icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo Instagram FILM FREEWAY LOGO

blog

Movie news, reviews, features and more thoughts coming soon...

By midlandsmovies, Jun 23 2019 02:19PM




Kobe


2019


Directed by A R Ugas


Kobe is a short crime thriller from West Midlands writer/director/producer AR Ugas, who you may remember from last year’s Return of the Ring.


Lead character Kobe (played by Mathias Andre) is a disillusioned and hungry young man. About to graduate University and pushed hard by a father he sees as overbearing, he’s seen what happens to those who fail to live up to society’s expectations afterwards. In his own words, he wants to work smart and get rich now, not work hard and get rich at 50 – or never.


So when childhood friend Mouse (Dominic Thompson) is released from prison, Kobe jumps at the chance to join him in a life of crime, as they’re hired by a mysterious man (Tee Morris) to knock off a warehouse full of cocaine. But when the address changes, the stakes shoot up and Kobe finds some very hard choices ahead indeed...


The film gives us some wonderful dilemmas, which I won’t go into in too much detail for fear of spoilers. There are two lines that, to me, embody the best parts of this story. “Lions don’t walk with hyenas,” Kobe’s dad says threateningly to Mouse. And later, not long afterwards, when Mouse cautions Kobe to “go to sleep and don’t wake up as the same person you went to sleep as”. Kobe sees himself as a class warrior, defying his father’s middle-class attitudes in favour of running with Mouse and taking on a life of violent crime.


But Mouse knows the truth of it, and is warning him that Kobe the 3rd-year student might not have what it takes to pull this crime off. Kobe the faceless masked criminal might.


Ugas brings his camera in close and handheld, eschewing glossy shots to bring a gritty low-tech feel to this gritty low-tech story. It’s a realistic story told in a no-frills way, which mostly works extremely well.


Some of the scenes felt a little flat and could have used more dynamic editing or movement (Mouse’s argument with his now-ex comes to mind), but once the story gets going there’s no stopping the flow. The only technical area that could use more attention is the sound; sound design is often the first casualty of a low budget, but it’s arguably one of the areas that needs the most attention. Clear, audible dialogue and effective use of soundtrack and sound effects are essential in grabbing and holding an audience’s attention and helping them stay immersed. Some of the dialogue towards the beginning is mumbly, and some of the silent scenes would benefit from music to help evoke emotion.


The cast is superb – Andre shines in moments of conflict where he wrestles with his conscience, and Thompson balances cocky chav with wounded victim of the life he leads. He’s trapped in his life, a bit more explicitly so as we see towards the end, but Kobe chooses to walk his path. No wonder Mouse seems almost frightened by Kobe’s willingness. Tee Morris is another standout, bringing the intensity he had in Climbing Trees and channelling it into the brief but memorable role of a man twisted by anger and hatred.


This is only AR Ugas’ second film, with a third in development (with a title like “We Have the President’s Daughter” it promises to be a slicker and faster-paced affair). It’s clear he has the talent and aptitude to take a tiny budget and deliver an entertaining and moving story. I suspect this is only the beginning of a career to keep an eye on!


Sam Kurd

Twitter @Splend


By midlandsmovies, May 30 2019 01:19PM



Midlands Review - Hope


Directed by Tee Visuals


2019


Hope is a new emotional drama from local director Tee Visuals starring Tenisha White and Andre Pierre as a couple facing sadness and sorrow in their poignant relationship.


Filmed with heavenly sunlight streaming into a bedroom, Hope opens with Jesse (Pierre) waking up his partner Faith (White) before he finds a pregnancy test in the kitchen which she confirms is positive.


Jesse’s happiness is at odds with Faith’s reticence but he suggests the name of ‘Hope’ if the baby is a girl. “We’ve got a long journey ahead of us”, he adds. Very true indeed as we’ll find out later. The director frames and films shots well and the visuals have a high quality sheen to them. The on-set sound is okay but could perhaps do with another pass in the editing suite to balance/boost the consistency of the dialogue volume.


However, the editing is steady and measured and the film has good use of fade-outs and metaphorical white-outs alongside some slow but meaningful scene transitions.


As the couple take their car out into the countryside for a walk in what looks like the Peak District, the tone moves into darker territory with a secret torment apparently under the surface of their relationship. More great shots are filmed here amongst the rolling valleys and hills and the director does well to capture the wide vistas and dramatic lighting of the location.


With a few drone shots as well, the filmmaker really does explore the expansive horizons, perhaps representing an unknown future to come. But here the film flashbacks to 6 weeks prior and we see the couple arguing about the difficulty of conceiving - leading to their potential break-up. 3 days after this, the couple decide to not give up despite the circumstances. But their good intentions may not be enough to see them through.


Hope's use of flashback to uncover plot details is a good but simple device to change and switch focus and create an air of intrigue over the different narrative questions the audience has.


* Some spoilers ahead*


However, as the couple begin to repair their relationship, a slow motion sequence sees Jesse involved in a hit-and-run and even though Faith says ‘yes’ after finding an engagement ring in his pocket, she cannot save him and Jesse passes away.


Sadly, a character as a ghost “twist” is quite overused in the local arena. Even last month with Leaving Home, it used the same conceit and, although I watch more local films than most, it’s a common – albeit powerful – trope that means the short isn’t quite original as it could have been.


That said, there’s enough positives to let it slide as the film has emotional gut punches and scenes that also tug on the heart-strings. And this is down to the performances of the talented White and Pierre. Both convey strong feelings of blame, guilt, sadness and loss and whether it’s a teary glance (White) or a longer passionate speech (Pierre) the two leads really hold the story together.


A bigger but slightly less welcome surprise was Hope’s post-credit scene set 25 years later (!) which featured a note that says “dad’s killer”, police sirens and a young man with a gun. I have to admit that it’s a brave choice but the sequence jolts you into another film entirely and may have been best left off this particular short.


And a melancholy piano-led song adds to the sad tone throughout and a great soundtrack overall from Marco Micucci and music from Punch Records help give the short an angelic vibe.


The (non post-credits) ending of Hope finishes on a positive note with Jesse giving some virtuous advice to instil strength and positivity to Faith to help her deal with the unfortunate situation she is facing, before he leaves her forever.


And as we are shown a drone shot that takes the audience up and away into the celestial heavens, the film’s wholesome and hopeful message very much shines through. With two divine and passionate performances and some heart-breaking scenes, Hope ends up being an impressive short containing a whole host of tender themes provided with conviction and a lot of flair.


Michael Sales



RSS Feed twitter