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Category Archives: Review

Short Film Review: Social Butterfly

Jahsh Durrant a current Warwick Academy student and our resident BIFF Blogger reviews some of the short films screening in the Bermuda Shorts Competition. 

Social Butterfly

Lauren Wolkstein’s short film ‘Social Butterfly’ is a mystery story of an American woman who enters a French teenage girl’s birthday party with no properly given explanation. As a mystery much of the film is based around us as the audience attempts to figure what is true and false as collect the various clues which can help to know why this person has invaded this party and who exactly they truly are.

One of the best aspects of the ‘Social Butterfly’ is that the mystery of who our protagonist is remains interesting throughout the entire film as while some semblance of an explanation is given her true motivations remain vague which keeps the storyline interesting and can encourage actual discussion of the mystery from an audience. This clear focus is evident as even with other situations and characters added as the film goes on it still remains the most important and the most interesting part of the film which holds the other subplots together. This is helped through a strong performance by Anna Margaret Hollyman as the protagonist Margaret who through the use of subtle changes in facial expressions makes it hard to know whether what she is saying is true or false which allows the character to become more interesting.

However despite this the film is hurt by much weaker performances by the minor cast with all but one exception (Camille Claris as Chloe) of the other actors playing the actual teenagers at the party coming across as flat and dull in comparison to the protagonist with many of the stronger character moments coming when they were off screen. These minor characters also often resulted in situations which were irrelevant to the main plot and did little in getting a reaction out of the audience. While these didn’t take anything away from the film they also didn’t add much of importance.

Pros

  • An actually interesting mystery
  • Strong performance from main protagonist

Cons

  • Weak minor cast
  • Some unneeded moments

Overall ‘Social Butterfly’ is a thoughtful and interesting mystery story which creates a compelling enough main protagonist and storyline that it should be seen if at all possible.

Social Butterfly screens on April 16th at 4:00pm as part of Short Program: Global Visions.

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Short Film Review: Victoria Meets

 

Jahsh Durrant a current Warwick Academy student and our resident BIFF Blogger reviews some of the short films screening in the Bermuda Shorts Competition. 

Victoria Meets

Robert Bierman’s short film ‘Victoria Meets’ is set in 1874 where Queen Victoria is shown trying to cope with the recent death of Prince Albert and return to her royal activities as she is instructed to by Prime Minister William Gladstone. As such the film becomes a character study of the queen herself as we the audience learn what the prince truly meant to her and the devastation which causes her to forget her own position of power.

‘Victoria Meets’ presents itself as not a story but instead a simple conversation between the two most powerful people in Britain who are the only characters which we ever see onscreen. In order for this to be pulled off correctly you obviously need strong performances from your actors which thankfully Saskia Wickham and Oliver Ford Davies pull of incredibly with the heartbreak of the queen over her son’s death and pleas of the prime minister to the queen being perfectly expressed in the actor’s facial expressions and various changes in vocal tone. Also used to enhance the emotion impact is the use of music as the use of little music and instead a reliance on silence means that the few times which music is used have considerably more of an emotional impact in regards to the current scene.

There are however some problems which can be found within ‘Victoria Meets’ most notably is an occasionally hard to follow script which can limit how much of a connection you have to the characters (this is meant to be one of the driving forces of the film!!). While this can be understood as an attempt to emulate the upper class of the 1870’s it can still make it hard to follow for the casual viewer. Another problem is in the single set and lack of interesting camera angles which can create a boring atmosphere with a feeling of nothing really happening.

Pros

  • Strong performance from both actors
  • Limited but strong use of musical score

Cons

  • Occasionally confusing script
  • A lack of interesting sets or camera angles

Overall ‘Victoria Meets’ may not be a favorite but still stands a solid film and a strong character study of Queen Victoria.

Victoria Meets will screen on April 13th at 3:45pm as part of Short Film Program: Reel Britianna.

Short Film Review: Asad

 

Jahsh Durrant a current Warwick Academy student and our resident BIFF Blogger reviews some of the short films screening in the Bermuda Shorts Competition. 

Asad

Bryan Buckley’s short film ‘Asad’ tells the tale of the eponymous protagonist: a Somali boy who is while wishing to join the life of a pirate is instead forced to the simple life of a fisherman. This leads him to a coming of age story where he learns of both the talent for has for fishing but also of the dangers which can be associated with the life of a pirate.

One of the most incredible things to know about ‘Asad’ is that none of the actors have had previous acting experience and are actually involved in their first (and probably last) roles in a film. Throughout the film however you will not notice this at all with the majority of the cast give incredibly convincing performances in their roles: especially of note is Harun Mohammed playing our protagonist who slowly grows more and more confident in his role as a fisherman as the film goes on. This acting is helped by a strong script and musical score which help to illustrate the destruction of the country of Somalia from the perspective of those who were directly involved while also showing the compassion which is still inhibited by its people.

If there was any problem with this film it can be found in the emotional payoff to major events towards the end as the film speeds up in pace incredibly in the final few minutes. This turns events which should be shocking or even sad into events that you will forget about quickly as the film doesn’t stay focused on them for long enough.

Pros

  • Strong acting from an inexperienced main cast
  • Script and story which show the devastation of Somali pirates
  • An emotional musical score

Cons

  • Lack of emotional impact from finale of film

Overall ‘Asad’ is a great short film with a strong understanding of its source material from its creators and should be watched by as many people as possible.

Asad screens on April 18th at 9:15pm it will proceed the feature film In the Shadow of the Sun.

Everything or Nothing The thrilling inside story of the James Bond franchise

This article was originally published in 1/16/2013 edition of the Bermuda Sun; Writer Sarah Lagan

WEDNESDAY, JAN. 16: The story of Bond: Everything or Nothing explores the meteoric rise of a series of spy novels into a national treasure, an institution and a gold mine.

Following the shared dream of producers Harry Saltzman and Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and writer Ian Fleming, we see how close 007came to failing before becoming the longest running film series in history.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary Bond: Everything or Nothing digs up reels upon reels of old footage from the Eon Productions’ extensive archive to help tell the inside story of the franchise for the first time.

All the big guns were gathered for this extensive documentary from the screenwriters, art designers, directors and actors to family members and friends.

The glaring omission is Sean Connery — the original and, as many believe, the best Bond of all.

He is sorely missed — much of the documentary focuses on his involvement in the films but we don’t really get to hear his opinions about the franchise that made him a household name. He doesn’t come out of the film looking very good.

Formerly an unknown actor, Bond made Connery an overnight star but as his fame rocketed so did the tension between him and the producers. Despite his success, it is suggested that Connery believed Broccoli and Saltzman were greedy with their money and that, as the star of the show, he deserved to be paid more.

Eventually he pulled out saying he would never return.

Then, in 1983, he made the ironically titled Never say Never Again after being artfully coaxed back by Kevin McClory — the litigious thorn in the side of Eon Productions.

McClory was determined to prove he had the rights to create a rival Bond franchise claiming to have co-written the storyline for Thunderball.

Tensions

Other tensions rose within the Eon family as Saltzman fell into financial difficulties forcing Broccoli to carry on the franchise without him.

Daughter Barbara Broccoli explains how the opening scene of The Spy Who Loved Me — with Bond skiing off a sheer cliff face before opening up a Union Jack parachute — was a metaphor for her father’s gamble in continuing without Saltzman.

It’s the details like this that make this documentary more than just promotional fluff.

Aside from the archival material there are some great new interviews including those with all but one of the Bonds.

Roger Moore tells how bad he now feels for having to knock a little Thai boy off of a boat during a scene in one of the films, it doesn’t fit especially well with his role as a UNICEF Good Will Ambassador.

George Lazenby recalls how he tricked his way into the Eon offices and lied to the producers about his acting experience. Attracted by his audacity they gave him a shot but he blew it. His interview is candid — he talks of his deepest regret and how, when director Roman Polanski announced at a party “here’s George, the redundant actor!”, Lazenby had to go home and look up the word redundant in the dictionary.

The film makes clear that Fleming, a former Commander in the Royal Navy specializing in intelligence, created the man he wished he could be through Bond. It was “the autobiography of a dream,” says one interviewee.

Bond was his alter ego — Fleming is said to have once told a girl: “I hope you are not a lesbian” before passionately kissing her in true Bond fashion.

While Fleming is portrayed as a confident, charismatic man, we are given an insight into his vulnerability. As fellow actor Christopher Lee put it “the world was not enough for him”. Early on, unsure about the future of the books, he hit rock bottom before the producers came along to save the day.

The film is packed with clever editing that intertwines the story of Bond with the real off screen story at any given moment making for highly entertaining viewing.

The Presidential following of Bond plays a big part in the documentary with admiration flowing in from John F Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. We see footage of JFK reading his favourite books list and From Russia With Love was down as number four. The President even went as far to say said he wished he had Bond on his team.

Fleming offers some of the most vivid quotations throughout the film — he talks of wanting to, “thrill the reader right down to his taste buds.”

After a scene about Timothy Dalton’s reinvention of Bond as a violent, brutal killer, it cuts to an old clip of Fleming explaining: “It’s not for children, it’s for warm blooded, heterosexual adults”.

On the whole the story is extremely favourable of Eon and there are few voices included in the story that contest that. However it does explore the difficulties along the way not least Bond’s ongoing identity crisis following the lead of Connery. It is certainly worth watching though and not only for the die-hard fans — the documentary is a highly entertaining and informative watch.

 

BIFF 2012 Festival Coverage Review

New York based Filmmaker Magazine gives its verdict on BIFF 2012: “This gracious and warmly welcoming fest – a reflection of the country’s unbelievably gregarious and helpful population — is now in its 15th year yet exhibits the vitality of a young up-and-comer.”

Thanks for joining us Lauren Wissot, it was a pleasure to host you in Bermuda!

Local press critiques BIFF 2012 feature lineup

The local press, The Royal Gazette and Bermuda Sun, were busy watching pre-screeners of the BIFF 2012 features in the weeks leading up to the fest.

Their verdicts are now available online The Royal Gazette and The Bermuda Sun. Did you see any of the films they reviewed? Do you agree with what they had to say?!

 

which best live-action short will win the oscar

indieWIRE weighs in on who will win the Short Film (Live Action) Oscar. This is the category for which BIFF is a qualifying festival!

Tyrannosaur Review

Our good friends over at Cinespect give BIFFlix November selection Tyrannosaur a glowing review. Check out the full review here.

Tyrannosaur: Movie Review A-

criticWIRE share there thoughts on the British film Tyrannosaur when it first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Click here for the full review.

Certified Copy: Movie Review B+

BIFF attendee and film critic Peter Rainer shares his thoughts on this month’s Bifflix selection. Check out the full film review here.