Kinnari (2017): An Inner Monologue (Review/Video)

David Gaziano in Kinnari

Kinnari: An ancient Indian stringed instrument, Southeast Asian mythology, Kinnaris, the female counterpart of Kinnaras, are depicted as half-bird, half-woman creatures. Alt: Someone who exhibits random outbursts of weirdness.

Written and directed by Christopher Di Nunzio, Kinnari is an introspective piece with just a touch of India. More tandoori than tikka masala, the flavour is less intrusive than it is tantalizingly on the edge of the palette.

David Graziano is David. A man looking at his life, savoring memories as he looks forward and backward at his existence.  Remembering times past in distant locales, he carries on an internal dialogue with himself, while questioning the meaning of it all.

David thinks back to when he was younger and of his pursuit of the Kinnari (Jamie Joshi). A time when beauty and being in the moment was all. He is now lamenting  his very loneliness as this empty existence has left him childless and without a partner. 

The tone of the film is dark, yet full of philosophical questions and it serves as a sort of warning. David is older, dissatisfied with his situation and he realizes too late the folly of his younger self’s actions.

This under five minute monologue, filmed in black and white is full of colorful descriptions and contains just a hint of a mythological theme. Is the Kinnari to blame for David wasting his youth searching for the wrong things, or, in his autumn years is he making the creature a scapegoat?

Cinematographer Nolan Yee (A Life Not to Follow, Delusion, Trinity) manages to make each frame a testament to what David is thinking and doing. The lighting mixes into a deft collaboration of light and shadow that enhances the musings of a disaffected older man.

While the message seems to be one of “finding an answer” it feels more like a warning to others. Di Nunzio shows the impossibility of searching for that elusive beauty. The character of David believes that the woman he follows will allow him to live in that beauty forever.

This belief, that what they have can be trapped in a sort of existential amber; timeless and unchanged, is responsible for David’s current state of mind and solitary existence.

Di Nunzio presents his short tale in a somber yet compelling manner. As his protagonist muses his fate and the past that brought him here, the views move from the abstract to the fanciful.  It is a journey that one feels must be followed to its conclusion.

Kinnari is a solid 3.5 star effort. Perhaps a bit to eclectic for some and a touch too philosophical for others, it is,  nonetheless, presented in an interesting and absorbing manner.

Graziano, a personal favorite whose face speaks volumes, manages to make his character resentful, melancholic and fatalistic all in under five minutes.

This is an interesting project that bears watching not once, but several times.  There are nuances in each scene;  both from a character standpoint to the theme of each framed shot, that make themselves known with repeated viewings.

Christopher has given Mike’s Film Talk permission to share the entire film and we have included it below. Watch it and see what you think and please share your ideas.

Delusion (2016): A Long Time Coming (Review)

David Graziano as Frank Parrillo in Delusion

Written and directed by  Christopher Di Nunzio (A Life Not to Follow, Under the Dark Wing) Delusion is a slow dark look at the grieving process set against an urban backdrop. There is a mixture of the paranormal and a touch of evil as a man tries to come to grips with his wife’s death. 

David Graziano is Frank Parrillo, a widower who is still haunted by the death of his wife Isabella (Carlyne Fournier) three years previously.  Frank has just received a letter from Isabella, written before she died. This posthumous delivery starts Frank on a journey of self discovery and could lead to the possible corruption of his soul. 

Frank’s search for closure takes a long time.  He speaks with a psychic who does a card reading. She warns him about a new person in his life. She will not, says the card reader,  be good for him.

Parrillo is, as Graziano plays him, a middle class “everyman.” A older chap going through his mid-life crisis alone. Frank tells his nephew early on that he likes younger women.  A fact made clear when he flirts with the young waitress at the diner.

But Frank is a nice fellow. The waitress flirts back and her older customer is delighted that he can connect with her.  It is Parrillo’s “nice guy” actions  that sets him up for a possible fall from grace.

While Parrillo is eager to laugh and joke in public, at home his demeanor is very different. He is plagued by odd dreams and he meets the woman that the psychic warned him about.

Mary (played by Jami Tennille) is unsettling and mysterious.  She and Frank connect but it is clear that they do not really fit.  Tennille gives her character an unnerving personality that vacillates between being interesting and frightening.

Jami Tennille as Mary
Jami Tennille as Mary

Delusion is very slow paced and quite surreal. However, since Di Nunzio is looking at the process of grieving the loss of a loved one, it should be. Grief itself may eventually become a cathartic experience but it always a long time coming.

Everyday tasks and events become surreal in the face of that looming gap. “Seeing” the lost family member, or that sense of expectation where we expect to hear their voice or to see them come around a corner.

Di Nunzio  has taken the mentally tasking experience of grieving the loss of a spouse and given it a supernatural noir touch.

Frank struggles through his days with the aid of medication. He still hallucinates  and relives special moments with his dead wife.  Between his constant memories and the skull face woman he keeps seeing, it brings up the possibility that Parrillo may be imagining the whole thing.

A man in a black suit and red tie pops and there is every chance that this elusive character may have designs on Frank’s well being.

Horror fans who expect jump scares will be disappointed. Although at least one scene will give the viewer a bit of  a start.  Delusion  is more about the mental processes we go through and focuses on the un-nerving and unsettling  aspects of what may or may not be real.

The title says it all. Frank may well be suffering a delusion. After all, these sorts of things are not real.  Or are they?

Having only recently discovered the existence of Graziano he has become a personal favorite in a short space of time. He brings a high level of truth to his portrayal of Frank and it is his presence that keeps the viewer watching.

If there is any complaint about Delusion it would be the pacing. Even though it is understood that this may have been done to echo the real process of dealing with loss, the film does drag a bit.

It is an interesting look at one man’s struggle to deal with his wife’s death.  We get the impression at the start that Frank has been doing very well. The letter from his dead wife changes all that.

Delusion is a solid 3.5 star film.  Had the pacing be that little bit quicker and some of the supporting actors a tad less wooden, this would have been a full 5 star effort. The storyline and Graziano make the film work as does Nunzio’s firm directing and crisp editing.

Christopher tells us that Delusion is still be on the festival circuit.  It will be screening at the Shawna Shea Film Festival on 11 November. The film  just finished being screened at the Hudson Valley International Film Festival in August and Action on Film International Film Festival In September.

The film has been picked up by Cinema Epoch for distribution and is avail to watch via Amazon.com. It will be available on more platforms very soon.

Delusion – Official Trailer from Christopher Di Nunzio on Vimeo.

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A Life Not to Follow: Neo-Noir in Three Acts (Review)

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Directed and co-written by Christopher Di Nunzio A Life Not to Follow  is an inner-city neo-noir in three acts.  With a modern day setting, an old fashioned crime family, a bent cop and a worn-out gumshoe, the film is at once a throw-back and a homage.  

There are three separate vignettes tied together two characters.  A young woman (played by Molly Kay) who is found, lost and then found again.  Another person present in all three storylines is Luca Trapani (Michael Capozzi). 

The first act is all about Eric DiVenardi  (played by Fiore Leo). Eric is a man who took an unwilling fall for another member of a mob family.  Sent to prison at 16, he does a lot of hard time. 

Act two has Luca playing more of a part and it contains a “Godfather” type storyline.

The final act introduces former FBI agent, and insomniac private eye, Tobias King (David Graziano).  He helps young Detective Sylvan (Nick Apostolides) on a case that bent cop Derby (William Bloomfield) will most likely take from the younger man. 

The opening of the film with Eric, is at first glance,  a bit off.  The character speaks oddly, using stilted English and phrases that do not particularly fit. After a few moments however, the ex con’s speech pattern makes perfect sense.

DeVenardi went into prison as a teen and would have been influenced by what he read and watched in the jail.  In a sense, Eric is trying too hard to be correct with his phrasing and it speaks volumes about the character.

All the characters look like they walked right off out of a courtroom or were freshly released from prison.  The  head of the families, the”soldiers,” the cops and the P.I. all scream Italian authenticity and they fit.  Even the women feel like they belong in this world (with the exception of Cushing who is clearly not from this neighborhood.)

A Life Not Followed looks noir down to its very core. The locations, the sets and the environment fit the theme perfectly. Some of DeNunzio’s shots, by cinematographer Nolan Yee, are rich and beautifully framed.

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Rich textures and beautiful  framing.

The casting for this film was spot on.  Major kudos to Capozzi, as the newly “made-man” who is so deceptively gentle at first glance.  The actor impresses and manages to make his character almost likable right up until he commits a few heinous acts.

The real treasure in this film was Graziano as Tobias.  Having only seen him in Chris Esper’s Still Life,  where he played a college professor, it was a surprise to see that the actor convinced equally in both roles.  Graziano was that overly tired private investigator.

Bloomfield was spot on as the dirty cop.

The Life Not Followed looks brilliant.  The editing and the framing of each shot feels right. The film won an award and was nominated for another three.

The camerawork, which feels like it was all hand-held, is crisp and clear.  It features a number of almost extreme close ups and in one sequence, the camera is sped up and slowed down, creating a jolting fast forward effect.

A couple of actors were a tad wooden but overall the dialogue and delivery fit the social stratum of the area.

A Life Not Followed features payback, revenge  and betrayal.  This is an enjoyable film that ladled on the neo-noir.

The film is a worthy 4 stars with an  interesting concept and interaction between the three storylines.

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