Saturday, April 5, 2014

Pablo D'Stair's try at a thriller A PUBLIC RANSOM streams free via Vimeo -- if you're interested....

Just about anybody can make a movie these days, it seems (just like anybody, ahem, can start a blog reviewing those movies), but whether the film in question is worth spending time on is another matter. TrustMovies learned about A PUBLIC RANSOM, a black-and-white, 100-minute film from a fellow named Pablo D'Stair, via a compatriot of mine who knows I'll take a chance on a lot of different kinds of films, from folk both known & unknown--& hope for the best.

The best is nowhere to be found here, though there are a few worthwhile things to say about this movie. Mr. D'Stair, whom I believe is shown at right, does have a way with words. His characters never stop babbling, and some of what they say is quick and fun and even sometimes clever. But after only a bit, it begins to be way too much too often. This is particularly true of the filmmaker's leading character, a guy named Steven (played by Carlyle Edwards, shown below and further below) who simply never shuts up. Mr. Edwards seems a pretty good actor, however, and he certainly finds the way in which to deal with D'Stair's over-bearing/over-active dialog. He clearly understands what he & his writer are saying, and so he simply lets it all hang out.

Unfortunately much of that dialog is spoken while Steven is on his cell phone (this film may be make you wish the things had never been invented). This becomes near-laughable as the movie moves along. "Again?!" you ask yourself, annoyed, as scene after scene seems to involve that phucking phone.  (Certain characters Steven speaks to never show up in the flesh. This is fine for a mini-budget but hard on the few performers we actually do see.)

The plot of this would-be thriller is so utterly unbelievable as to make you fear for D'Stair's grasp on reality. His film technique -- said to be a kind of homage to folk like Fassbinder, Bresson, Jarmusch and Akerman, which involves setting the stationary camera in a stable position (not always such an interesting position) and letting his cast (basically three performers) "act" in front of it -- is not much better. Everything is kept at middle- or long-distance. It seems ages before we ever get a close-up to see what our lead character actually looks like.

The other two characters are Steven's best friend, Rene (Helen Bonaparte, above, left), who has an equally fine understanding of this weird dialog thing. Put the two of them together and you get sparks of a sort. But still not much believability.

Even less of that is provided by the third character, Bryant (Goodloe Byron, above, left), a fellow Steven meets by calling the phone number on a homemade "missing child" poster that looks to have been made by the child herself. As the plot thickens into a tale of writers and storytelling, kidnapping, the ransom of the title, murder and maybe suicide, any remote credibility flies out the window. (None of the actors seem to register on the IMDB, nor does the film itself, so perhaps this is a low-profile first-time-out for everyone.)

The reason to keep watching is more to see how bad the movie becomes rather than learning the usual what's-going-to-happen? At times, other better movies may come to mind (Strangers on a Train, for one), and the film is full of movie posters that grab our gaze. But because the film's premise (Steven's involvement in this whole crazy thing) is so lacking in motive and justification (except to prove that his guy is a soulless, narcissistic piece of crap. So, new?) that D'Stair simply gives us no place to go and no reason to go there.

The film is also repetitive and tiresome visually. At least ten, maybe twenty, minutes could have been cut with no appreciable loss to content or understanding. This may be D'Stair's first feature (his only credit on IMDB that I can find is as associate producer on The Canyons), so his work to come may prove better.

For now, anyone interested in viewing A Public Ransom can do so by clicking here, and then going to the Vimeo link, along with the password, that the filmmaker has embedded in his text. Enjoy! Or not.

SPECIAL NOTE: This film is now part of a contest in which you
can view a bunch of new movies and then vote for your favorites
(you must vote for at least three films for your vote to be counted).
Here's the link to the contest and especially to D'Stair's film.

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