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Terminal Island (2004)
A stylish contemporary film noir in the tradition of "The Third Man" and "He Walked By Night"
This is a stylish, ambitious contemporary film noir in the tradition of such 1940s classics as Carol Reed's "The Third Man" and Anthony Mann's "He Walked By Night," with a little of the cinema verite style of "The French Connection" thrown in. Most of the film is shot at night, with harsh shadows, moody industrial settings, rough-edged characters, and an ironic, black sense of humor. The film also has a great score, obviously inspired by Lalo Schiffrin. "Terminal Island" is also one of the few independent films made after 9/11 that deals with the subject of Islamic terrorism. There are both positive and negative Muslim characters, and the cast overall is pretty diverse. The settings are also pretty good - from the docks and warehouses of LA harbor, to underground tunnels, exotic Moroccan restaurants, old Art Deco/ Spanish homes from the 20's, to seedy 50's motels and ultramodern office buildings. The plot centers around a young woman named Sita who is stalked around LA Harbor by a terrorist, who is himself being pursued by a bounty hunter. The film starts out strong with a witty opening, and is pretty engaging throughout, but lags at times in pacing. The strong points of the film are its striking black and white cinematography, and the acting of its leads. The weak point would be its plot, which is perhaps overly ambitious (with three separate but intertwining story lines) for the modest budget of the film. The movie premiered at the Liberty Film Festival in October 2004 in LA and was well received by the audience. Overall, though the film was made on a very low budget and has its rough edges, the filmmakers made the most of digital technology, and great settings around the port of LA, to make a stylish and ambitious film.