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By midlandsmovies, May 8 2018 07:50PM

Knots Untie (2018)

Directed by A-jay Hackett

Writer and director Ajay Hackett’s latest short film is something reminiscent of her childhood. Knots Untie is based around her relationship with her dad when she was little, and ultimately the film consists of some really touching moments as a result.

What I liked about the film is that it had the ability to take the viewer back to when they were a little kid.

There was one shot of our young widower David Stallard and his daughter Harriet Ling reading the day’s papers and that reminded me so much of how I used to copy my grandad when I was little. To be able to take a person back to moments like that is a majorly powerful quality for any film to have, but I have noticed that short films such as this one do very well when they include such scenes.

I think it’s because the films need to compensate for not having the freedom to tell a three hour long saga, because generally speaking, without a decent story to get your teeth into, it can sometimes be difficult to get fully into what you’re watching. By adding these personal touches that connect so strongly with viewers, you can avoid the need for a Lord Of The Rings scale story because you’ve reminded them of something that ultimately keeps their attention focused on the film.

I also thought it was nice that straightaway the film blows out of the water all ideas you might have about what exactly the story is going to be about. The title, along with the opening shot of a sympathy card with a photograph in the background points towards something that potentially could be quite a bleak tale.

However, what we actually get to witness is something quite the opposite. Whilst it’s easy to look at this film and think that it’s about the memories a father has of his daughter when she was growing up, it can also be taken that there is some sort of deeper meaning that we should spend more time being thankful for what we have as opposed to dwelling on what we don’t, which is what I found the contrast between the opening shot and the rest of the film to be very symbolic of.

In terms of how the film was put together, I liked the hazy glow that was given to the times being looked back on. When compared to the present day shots, it was clear that those memories were happy ones because of the editing that had taken place there. It’s something that I’ve seen on a few occasions and I think it’s something that always works well when used in the right way, which was very much the case here.

If you’re looking for a film to take you back to when you were younger, remind you of times gone by, then you could do worse than Knots Untie. Hackett’s story here is one that is clearly deeply personal to her, but it’s one that has a lot of touches that have the potential to reach out to anyone who takes the time out of their day to watch it, which is where I believe it’s greatest strengths lie.

Kira Comerford

Twitter @FilmAndTV101

By midlandsmovies, Feb 13 2018 10:00AM

Jay Bird (2018) dir. A-Jay Hackett

From Raven Pictures comes Jay Bird, a short film about a brash teenager who in the midst of an emotional crisis finds an unlikely ally in the form of a mischievous young girl. Together they seek to help each other overcome their problems that have been weighing them down.

Written and Directed by A-Jay Hackett, Jay Bird opens with beautiful images from Wolverhampton’s West Park where the film is shot on-location. Draped in gorgeous black and white colour, the opening scenes are notably accompanied by a stirring score by young composer Joseph Purdue.

Hackett introduces the audience to Jay (Braidley Wilson) a teenager clearly angry at himself and his surroundings. We see him struggling to compose himself as he walks through the park, aimlessly walking around, throwing stones in the pond out of frustration. The audience is informed Jay has been accused of burning down the family business, a result of another one of his violent outbursts.

Through flashbacks and a non-linear narrative, we get a glimpse inside Jays mind, we see he has a verbally abusive Father (Dan Sheppard) who constantly berates him for acting out and causing trouble.

Hackett does a masterful job as a filmmaker here as she manages in only a few short minutes to create a complex relationship between Father and Son. Even though neither share any scenes together we can see via flashbacks how they’re relationship has developed. Jay asks his Father to stop drinking, “I drink because of you” he retorts. What could have easily been a simple exchange turns into something more meaningful, we get a sight of a Father who wants the best for his son but gets his approach woefully wrong, resulting in a drinking problem to numb the pain.

The film then introduces Alice (Amelie Bate) a confident young girl who claims she isn’t lost but is by herself in the park. She clings onto Jay for company and concerned for her welfare he accompanies her around the park. Her story is like a lightning bolt to Jay which gives him the power to assess his situation, and take his own advice.

Jay Bird is a simple story with complex characters and that’s where the films talent lies. Hackett writes and creates his characters with care, showing each character’s flaws alongside their strengths. With a great score, rich characters and a unique look, Jay Bird is worth checking out.

Guy Russell


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