Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Logan Sandler's LIVE CARGO: the non-touristy Bahamas as we've seldom seen them on film

A side of the Caribbean moviegoers don't often see -- that of the lives of the natives who permanently live and work on the islands -- is brought to minor life and interest by co-writer (with Thymaya Payne) and director Logan Sandler (shown below). On the plus side is the film's lovely black-and-white cinematography (by Daniella Nowitz) that takes us from gorgeous seaside and underwater scenes to grungy bars and homes that seem to lack indoor plumbing. Also worth considering is the chance to see this location from a different and decidedly non-touristy angle.

Another plus is the professional cast rounded up by the filmmaker, the performances of which are all as good as the material the actors were given to work with. Which brings us to LIVE CARGO's major problems, which include just about everything else the movie has to offer. Said to be based upon the filmmaker's own experience as he grew up in and around The Bahamas, the film's would-be "hero" -- Sam Dillon, as the oddball, mother-problemed man named Myron (shown below) -- even looks a good deal like director Sandler. 

The filmmaker has divided his movies into a quartet of people, beginning with our aging boy Myron. We also have a couple, Nadine and Lewis, played by Dree Hemingway (below, left) and Keith Stanfield, (below, right), the latter of whom, under the name Lakeith Stanfield, just made a bit of a stir in Get Out. (Mr. Stanfield has also worked under the name, Lakeith Lee Stanfield, so I hope by now he has decided upon his permanent moniker.) Nadine and Lewis have come to the island, to a home her family has long owned, to grieve over the death of their child.

We also have two native families, those of patresfamilias, Roy (Robert Wisdom, below) and Doughboy (Leonard Earl Howze), both of whom exert a certain control on the island, the former for mostly good, while the latter deals in human trafficking via Haiti.

Unfortunately, Mr. Sandler is unable to develop any of these characters past the point of one-note cliche, and the movie's 88-minute running time is too often devoted to individual moments the director has chosen that simply don't add up to much in terms of either deepening his characters or advancing the plot. In addition, his pacing is glacial,  

Overall, Sandler and Payne have provided very little dialog, which may be just as well, since what there is they mostly devote to either exposition or needless repetition. The bereft couple grieves (over and over), Myron waffles and makes a bunch of wrong decisions, the two islanders do exactly what you'd expect of them, and it all comes together in a burst of silly-but-expected melodrama that uses so much coincidence that it becomes instead coinci-dunce.

But that, of course, provides the happy ending all these poor characters need (except the naughty one, who gets his comeuppance). The final shot is of our hero, butt-naked and about to either baptize himself, bathe away those recent sins, or maybe just drown his poor ass. By this time, if you give a shit, you clearly have more patience and/or goodwill than I.

From Gunpowder & Sky Distribution, Live Cargo opens this Friday, March 31, in New York (at the Cinema Village) and Los Angeles (at the Arena Cinema). and will probably soon enough make its way to DVD and VOD, as well.

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