Monday, November 3, 2014

Don’t Look Back

Don’t Look Back - 85min – Not Rated

William Dickerson tweeted me, asking me to review his film. It’s on iTunes so I paid for a copy and gave it a look. I was pleased with the result. This is a nice small production. The story focuses around a central character in a small town who is dealing with her past. I am a huge fan of small, well-done productions. They seem to have a lot of spirit when done right. This film is a well-deserved green light.

Nora Clark (Lucy Griffiths) is an author of children’s books. Her grandmother (Holly Kaplan) recently passed away and left her the house she grew up in. She seems to be having writers block so she goes to the house to get away and start writing the next book in her series. She meets Peyton (Cassidy Freeman) who is looking for a room to rent. They become friends and as Nora starts to write she asks Peyton to do the photography for the new book. Their friendship grows but is also tested because Nora’s past comes back to haunt her and Peyton seems to be more than she is letting on.

The psychological journey going back to your childhood and revisiting your past is a great subject. That’s what gives the audience a connection with this film. We have all had those moments of reflection. Not saying everyone has had the same past as Nora but that uncertainty of returning to the home you grew up in is a common feeling for all of us. The setting this movie takes place in is a wonderful idyllic, quaint and quiet town.

This story unwraps the layers of Nora’s history like a present. Slowly undoing the ribbons and paper to see what is in the box of her mind. In the film the use of the popsicle house is used to great effect to show us the progression of Nora’s journey. As much as Nora pushes this symbol into her past, Peyton embraces it and completes the house. The similarities in their characters play well with this imagery.

The cast was spectacular. The performances complimented each other very well. There was chemistry with all of them. I liked the relationship between Peyton and Nora. They played well off of each other and build that close connection. It was nice seeing Roddy Piper in another film, though it was a bit hard to watch him play this role so well. To me, he will always be Nada standing in the bank saying “I have come to chew bubble gum and to kick ass… and I am all out of bubblegum.” I still use that whenever I can in online games.

There is an HD version and an SD. It’s worth the extra few bucks for the HD version. The shot composition is really well done. With the beautiful Idyllwild as a backdrop it makes for great eye candy and you might as well enjoy it in its fullest depth of color and scope. The scenes are really put together well.

I had a chance to talk with the Director via Email here is our conversation.
What drew you to this story?

I'm primarily drawn to a theme, or themes, in a movie before I decide to make it. I find myself drawn consistently to the theme of "rebirth," which was the major theme in my film "Detour." The idea of rebirth is also threaded throughout "Don't Look Back." While it's a psychological thriller on the surface, the film is a latent coming-of-age story at its core. Albeit a twisted one. Nora hasn’t really yet become an adult, emotionally speaking. She is stuck due to her childhood trauma; until she confronts it, she can't fully grow into her present self. Her character arc, for all intents and purposes, leads to a cathartic rebirth into a new self. This idea fascinates me.

What was your favorite part to shoot?

It's hard to write about it without giving a key moment of the movie away! Though, it's like that with most of the movie, since there are a number of twists and turns. There is a death scene that is filmed through the viewfinder of the 3D camera -- if I have to pick one part of the film that I had the most fun shooting, I'd have to pick that!

What project are you working on next?

I'm writing several screenplays with my partner, Dwight Moody, several of which we would like to put into production. We are also writing a TV pilot that may, or may not, have to do with aliens.

What is your dream film to shoot?

My dream, my passion project, is to shoot the adaptation of my novel, "No Alternative." It's a coming-of-age drama set in the world of suburban American teens in the early 90's. One of the teens, Thomas Harrison, starts his own alternative band, which becomes an obsession that blinds him to what’s either the mental collapse, or the eruption of musical genius, of his little sister, Bridget. Bridget boldly rejects her brother’s music by taking on the persona of an X-rated gangsta’ rapper named “Bri Da B.” I think the landscape of the early 90’s – the “grunge era” of music and the lifestyle that went along with it – is something that evokes a great deal of nostalgia for people right now. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Kurt Cobain and nostalgia for the 90’s is at a fever pitch. The remarkable thing about kids in the 90’s is that every kid felt alone, alienated – from their schools, from their family, from themselves – but they were all alienated together. The music that filled the air between them was the glue that connected them all.

When did you start getting the bug for filmmaking?

When I was a kid, my grandfather gave me his old camcorder, and I filmed everything I could with it. My first "legit" film was an adaptation of Agatha Christie's "Ten Little Indians" that I made in 6th grade. I was allowed to make a film in lieu of writing a book report. Thank you, Mrs. Burke.

How did you start?

"Ten Little Indians!" As legit as that project was, I really started to get going when I made a few shorts that got into festivals and got me accepted to the American Film Institute as a Directing Fellow.

Who were and are your influences?

The first time I realized there was a creative mind behind filmed entertainment was while watching television in the early 90's. I was watching Episode 8 of "Twin Peaks" as a kid and something just clicked: there was someone behind the curtain, and that someone held my emotions in his hands like a palm full of putty. That someone was David Lynch, of course. He is a big influence. As is Scorsese, Hitchcock, Spielberg, Bunuel, Kubrick and De Palma, among lots of others.

No comments: