I'm not saying that there is something wrong with the Polish community but, if the new film by Piotr Szkopiak is anything to go by then lock up your daughters the Poles are coming! With exotic backdrops of the Woolich Ferry and Catford Dogs we watch how a love triangle grows, rages out of control and eventually comes to an extremely violent conclusion, helped along by a cast of quirky Polish mothers, Metro driving Geordies and well dressed Irish madmen.
Inspired location choices and clever filming techniques give the film a realistic edge to. The films pace is snappy and for a first feature, the script, (written by Mr Szkopiak) is outstanding. Only one minor criticism the scene lengths are in places too long and cutting a few minutes here and there could easily remedy this making the film nothing short of perfect!
So what's next from Mr Szkopiak? Well we can but wait with hushed anticipation!
I think it is fair to say that if any film generates a wide variety of reactions it must be of interest and Small Time Obsession has definitely done that. In this case, it is all the more interesting because this is a small, micro-budget movie, made by a complete first-timer, which only received a limited cinema release in the UK. Apart from reviews in the majority of the UK's daily and Sunday newspapers, I am aware of television reports on CNN and Carlton TV's `London Tonight' programme as well as a two-page article on Polish London in London's `Evening Standard' newspaper.
The point I wanted to make, however, is that I do find it unfortunate that some reviewers seem to take such pleasure in finding fault with this film and it's director. For instance, one reviewer tells us that the film received a thrashing from the critics on its cinema release and this is simply not true. A number of reviews were indeed negative but then there were many that were very positive, as a simple search of the internet and a visit to the film's own website will show.
I say this because there seems to be a tendency to accentuate the negative aspects in all work from first-time filmmakers rather than the positive. A first film is, after all, by definition, more likely to be flawed than not because it is just that, a FIRST film. Where else is a new feature film director meant to learn his craft if not in front of a cinema audience? Surely directing TV, theatre, music videos or commercials is far from being a valid substitute. I would agree that he certainly doesn't deserve special treatment but, in this case, I cannot agree that the film does not, at least, show promise. Furthermore, this was a truly independent production, not backed by a TV company or the Lottery. It received a cinema release on merit and did not have the benefit of a multi-million dollar advertising budget. This, I would say, is an achievement in itself and, as a result, I think the film should, at least, be given a chance to find an audience because, as the positive reviews show, there certainly seems to be one.
Opinion is one thing but why some reviewers believe criticism has to be nasty, not to say patronising, is beyond me. Fair, informed and constructive criticism is both necessary and useful. Anything else is pretty pointless. Sometimes, it seems that reviewers are criticising the film the director was trying to make rather than the film he or she did make. They show a disappointment in the thinking behind the film rather than the film itself. In a sense, the reviewer is asking, `Who does he or she think they are?'
For example, one of the criticisms aimed at the film was that it was yet another British gangster film trying to cash in, I suppose, on the success of `Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels'. Well, as a trip to the film's website again clearly shows, the script was written well before `Lock, Stock' and actual filming started well before `Lock, Stock' had opened in the cinema. Why then does the film have to suffer because `Lock, Stock' and then a whole spate of similar films make it into the cinema first? Surely a film should be judged on it's own merits and not in comparison with other films. Furthermore, I think Small Time Obsession is much more than just a gangster film but even if it was, why is this so wrong? If the film is a blatant copy or shows us nothing new then it deserves to be criticised but this is certainly not the case with Small Time Obsession.
In my opinion, Small Time Obsession is quite clearly the result of a lot of thought, hard work and commitment and deserves to be handled with at least some degree of respect and forethought. For instance, a particular reviewer who did not like the film commented that he/she was surprised to see a lot of Polish people in the audience, thinking this was somehow a cynical promotional drive for the film. Why is this a surprise if the film deals with the Polish community? I think I would be surprised NOT to find Polish people in the audience because that really would be a bad sign. After all, I take it the tickets were not free. Also, this same reviewer was upset to see the director at the screening promoting his own film. Well, again, I don't understand why this is a surprise.wouldn't the director be prepared to do all he could to persuade people to see his film? How else is a director meant to know whether or not his or her film works in front of an audience if they never meet that audience? Finally, this same reviewer comments that he/she enjoyed a film called The Killing Zone much more than Small Time Obsession. It turns out that Small Time Obsession's director was one of the co-producers of and, in fact, edited The Killing Zone. Can the reviewer not find anything positive in that at least? It seems that the filmmakers involved have produced not one but two very competent and successful first films, both made on almost non-existent budgets. How can this not be a good thing? Why trash it?
As one daily newspaper put it `Small Time Obsession may not be perfect but it is a film with heart'. I believe this film was made for the right reasons. This is not cynical, self-indulgent or blatantly commercial filmmaking. There is no question the makers love films and are, at least, trying to entertain an audience. Surely this is to be encouraged. In conclusion, I would agree with another comment made by the above reviewer and encourage you to take all reviews with a pinch of salt and make up your own mind by seeing the film for yourself.
As a viewer and fan of international film, it is always interesting to get a taste of the thoughts, lives and passions of individuals from other countries. In `Small Time Obsession' we get this view twofold. Firstly, with the characters being from the streets of London and, secondly, thrown into the mix, the ethnic background of the gang' all having Polish roots via their family backgrounds.
An interesting duality that causes the characters to become caught in the middle', as it were, between old-world ideals and doing what they believe is right in order to get ahead. Situations seemingly which are all too familiar; yet, are handled so differently by each character. Their thoughts, lives and passions are found to be not so different from the rest of us. And, why should they be any different? We just want to see how 'they' handle it, from the comfort of our seats (which we are glued to, by the way).
With proficient and enticing camera work, not only our visual perceptions are heightened but also our relationships with the characters are enhanced. Good solid acting along with a reality-based story really come together well here -- another duality whose synergy flows with the director Piotr Szkopiak's truly perceptive eye. For me, `Small Time Obsession' has the caliber of being a `Big Time Film'.
I look forward to what Piotr Szkopiak has in store for us next.
I saw this during the UK Film Series we have out here and thought it was very good. I love films from the UK and this was fresh, interesting and enjoyable. I also found I related quite strongly to the family in the film and thought this was particularly well done. Overall, the film had a certain charm and atmosphere which was very captivating. I'm very glad I had the chance to see it.
What a film! - pulled from pillar to post - from the hilarious comedy into the depths of the personal psyche. This is a film for the realist and yet a film for the sensitive - it strikes a chord whoever you are. It is hard to escape from anything in this film as its powerful messages hit hard and fast, soft and still, loud and quiet they leave the viewer reeling from - well everything.
Lets just say this is a lesson in remembering that the things in life that are big, huge massive at the time eventually become smaller, small to being memorised with a tint of rose and a hint of pain.
An inspiring film by an exciting new director & writer. The film is beautifully shot and the dialogue convincing. I hope that Piotr Skopiak's future work builds on this promising start- one to look out for if this is anything to go by!
This film is worth the highest praise not only because it was made for a ridiculously small amount of money but because the result is a classy, if gritty, piece of entertainment. Even though its been labeled a gangster film, it doesn't go the obvious route and concentrates on the characters and their relationships rather than physical action. It isn't flashy but in a good way. The shots don't constantly fly around but let you get into the story. The pace is slow but satisfying. It looks great and the music is perfect. The acting is excellent and it is so refreshing to see some new, young and talented faces in the lead roles. I also liked it so much more because it was just such a pleasant surprise. It just shows that the best way to see films is not to know too much about them. I cannot recommend this film more.
When I first got the video of this film, I thought this would be very much a `boy's film' - probably a lot of swearing and violence. There is swearing and there is violence but it is also a very sensitive film about growing up. The best thing was that the acting was very good and the story kept me interested all the way through. I thought the scenes with the parents were particularly well done with the boy speaking in English while his parents spoke in Polish. I hadn't seen it done in this way before and being Spanish myself I was surprised how similar the Polish parents were to my own. I used to speak to them in English in the same way. A very good film. I would recommend it.
If anyone says that this is a bad film then take it from me they are wrong. Rent it, buy it, whatever you won't be disappointed. If you are then I really don't know what the problem is. This is a movie movie, not a pop video. If you like your films well crafted and intelligent then this is definitely for you. Thank the stars someone still wants to make something like a worthwhile film rather than just jumping on a bandwagon. Its low budget and has no stars. Its slow and some bits don't work. Listen to me - it doesn't matter. See it. You'll enjoy it. If you don't then I really think you can't be a very happy person.
This is a good film. Don't believe the "knockers". Granted, this is a low-budget film but it has a story, drama and good acting. It starts off by introducing you to all the characters, slowly weaving in a number of different strands including a love story, gangster film and coming-of-age drama. It is an ambitious film but I was never less than engaged and entertained. I loved it!
With the producers form the excellent low budget film The Killing Zone (which it says at the back of the video rental box); it would be tempting to hope that Small Time Obsession might be a cut above the rest. Unfortunately the film is far from good and the pace mind numbly slow. It was a good try by the director and there is some redeeming scenes in the film but unfortunately the bad out weigh the good and I was left with why did I hire this film out and was it worth the rental fee? The answers- because of The Killing Zone and no.