Showing posts with label short film. Show all posts
Showing posts with label short film. Show all posts

Monday, April 8, 2019

Meeting Brown (2019) Personalizes the Divide between Love, Race and Racism

What do you do when the one you love turns out to be the opposite of what you thought? Great relationships can feel like they’re built on honesty and trust, but one brief meeting with her fiance’s best man Richard (Andrew J. Cornelius) changes everything for Alex (Diana Gonzalez-Morett) – a hopeful Latinx bride who sees her white partner’s true colors about their cultural differences.

Meeting Brown draws attention to the complex lines drawn between love, race, and racism. Director and writer Ana Lydia Monaco, a rising Latina filmmaker, tackles diversity by bringing representation to women of color to the screen with experiences from her own community. Realizing how often she didn’t see herself and fellow people of color onscreen, Monaco’s transformed her observations with bicultural couples to create a distinct narrative about life as a woman of color.

Nervous yet excited for her doubtful maid-of-honor to meet her fiancĂ© John (Sean Dube) and his best man, Alex believes John is exactly the man she wakes up to every morning. Life is seemingly smooth between the two of them until that fateful evening when the four of them spend time together – or rather, Alex and Rocio (Sonia Diaz) try to navigate Richard’s ignorant remarks about their heritage and identity while John goes along with the "jokes". His continual dismissal of his future wife's feelings and invites an alarming realization to Alex about his own excuses about Richard’s behavior. Monaco’s script paces well between the dreamy state of bliss Alex thought her life was and the slow realization of John's beliefs aren't what she ever imagined.

Even though the film’s primary focus of the cracks deepening in a romantic relationship, there’s a genuine relevance, especially in our current political climate, of how much we might be expected to accept other people’s behaviors as they are. It might be out of fear of losing or creating a rift between a family member, friend, or acquaintance, there's a personal responsibility of recognize what individuals of other communities withstand and persevere. How we treat someone’s culture in our own lives speaks to how society treats minorities on a whole – women, people of color, LGBTQ, people with disabilities. Meeting Brown is succinct and to the point of how what most consider microaggressions, small acts of ignorance, start to add up whether we are bystanders or in the direct line of dangerous judgement and attacks.

As a ten minute short film, Meeting Brown presents a thorough examination of what Latina women encounter. Her cast carries the story well with performances by Gonzalez-Morett, Sean Dube, Sonia Diaz, and Andrew J. Cornelius. Even though there is an increasing divide between the film's leads, the actors share a palpable chemistry together as their idyllic relationship starts to present true issues. Monaco’s attention to detail and the experiences she has witnessed in her own life creates a refreshing defiance of the typical roles women of color are presented with on-screen and shines a light on the daily conflicts they encounter in real life.

Please Note: I was provided with a screener of this movie in exchange for an honest review. Meeting Brown is currently making the rounds at film festivals this year. Check out more of Ana Lydia Monaco past and current work at her official website.

Rating: ★★☆

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Monday (2018) Packs A Big Punch For The Short Film Circuit

Sometimes it's not the budget that makes a short film good, it's the production team rallying behind it that counts. Following in director Robert Rodriguez's footsteps, independent filmmaker Alejandro Montoya Marin participated on El Rey's network show Rebel Without A Crew where creators banded together to create an original film. Armed with $7,000, no crew, two days to prep and fourteen days to film his project, Marin creates a fun action movie reminiscent of today's blockbusters.

Jim (Jamie H. Jung)'s life is about to change in the worst ways when he loses his job and his girlfriend gives up on their relationship. Caught in the crossfire of two hit women aiming to take down a drug cartel, Jim is on the run for his life and standing up for himself once and for all.

As the story counts down Jim's day starting off as bad as it can be and only getting more bleak and chaotic from there, what Martin and the cast were able to put together in such a short amount of time shines. Each actor has a fitting on-screen presence for their characters and working well as an ensemble. It's difficult to single out any singular actor in particular, but Kenneth McGlothin exudes a perfect big personality as Jim's friend Paul and Anna Schatte/Sofia Embid have a commanding, intimidating bad-ass presence as the hit women at odds with each other's plans. But the entire cast has good comedic timing and offers solid reminders of similar action-comedies like Horrible BossesThe Other Guys or 21 Jump Street . It's also worth it to stay through the end credits for bloopers and a post-story catch-up with Jim's old business acquaintance.

Monday showcases a lot of potential for Marin as a filmmaker. The story trails in the footsteps of comedies and action movies that you would see today with leading stars like The Rock or Kevin Hart. His direction is seamless, especially with the sound editing adding clever bytes for specific lines of dialogue and an energetic soundtrack. As the writer of the film too, there's a real sense of love for film-making with Marin's clever dialogue and nods to pop culture. The only slight stumbles are a few one-liners that feel random and out of place. However, it's tough to imagine how much of a rush the production must have been to work together, but the limitations doesn't show in the slightest. For a film that only runs an hour long, there's a lot to unpack and it makes for a fun Friday night short film to check out. Hopefully it's the start of bigger and better films to come for everyone.

Please Note: I was provided with a screener of this movie in exchange for an honest review. Monday premieres on the El Rey network on Feb 18 at 10 EST and will be available video-on-demand. You can currently watch Rebel Without A Crew on El Rey and Alejandro is getting ready for his next project on IndieGogo.

Rating: ★★☆

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Story of 90 Coins (2015) charmingly explores the promises of love

When people in fall in love, we tend to make a lot of promises. But what happens when love itself can't be kept? Director Michael Wong makes his directorial debut with The Story of 90 Coins, a beautifully charming story that tells so many sides of falling in love - how it is a commitment, the fresh spark between two people, and the complications of regret.

Wang Yuyang (Han Dongjun) wants to be with Chen Wen, an aspiring fashion designer, for the rest of their lives. But she doesn't feel the same way. At first he makes a promise to prove his love to her for 90 days. Every time they meet each other, he gives her a coin. At the end of the deadline, if she still feels the same way they will merely use the coins to toast each other farewell. Otherwise, they'll eventually use their collection to get married. Along the way a relationship blossoms between them and the promise of the coins falls away. But Chen isn't fully committed in the relationship as he is; she's aiming to own a house in the city and take her fashion career to the next level, thus calling into question what happens when love needs to be more than a promise.

For a film that runs less than ten minutes, it's simple and straightforward as well as absolutely charming and sweet. When jumping into this world briefly, the production design is luscious with every frame taking on the scale of a bigger motion picture. Of which the actors, Han Dongjun and Zhuang Zhiqi are marvelous. As their characters' similarities and differences are explored, they deliver such endearing and well-rounded performances. It's easy to feel everything they do throughout the highs and lows their relationship.

It's difficult not to walk away from this story without harboring a lot of feelings to ruminate. The coins act as their "in" for falling in love and marking the wonderful memories they made. A promise of love is alluring and might lead to a grander experience, but relationships also require understanding and engagement from both sides. The parallel of Yuyang and Wen falling in love and growing distant tugs at heartstrings in all of the right places.

The film fills in a lot for nine and a half minutes, which works for and against the movie's favor. As simple and poetic as the simple piano score by Wei An is, at times it felt distracting and repetitive, taking me out of the journey portrayed by the actors. The other issue belongs slightly to the script which crops up a lot of questions about the couple without feeling like they're properly answered. The story itself could've used a bit of fine-tuning in terms of conflict or exploring more of the disconnect between Wang and Chen. Depending on where your heart lies on whether or not the couple should stay together, the ending can feel abrupt. But otherwise, there's so little significant downfalls to pick on.

As a directorial debut, The Story of 90 Coins is an impressive short film. Wong and the cast have earned top prizes at prestigious festivals around the world since it premiered in 2015. Having previously been an art and creative director in advertisement, there are influences of that industry throughout, but the short still manages to be remarkably well-rounded. Speaking to the complications and joys of falling in love, the story is truly touching with two talented leads and gorgeous production design. To watch The Story of 90 Coins, it's available on Vimeo.

Rating: ★★☆
Have you watched The Story of 90 Coins?
What did you think?