The Price of Bones (2016): Diet by Proxy (Review)

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Written and produced by Samantha Kolesnik, The Price of Bones is directed by Brandon Taylor and stars Lisa Dennett ,Summerisa Bell Stevens  and Jordan Anton. The film follows Caprice (Stevens) and Heather (Anton) as they both work to be so skinny that their bones show.  

The film opens with Caprice at home with her domineering mother (Dennett). The young woman does not eat the pancakes and scrambled eggs on offer  and after some pretty heavy bickering, puts the plate in the fridge.

This exchange reveals much about each person at the breakfast table.  Caprice and her mother are both experts at passive aggressive tactics and this war has been going on for some time. Witness the  state of that breakfast; eggs overcooked and pancakes that are flat in texture and  albino in colour. It was never meant to be eaten.

(Later in the film, at dinner, Caprice is served  a steak burnt black with a side of overdone vegetables. The battle continues.)

Caprice runs with her friend Heather and both girls seem obsessed with losing weight. They point out each other’s bones and Caprice makes a joke about everyone being able to see Heather’s.

This is a game, Heather is truly anorexic while Caprice only appears to be.

The Price of Bones is a skillful look at the real problem of anorexia and just how far sufferers will go to be “thin.”   The makeup shows clearly the health problems associated with this disease/disorder. Both the girls have bad complexions, circles under their eyes and “whitish” lips. Heather more than Caprice, it should be pointed out.

They are overly tired and Heather, at least, has self image problems as well.  In this relationship, she is  the weaker of the two.

Kolesnik and Taylor have presented a story within a story here.  There is much more going on than just a fight to be “skinny.” It is about power,  deception and being a predator.  Without giving too much away  just observe the final scenes of the film and all will be revealed.

This is a splendid bit of short cinema here.  On one level it focusses on things that are food related. There is a reference to Sylvia Plath (author of “The Bell Jar” ) who committed suicide by gassing herself in her kitchen oven. The scenes with the mother deal with a parent over-stressing how much her daughter eats.

It also deals with self image and self perception: “That’s what happens when you grow up…you disappear.”  The Plath reference also mentions disappearing as does one of the young women.   

Overall the film looks good. The cinematography and lighting are both dark, till the end, and help set the mood of the film.  The lack of musical score enhances the scenes between Caprice and her mother. It also promotes a sort of fly-on-the-wall feel.

This is easily one of the best short films of 2016 with a dark and multi-layered plot that is truly disturbing on many levels.

The Price of Bones falls just shy of perfection with its opening  “title card.”   A 4.5 star short film that should be seen if at all possible. The Price of Bones  has entered the film festival circuit.

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A Way of Life: Despondency and Death

Written by Christopher Romano, who also stars as the film’s protagonist Carl Reed, and directed by Viraj Nayar (Dice) A Way of Life is morality tale of sorts and also a cautionary one. It is a story of a young man struggling to do what is right by his daughter.

Image provided by Christopher Romano.

Written by Christopher Romano, who also stars as the film’s protagonist Carl Reed, and directed by Viraj Nayar (Dice)  A Way of Life is morality tale of sorts and also a cautionary one.  It is a story of a young man struggling to do what is right by his daughter. Unfortunately his  criminal record and having to live  with a grandmother who has no sympathy for his predicament makes Carl’s life beyond difficult.

Carl faces eviction from his grandmother’s house and possibly  losing his child as he searches to find another job that will allow him to pay rent and keep going on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, no one wants to hire an ex convict and he only has a week to find enough money to pay his and his daughter’s way.

Reed visits his brother John who is still in the life and is offered a spot  in the next robbery. John and his wastrel friend Mark are to carry out the job and Carl is to be the get away driver. After initially turning the two down, a fight with his Grandmother leads him to accept.

The consequences of Carl’s decision are horrific.

A Way of Life is a look at the frustration of having a record, a family to look after and the problems of re-integrating into society. Even more vexing than these issues is the reality of a young man making poor life choices early on who is still paying the penalty.

In a society not prepared to offer an ex-con another chance the young man feels pressured to return to what he desperately wants to stay away from. Carl is, for all intents and purposes the “everyman” who has gotten into trouble and now has difficulty keeping his nose clean.

Christopher Romano does a great job as the loving father who is frustrated by his situation and bullied by his apparently unloving grandmother (played with a rough coarseness by Patsy Meck.

The film looks crisp and DP Zachary Van Heel brings a wealth of experience to the job and it  shows. Editor Justin Santoro puts the film together well and the cast all bring something to the party here. A Way of Life is a grim look at the aftermath of having served a sentence.

A cracking little film, A Way of Life is festival bound having been accepted to two festivals this year. Diamond In the Rough Cut Film Festival in Bristol, Pennsylvania will air the film April 8th. While the second screening will be at the 25th annual Arizona International Film Festival in Tucson AZ between April 14 and May 1, this year.

This is a cracking first effort and worth a look. Head on down to either festival, if you can, and watch this film. Until the festival’s start, have a  look at the trailer below and see what you can expect from the film.

The Girl in the Woods (2015): Short and Simple

Poster for The Girl in the WoodsWritten and directed by Tofiq Rzayev, based on Rzayev’s English screenplay, The Girl in the Woods is a short film based on a simple concept. A friend goes missing suddenly and then sends a text, “Find me.” As the characters discuss their feelings about the missing friend, one actively searches for him and finds more than he bargained for.

While the story is interesting it is slow and dialogue heavy. Despite this the viewer does want to learn what happened to the missing friend and fiancee. Elements of a mysterious woman in the woods, barefoot and immaculate in a white dress, along with the other characters irritation at the missing man create a certain disconnect.

The film, apart from lighting issues in the wood scenes and a lipstick problem, looks good. The cinematography for the interior scenes and the exterior night shoot are clear and crisp and framed well. There are some issues with sound where either the background, or the equipment, noise is too intrusive and spoils the mood.

Overall, an interesting little film that suffers from too much dialogue and too little action. The cast, however, do well with their roles. All the actors, with the exception of Gizem Aybike Sahin, are first timers and they perform adequately in the time allotted. Deniz Aslim as Mert is earnest and concerned as the friend searching for his pal. Cevahir Casgir as the title character makes the transition from interesting to creepy easily.

The Girl in the Woods is Rzayev’s 11th short and it currently being entered into the festival circuit. The film, despite being very heavy in terms of dialogue, does feel like a slice of “everyday” life with a dramatic slant.

’54 Days’ Independent Australian Film Is Truly Gripping (Review/Trailer)

’54 Days’ Independent Australian Film Is Truly Gripping (Review/Trailer)

54 Days, an independent Australian film from Tim R. Lea is a truly gripping bit of work that goes to show just how great cinema is that comes from Oz. It has to be pointed out that of the best horror and science fiction films out of the last 20 years, quite an impressive number have come from “the land down under,” and this award winning festival favorite joins a lot of popular movies that have either become cult favorites or great additions to a film genre.