends, Tom, Al & Mike gather to remember their lost buddy. But at the start of this film, the three are gathering for Jackie's funeral, because after 39 years, their old pal's remains have been recovered and brought home to rest.

The three aging men meet in their usual spot, and as the rainy day wears on, the burdens of their unhappy memories and their secrets begin to weigh on them. We learn the terrible price these men have paid day after day for the service they provided us.

STILL THE DRUMS could almost have been a play. Except for some flashback scenes, pretty much all of it takes place in one dimly lit room. And it's mostly just the three actors. They sit and talk and yell and drink and their faces are etched with grief and unhappiness.

It's heavy material, and not exactly sprinkled with much humor. The pacing of the film is fairly slow, but it is moving to its own particular rhythms. The three men spend a lot of time arguing with each other, but they also spend a lot of time lost in their own thoughts, quietly tortured by their secrets, guilt and memories. Director and writer Simons plays Tom, the most emotional of the group. His lined face and habitual running of his hands over his close cropped hair nicely conveys the sense of a man who has not truly enjoyed life for nearly 4 decades. Richard Fulvio is excellent as Al, who appears to be something of the voice of reason, the least tortured of the bunch. But one wonders if he has simply done the best job over the years of hiding his demons. Bobby Figaro is Mike, the friend who most worships the departed Jackie. Looking a little like George C. Scott, Figaro is saddled with a part that's just a little hard to believe. His loud protestations are sometimes a bit over-the-top...or perhaps they seem a bit out of the blue, because the script hasn't quite gotten him to the point where we accept him blowing his stack quite so vehemently.

So, sometimes the script is just a little clumsy and the performances not as polished as we are accustomed to seeing. The sets are sparse, and the visual depiction of Vietnam is not entirely convincing. The music is sometimes turned up just a little too high. But the desire on the part of its creator to evoke a reaction, to make the viewer feel the despair and anguish these veterans have carried with them is all the more effective, because the effort is so evident. This film was actually IMPORTANT to its creator, and not every movie we see has that feeling. STILL THE DRUMS was a true labor of love, and it's an unusual pleasure to share in that feeling.

The film contains some strong language and some pretty strong subject matter, so it is not for kids (it's unrated). And it is not for a moviegoer looking for action and a brisk pace. It is for a patient viewer who is ready to be seated as the fourth person right at the table with these three friends as their feelings and secrets pour out.

(The film also contains a reworking of Blind Willie Johnson's NOBODY'S FAULT BUT MINE with some new lyrics. It was momentarily off-putting (because I'm so accustomed to the Led Zeppellin version, until I really paid attention and saw how effective the piece really was in complementing the themes of the movie.)

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