Ramin Bahrani has made a new short film that is absolutely pertinent to our environmental situation today… It depicts the life of a plastic bag and his journey at finding his MAKER!!! The plastic bag is given a unique voice by the one and only Werner Herzog! Great piece… a must see! The most poignant line in the film is (paraphrased of course) ” If I were to reunite with my maker I would ask her to make it so that I could die…”! Just fantastic!
I saw the film Night Catches Us tonight by new director, Tanya Hamilton at the New Director’s, New Films Series in New York City at the Lincoln Center. It took sista girl 10 years to make this powerful film in which Marcus (Anthony Mackie, “The Hurt Locker,” “Brother to Brother”) returns to the Philadelphia neighborhood where he came of age during the Black Power movement, protecting a dangerous secret in a struggle against the revolution he once embraced and rediscovering a forbidden love (Kerry Washington, “Ray,” “Lift”). On a grade scale I would give the film a B-. I loved the writing as well as the execution but there were some story holes that caused the film to feel unsatisfying in the end and crazy slow in the beginning. The cinematography was refreshing and was well done considering that it is quite a feat to make period films these days. Tanya used a small incredibly talented cast cast and very few locations within a ten block radius in Philadelphia.
Although the film had its funny moments overall it lacked a major arch as well as a REAL third act… she built the the first and second act of the film and then it just ended. I liked the little girl and more so than a panther film or a film that depicted a slice of black history, I saw the film of a child of the revolution who unfortunately still had to seek out a father figure and for me that was extremely powerful. Tanya was able to suggest volumes without showing much detail and the stock footage and archive sound bites she used definitely gave the film what it needed to really ground us in the period… so did the location of Philadelphia for that matter.
She said it took her 10 years to do this film… god bless her because I would have surely tried to do something else in the interim. Her story is refreshing because it attests to the fact that if you keep knocking, the door will one day open if you got something good enough.
Everything finally fell in place for her for this film… it was originally slated to be Yolonda Ross and Mos Def… I am glad she got Mackie and Washington because as Kerry said tonight during the panel, she and Mackie already had a professional past to work from. The love between the two actors felt real and it was interesting to follow. I just wish Tanya would have structured the first act of the script to deliver more information so we could have gotten into the active lives of the characters quicker.
For me, there was also too much music underscoring the film but that is just my personal opinion… I love music (GO ROOTS!) but I felt that at times the music was trying to create a mood that it didn’t really need to create. Overall there were some great moments in the film and I think that because there were these nice pockets where the film just came alive I can’t give it a bad grade… It gets a B- in my book. I love the little girl Jamara… she’s a gem and I look forward to seeing her in more films as well as seeing what else Tanya has cooking in the kitchen.