|Index||4 reviews in total|
Saw this film yesterday at it's TriBeCa premier. Magic Valley is a starkly real look at a day in the life of small town America, but will resonate with all viewers. It is the story of how life can ambush us at any moment, and change us forever. Drawing on experiences from his own life, writer/director Jaffe Zinn fills the film with symbolism that weaves through the lives of the characters, and pulls the plot together perfectly. The large ensemble cast work together very nicely. They translate the sparse script with great skill using emotion as much as words to convey the story line to the audience. Kyle Gallner gives a particularly emotional performance as a troubled teen. Despite the dark overtone, there is some humor. Watch for an engaging performance by Scott Glenn as the quirky sheriff who has his own idea of what's legal in his town. And the two newcomers who play the little boys, dressed up as little boys do, portray the beguilling innocence of the prepubescent with unexpected skill. Enjoy.
This movie comes at you in more than one direction. Humans can
suffocate both physically and mentally and Jaffe Zinn has offered us a
perfect story showing both sides of suffocating.
Here we have a small community in a most rural area of Idaho. Most of the adults are concerned with working to meet the needs of maintaining a comfortable life as we see in the Jerry Garabrant character. His wife Martha, is too busy tending to the dogs needs, shopping, house duties, to notice that their daughter is not home. Then there are the teenagers seeking risky thrills to alleviate their cramped existence in an isolated community. Each one is suffocating mentally and is mostly unaware of it.
TJ, the main character in this story, is visibly tormented, but why we do not find out until well into the movie. Is he suicidal? He wants to talk to someone but is not capable emotionally. The two little boys playing outside discover something that brings the viewer to the direction of this story. The physical side of suffocation is shown with the dead fish and in what the two little boys discover.
About the ending ... some find it pointless. But I see it as just saying 'life continues'. We all know the fate for TJ, the Garabrant's will eventually recover, and few things will actually change for all living in that small community. Zinn has made a thinking persons movie, beautifully photographed, scripted, and acted.
I will not attempt to have perceived the intent of the writer and
director of Magic Valley, but will interject that I found it to be
beautiful, eerie and compelling.
I grew up in the "Magic Valley" in southern Idaho but have lived in the Seattle metro for years now. As a native to the region, I found that this film had captured the subtle beautify that dwells there, while still representing the begrudgingly passive culture that has developed in the communities.
I am amazed at how such a simple story can carry so much weight and can draw me in so deeply. Undoubtedly I will need to watch this film many more times to satisfy the questions that have come to mind by partaking the first.
It's not often that I've seen independent films of this quality produced by someone so new to the industry. Magic Valley is the only film Jaffe Zinn is credited to have written and directed yet he has produced something beautiful. It is no wonder that a veteran like Scott Glenn and newcomer Johnny Lewis were attacked to this script.
Magic Valley - You will haunt my mind with questions and draw me back countless times.
If in every small "ordinary" populated place, where nothing virtually
happens, a dead body is found, then it is a trigger, then it all starts
to swarm, and successive occasions and people's reactions are usually
interesting to follow. But in Magic Valley, corpse forms only a
parallel/collateral event, much focus is placed on damaged pond and
dull communication among the youth. All this is extremely protracted,
there are long camera shots of nature, people talk petty stuff and the
ending is dull, making just shrug your shoulders... As for the cast,
apart from Scott Glenn, there is no one really memorable.
Narration has its place under the sun, but not on the screen in such a manner. Luckily, the movie is around 1 hour 20 minutes only, but all this could be more suitable for radio show or alternative stage play. However, if you worship Terence Malick, you might like Jaffie Zinn as well.
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