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Who "Scarred" Who?
The first time when the viewer sees this film, they may freak out, but they will be driven to see it again guaranteed. Scarred, directed by Damien Rea, is about this guy called Rafi who despite being an attractive guy has a scar on one side of his face. How he got the scar is carefully shown through flashbacks. Trying to forge a relationship or even a date proves difficult for him, as it attracts the wrong sort of attention. He helps a friend out, by letting her use his face as her project. This gets noticed by an admirer and his friend persuades him to take a chance, which may end up changing his life forever. The viewer is drawn to believe a certain line of thinking throughout the film until the end when the gritty flashbacks reveal how Rafi got this scar in the first place. It leaves the viewer questioning who exactly is the victim. All the cast produce great performances and it's a shame there's not a sequel, because the plot is fantastic.
Cat Dancers (2008)
This film about a wild cat circus act, raises more questions that it does answers. One of the reasons why is because only one third of the triangle, Ron Holiday is present to tell the story. That would be fine, if he was totally honest about events, but I don't think he was. He and his wife Joy were into ballet, then as age crept thought of training cats after getting a leopard. The Duo became a trio after they met Chuck and Ron basically describes them as one big happy family until the "accidents" This is where I start to doubt Ron's story. A couple with two people can have it's ups and downs, so I don't think it was as great as he said it was with three people in the mix. Three separate people, with their own hopes, dreams, ambitions and expectations. I think Joy was dedicated to the animals, but Ron became third on her list when Chuck came along. In tapes, it's explained that when the cats are little, they choose their own caretakers and it seemed like most of the cats chose Joy or chuck.
I can't help but think that Ron might of resented them for that, among other things. For example, who went on talk shows to talk about Cat dancers with the media? Who did Ron's cash cow idea choose to care for it? Who did Joy get so depressed over, she rapidly went downhill? All those questions have the same answer: Chuck. I don't think Ron was as pleased to have him around as much as he said he was. He worked with Joy for over twenty years to get cat dancers up and running, only to be upstaged, by a tall young man who his wife found attractive. In her youth, Joy had a great body and wore bikinis and revealing show outfits. I'm sorry to say that when she aged, her wardrobe didn't change and in my opinion, it's not that pleasant to see.
Their apparent love triangle is disturbing for many reasons. Some of those are that I think Chuck was taken advantage of by both of them. The married couple, Ron and Joy could have been friends with him and looked out for him, but I think they manipulated him slightly. They did give him a job, and a place to stay, but it was for a price and I think they pushed him into a corner. Secondly Ron and Joy Holiday were old enough to be his parents. Chuck in the tapes seemed quite innocent and childlike, so the fact that this couple saw him as "fresh meat" was quite disturbing. The accident that happened to him could have been prevented, a view spoken by his mother who was contacted by phone, and is heard on the show. There was so much going on with the builders and their equipment, it was bad judgement to take the cats out, especially Jupiter, Ron's cash cow idea, who chose Chuck to be it's carer. Ron knew that Jupiter was stubborn and had a mean streak so why didn't he leave him caged?
After Chuck's accident, it was clear that Joy had changed, but as for Ron, a few weeks after, he acting like he's walking on air. Filming the tigers after the accident, Joy's voice is toneless and her hands are shaking, more than ever when she scans over Jupiter. It was Ron's idea to get Jupiter, a white tiger that Joy didn't want to have because she said they were mostly all inbred, but in Ron's words he "pushed it, and pushed it" Jupiter was Ron's idea, but Jupiter picked Chuck to look after him. He and Joy were married, but Joy chose Chuck to be her lover. Ron seems to be getting pushed out, yet in tapes that show them training, you can always hear his voice, it's louder than anyone else's.
Joy's accident shouldn't have happened as well. The doctors were planning to take her to hospital the next day, so it seems strange that Ron would take his frail, tired wife into an enclosure with wild cats who don't know their own strength. Ron also mentioned that she was twice over the legal limit with alcohol, but he didn't see her drink. Yet he said, he went in her room with a fan to get rid of the smells, because she never washed, but he couldn't smell any alcohol. Things don't add up, but he's not called out on it. Chuck and Joy can't say, "Well this really happened" or "Ron's talking crap" which is a shame, because Ron paints their romance as rosy and perfect when some people know that's never the case in any relationship. It doesn't seem like Ron's talking about how events really were, in some parts it seems like he reveals how'd he'd like things to have happened.
Ron was pushed to the side in "cat dancers" merely seen as a helper, a viewer to see Chuck the young friendly man the cats loved and Joy the presenter and only "girl" of the group bond with the cats as they worked their magic. But when the bond ended, the cats were stuck with Ron and now he gets the solo attention, sympathy and spotlight that he's always wanted. But other people who watch this may have very different views. A unique story that will intrigue viewers.
Night Swimming (2005)
Lunatics After the Lunachicks
Otter, played by Bobby Steggert is a talented artist, having applied to go to an art college after high school. The college are willing to accept him and Otter should be thrilled, but he isn't. Why? Mainly because he'll get to spend less time with his friend Darcy, played by Damon Cardasis. When Darcy is trying to dunk Otter underwater, Otter thinks that's the only time Darby's going to go near him willingly. With Darcy's girlfriend Amber always in the shadows as permanent competition, Otter finally gets alone time with Darcy when they arrange to go to a concert featuring a band called the Lunachicks. One of their songs are played in the film, it fits the story. Darcy tries to take a short-cut, and they end up running out of gas in the woods.
Drinking and wondering around, they go back to the car when they hear a gunshot, only going back out later to swim in the dark. The conversation which happens after that changes their friendship. It leaves Otter with the only choice to make up his own mind and do what's best for him. Created by Daniel Falcone, this plot has been done a million times before, but the acting is good and Otter and Darcy's friendship is believable throughout it's ups and downs. I doubt viewers will be disappointed by this film.
Hidden Regrets and Train Wrecks
Vandals is a short film that was part of a collection of short films with a similar theme under the title "Protect Me From What I Want" This is one of the films that stand out, because it presents a really realistic relationship in a harsh murky urban-like environment. The main characters are Jonas Ullmann who plays Sebastian and Nils Althaus who plays Johannes. They're a pair of graffiti artists in a gang, but they're also hiding the fact that they're a couple behind closed doors. Sebastian is the group picked leader of the graffiti gang, his image as a self confident ladies man means everything to him.
Johannes wants him to go out with him properly, but Sebastian just can't bring himself to do that and makes excuses. Getting caught by one of their own doesn't help matters either. It drives Sebastian towards a new female member who is an old friend of his. The gang are planning a train type spray paint piece, but Sebastian drops Johannes as his second in command. With their relationship on the line, Johannes is not a happy vandalising bunny. The cast fits well and the leads have chemistry. this film is well worth a look.
Be Turned Inside Out By Love
My name is Love is a short film that was part of a collection of short films with a similar theme under the title "Protect me from what I want" Created by David Fardmar, the set up of how the story is told is quite clever. The main character aptly called "Love" is played by Adam Lundgren. On a night out, partying with his friends, but flashbacks show that this is a good time that goes bad, in more ways than one. Unable to find the courage to seek someone himself, Love gets sought out by Marcus, played by Jonas Rimeika.
This short film has twists and turns, the tension between the characters is believable. For example when Love hesitates to tell Marcus his name, and when Marcus finds out his secret, the viewer can't help but feel Love's embarrassment. It raises good topics without taking sides. The ending's quite shocking though, some people who are easily upset may watch scenes through their fingers. This is one of those films in which the ending is left open, but because of the high level of acting, the viewer may care about the characters and could want to know what happens next.
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)
Tablets aren't the only thing crumbling
My beautiful laundrette isn't as cut and dried as the title suggests. Set in an era that's as unforgiving as the gang that hang around the laundrette like a bad flu, the main character Omar, is finding it difficult being stuck in an unemployed rut. His father Hussein Ali, played by Roshan Seth, convinces his business minded brother Nasser to help him out. Omar starts washing cars at first, until he convinces Nasser to let him run the laundrette. After one of his uncle's gatherings he bumps into an old friend of his that he hasn't seen for years, but a old friend his father can't stand called Johnny, played by DD-L. Despite being well respected by his friends who have radical ideas of how the world should be, Johnny's penniless, homeless and desperate for a break, irrelevant of who it comes from. Omar needs a lending hand to help get the laundrette up and running. This partnership and their subsequent success not only changes them, but everyone around them as well.
The cast is fantastic, but I think Shirley Anne field as Rachel was the weakest link. Gordon Warnecke as Omar was believable as the competitive kid climbing up the social ladder, trying to socially please his family, so he can get further ahead in his business ventures. Rita wolf Shines as the gorgeous Tania, feisty and headstrong, but willing to use traditional methods to get where she wants to be. Her possible "bond" with Johnny was a good surprise too. Derrick Branche is fantastic as Salim. the self assured sort of villain, treating people however he wants and gives no apologies, but has a caring side, even though it's hidden throughout most of the film. DD-L was better in this film than he was in "There will be blood" but that debate is for another review. The character of Johnny is a thousand times more complex than Daniel Plainview. Johnny's carefully volatile, naturally defensive and physically intimidating. He's not the type of lad that suffers fools gladly. Johnny's the rough and ready complex bad boy with a secret soft side.
The revelations here are Saeed Jaffrey as Nasser, the married man with Rachel as his mistress. He strict and cautious, friendly but crafty. He selfishly satisfies his own needs with Rachel, but takes care of his family, by offering them work, keeping them in a big house in the country. He even arranges for Omar to marry his daughter, and becomes quite agitated when that plan begins to fade. He's a traditional man at heart, even when he puts every plan into action with his charisma, he's the opposite of his sibling. Roshan Seth who plays Hussein Ali is absolutely fantastic as Omar's mentally bed bound father. It's great when the brothers meet at the end because it seems like their from two totally different worlds. Omar's mother died and Hussein's guilt along with Omar being forced into playing his nurse, has driven him to drink. Not one slurred or vacant word is heard from him though. He's the most eloquent part time alcoholic in film. He's polite, well educated, and tries to remain a strict father to Omar, even though he can't physically keep track of him. He's resentful of the position he's put himself in, and people he feels put him there, which is one of the reasons he bans Omar from bringing Johnny to their home calling him a "bum-liabilty"
The only time the viewer sees him venture outside is to go to the opening. Going at three AM the next morning, instead of the actual time of three PM the previous afternoon. This is a great scene, because even though Hussein is physically frail, his intellect commands respect and Johnny knows it. Johnny changes his accent, posture and mannerisms when he comes into contact with him he does that with Nasser as well. The affect Hussein has on Johnny is almost as forceful as Omar's but in a different way. Hussein remembers Johnny as who he once was and when he's faced with the johnny he meets in the laundrette they have an interesting conversation as Hussein delivers a tension filled verbal knock with one terrific line that forces Johnny to see that the past is always present. All in all, a very good film.
Donne-moi la main (2008)
Could have been great.....
Good points about this film: This film had the potential to be fantastic. It has a good central theme, dealing with people's fascination with identical twins. This film could have taken the viewer on a journey, inviting people to find out what it's like for two people to be seen as different because they look exactly the same. Not so good points: it doesn't have a plot. It's just two twins arguing and bed-hopping until they get to their destination. The only interesting relationship in the film is cut short. The ending is furious and rushed, and it seems like it was thrown in there as a last ditch effort to create tension. With more intriguing dilemmas used, this film could have been a lot better.
The Long Firm (2004)
A firm you'd want to be in.
Based on Jake Arnott's book of the same name. The TV series of the long firm is an asset to any DVD collection. It follows the story of Harry Starks, the temperamental club owner trying to make it big in the sixties, but he's well ahead of his time. His up's and downs are shown through his friends and acquaintances. Teddy, who Harry helps out of a Jam but he wants something in return, Ruby, who's husband goes to prison, but finds solace with Harry's down-trodden, confused boyfriend Tommy. There's also Jimmy's story ,a dealer who can't get over his wife's death and helps Harry solve a mystery, and Lenny, who finds himself teaching Harry all he knows, and ends up with nothing as a result.
All the cast are terrific in their roles, especially Mark Strong as Harry starks. He can be friendly yet menacing, manipulative but careless, destructive but fragile all at the same time. There's also a scene with Harry and his father that's complete scene stealer. Each episode is unmissable.
Protect Me from What I Want (2009)
Subtle and poignant
Some people have been comparing this to a modern day "My beautiful laundrette" but I don't think that's true at all. It does have some similarities. They both include interracial gay romances and the main characters have to keep it secret, but this film does stand on it's own as an effective drama, and the acting ensures that it can't be compared to anything else. Naveed Choudhry stars as Saleem who's realistically torn between his religious beliefs, family expectations and his own "disgust" with himself, while Daz played by Elliot Tittensor, in the beginning appears more confident, having accepted what he wants. Naveed plays Saleem with an edgy shyness, that never seems too over the top. Constantly on his guard, he can't help but be wary of Daz, but is drawn to him at the same time.
Created by Dominc Leclerc, this is a short film in which the characters seem very thought out. Daz is definitely the more outgoing character, more self assured and willing to take chances. He's also keeping secrets too, as he juggles his mates alongside his personal life, but pushes that aside in order to help Saleem. In the film they both change and you get to see different sides of their characters. Saleem isn't as timid as he first appears and Daz isn't as happy go lucky as the viewer might think he is. The ending is open to interpretation and may leave the viewer wanting more.