Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 20th 2015 Contents B4
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt September 20, 2015
Best of a
With only a fraction of the program-
ming available at press time last week,
the choice was severely limited---but still wide enough to include one of the
best films made this century, and a frequent and highly-deserving former
pick (Prisoners, BEST FILM OF THE DAY, 8.25 pm Fox1W), a sports bio that
rises far above its Disney roots (Miracle, 10 am HBOS), the true story that
reminded the world why Judi Dench is a Dame (Philomena, 12.10 noon FoxCin)
and the Luc Besson sci-fi thriller that is as diverting as it is light (Lucy, 10.15
pm HBO HD). You can also see, free with your cable/DirecTV sub, the film
that got all the notice last year and deserved none of it (Gone Girl, 9 pm Fox
1 HD). All we can be sure the kiddies have are Mike Myers faking the Scots
accent and Eddie Murphy playing the supreme donkey (Shrek the Third, 6.15
pm Cn Cl hi-def, 5.45 pm regular def) and the Cartoon Channel.
Last Days in Vietnam (Rory Kennedy/ 2014/ Documentary-History-War/
USA/ 98 mins/ Unrated but suitable for all ages), 4 pm DirecTV Channel.
if you liked The Fog of War, Citizenfour or Frost/Nixon. Nothing grants
perspective like distance and a generation after the last American soldiers
went home in body bags, the US is able to see that there may have been losers
in Vietnam other than their own 19-year-olds---such as any adult who earned
a Yankee dollar or any child who was given a chocolate bar by a GI.
The real heroes of the last days in Vietnam were not the
Americans who left, but the South Vietnamese who couldn t, and who
absorbed the wrath of the rampant North Vietnamese Communist Army that
swept into Saigon. The ultra-left---even the moderate left---might criticise the
filmmaker for not making those people his main focus, perhaps, but it is
enough that director Kennedy does give them a voice at all in what is an
American documentary focussing on the undeniable heroism of US military
men who disregarded political directives to save South Vietnamese lives.
Honest, compassionate and highly relevant in a world in which Western
arms are destroying civilisation in the Middle East and underlining, yet again,
the differences between Westerners who choose to call the new wave of
sufferers either "refugees" or "migrants".
Whiplash (Damien Chizelle/ 2014/ Drama-Music/USA/ 107 mins/ R for
strong language including some sexual references), 8 pm Max. Watch this if
you liked Boyhood, Foxcatcher or The Wrestler.
Damien Chizelle s film won the Best Supporting Actor and any three minutes
of JK Simmons performance will convince anyone how well deserved the
award is. The film itself requires a titch more suspension of disbelief than
normal from an audience that might be tempted to baulk at the levels of
bitterness and vindictiveness of the music teacher but Simmons plays him
beautifully in all his sordid splendour---and the pacing is so superb that the
viewer doesn t get the time to do anything but sail over the hurdle in time
to the excellent, driving music, which ought to be loved even by those who
profess to hate jazz and/or big bands. The soundtrack of this film is
almost a character of its own. (The film also won the Sound Mixing Oscar.)
A real treat with only the most minor of irritants, like a sliver of eggshell
in a fantastic omelette.
Lakeview Terrace (Neil LaBute/2008/Thriller-Crime-Drama/110 mins/PG-
13), 2.40 pm Paramount. Watch this if you liked The Lincoln Lawyer, Frozen
Ground, or Taken.
A relative oldie and not particularly a goodie, this is yet another flawed
Hollywood movie that cares more about ticket sales than plot loopholes and
character consistency. On another day, or with the full range of choice available
at press time, it would hardly be selected at all. Still, it s got Samuel L Jackson
in one of the leads and Samuel L Jackson is like sex or holidays: even bad
Samuel L Jackson is better than no Samuel L Jackson at all---and he is actually
very good indeed, almost overcoming the limitations of the way his character
is written and coming close to redeeming the movie itself.
Patrick Wilson, who contributed greatly to Ellen Page looking so good in
Hard Candy, in the other lead, is also terrific. They work hard, and their
attempts are both laudable and worth watching, but the film itself peaks at
middling. Better than being kicked in the teeth by LAPD, but not that much.
*Starred films have been chosen in the last three months. Happy Bir'day
A Trifecta of the Week's Best Films on the Box
The annual T&T Film Festival (TTFF) 2015
kicked off last week at the primary locations
MovieTowne, Port-of-Spain, Hyatt Regency Hotel,
and the Film Building, University of the West
Indies. The media was afforded a brief preview of
some of the T&T-made films last weekend.
JANINE CHARLES-FARRAY reviews four of them.
FADE TO BLACK
(Nominated for best local short film---fiction)
One of the most anticipated films of the festival
does not fall within the feature film category, but
among the fictional short narratives. Clocking in at
only 11 minutes, Fade to Black breaks new ground in
indigenous cinematography through the eyes of di-
rector of photography Oliver Milne and director/ ani-
mator Christopher Guinness.
Synopsis: Off the coast of northern Trinidad,
sometime in the near future, Thomas, an elderly man,
struggles to hold on to his memories in his last days.
Meanwhile his caregiver, Angelo, engages in an online
relationship with the nefarious Dark Eyes, which
proves to have costly repercussions.
The public would be familiar with Guinness' work in
the emotive and upbeat fictional short films,
POTHOUND and Captain TnT, which have been both
critically acclaimed and gone viral several times over
in the past four years. Fade to Black, shot in Guinness'
signature short clip editing style with animation and
VFX-styled infusions, is decidedly darker in tone and
In every project, Guinness seems to draw heavily
from his own life and personal inspiration. Fade to
Black is no different. Describing the past year as a
"tough time," Guinness was severely impacted by the
loss of his father and other personal life changes.
Fade to Black, perhaps unintentionally, questions the
significance of holding on to the past with a poignant
sense of longing for things that are gone and it
closely examines the importance of memories.
Fade to Black is not a superficial film. It delves
deeply and without hesitation into cerebral and spiri-
It was an absolute pleasure to see veteran and ac-
claimed actor Albert Laveau (as the oldest version of
lead character, Thomas) in what could be one of his
most memorable and signature performances on film.
There was an exciting juxtaposition of the choice of
Laveau as the older version of Thomas set within this
futuristic and cutting-edge narrative. It felt momen-
tous, almost like the meeting of two forces, tradi-
tional stage theatre and the new creative medium,
film. Laveau brought a gravitas and legitimacy to a fu-
turistic portrayal of T&T.
It is a science-fiction short film with deep mes-
sages about love, loss and longing. Fade to Black so-
lidifies Guinness' signature aesthetic and is perhaps
one of the best and most cutting edge film produc-
tions from a T&T filmmaker to date.
DOWN AND OUT
Down and Out is a short documentary from students
of the BA in film at the University of the West Indies. It
was produced by current Year Three students David Vil-
lafanna, Michaela Spenser and Shanice Martin.
Synopsis: The film explores what may be one of the
overlooked ills of society, the occurrence of homeless-
ness and the efforts currently being made to assist
those displaced and on the streets.
The students consulted with the St Vincent De Paul
centre as well as the Centre for Socially Displaced Per-
First-hand accounts of persons currently dealing with
homelessness were the main narrative of the film. The
message drew the viewer along from horror story to
horror story where the interview subjects told of their
experiences with street life.
Some of the circumstances leading to homelessness
included exposure to drugs and drug abuse, HIV and
Aids, robbery of assets, physical violence, deportation
back to Trinidad and forced placement in a mental insti-
These heart-wrenching accounts were in some cases
difficult to watch and revealed just how easily one could
fall into a situation which robs one of the security of a
place to call home, its lasting effects and the difficulty
of recovering from such a state.
The Centre for Socially Displaced Persons was the
setting for the documentary. Manager of the facility
Roger Watson discussed the continuous struggle the
centre has faced to deliver care and services to those
most in need.
T&T films in bloom JK Simmons, right, plays a bitter music teacher in all his sordid splendour in
MORE INFO & SCREENING TIMES:
Albert Laveau (as the
oldest version of lead
CONTINUES ON PAGE B37
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