Review : Green Days by the River

A Trinidadian boy on the edge of adult responsibilities, Shellie moves to a new village and meets two girls. He is charmed by Rosalie but also attracted to the more cheerful and accessible Joan.

Green days by the River is an extremely popular and well received book from author Michael Anthony. It tells a classic coming of age story, but with some twists and turns that make it distinctly Trinidadian. This feature adaptation is directed by Michael Mooleedhar, with an adaption for the screen by Dawn Cumberbatch. There is definitely a lot to like here, but we have some problems to address also. The good here is that Sudai Tafari who is charged with the title role of Shellie, does a great job in his subtle and nuanced performance here. He does a great job anchoring the film, and keeping it grounded. The rest of the main cast here is also good, and the occasional bad delivery or over acted scene is balanced by Tafari’s performance. The score here also, while it could be a bit over bearing at times, definitely suited the material. The story of Green days is certainly a small one, but I felt like the film itself was made to feel a bit too small. It was as if a minimal amount of scenery was used to represent a much larger area. This leads into some of the movies main problems. To start, I’m not sure what the desired effect of the editing was, but it just served to chop up the movies pace, and maybe try and cover up a lack of content to provide a more flowing narrative. There is a lot of great scenery to be had here, but it felt like it was more opportunistic than planned, and in this story, Mayaro where this story takes place is a character in itself. Also it’s needs to be said that one of the most titular moments of the book, is over in a flash with little or the tension, pain, and despair of its novel counterpart. I don’t know if it was a budgetary issue, or a lack of the requisite tools, but I think any book fan would be disappointed with the movies version of those events. All in all, Green Days is a movie that gives us parts of the story we love, but lacks the authenticity of the novel it’s based on. I do think it’s worth seeing, but I wish I could recommend it more highly. (Also those big Tobago dogs were pretty skinny man).

Review Score: 6.5 out of 10

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Review : The Cutlass

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“Inspired by true events, THE CUTLASS is a dramatic thriller set in the tropical wilderness of Trinidad and tells the story of a young woman who falls into the grasp of a dangerous sociopath. She finds herself isolated and musters the courage to emotionally battle the unsettled mind of her abductor.”

As the summary implies, this movie both takes place and was made by and in Trinidad and Tobago (so if you’re not from or in the Caribbean you might not be able to see this one). Its written by Teneille Newallo, and directed by Darisha Beresford, and it boasts a genuinely diverse cast across all levels. The movie itself is definitely more good than bad, but first, the good. Arnold Goindhan who plays the antagonist here, has the meatiest role, and the most heavy lifting, acting wise to do here, and he does a pretty good job. He does come across as sincere in his more vulnerable moments, and when he keeps his portrayal subtle, he really shines. He does this across from Lisa-Bel Hirschmann, who definitely keeps her acting as subtle as possible, but for the most part doesn’t have as much to play against. Her most emotional scene however, is done really well, and she does tug on the heart strings with her performance there. I do think some of the cinematography does lack a bit of imagination, as I think it would have allowed for some more powerful scenes with some better framing. I also did have some problems with the sound, not in that it was bad, or not done properly, there just were a few times when I felt in either the ADR, or straight audio mixing of the audio, that some dialogue didn’t feel like it was happening in the situation, but sounded more like a voice over. The score I also wasn’t too impressed with, for the most part it was very subdued and subtle, and thats fine, but I felt like when it really needed to swell and help impart some emotion or suspense, it came off a bit lack luster. And lack luster is how I would define the ending of this movie, for most of it, everything in the movie is building towards to a head, towards some kind of resolution, and you just never get it. There is an ending here, and there are definite resolutions in the script, but things don’t feel resolved, they feel like what we invested in before, was fully paid off. I know I probably sound like I really don’t like this film, but I did like it, the things that it did well, it genuinely did. There are some problems here yes, like any movie really, but this movie definitely shows the raising levels of Caribbean film making. Production wise this is one of the best local (local meaning Trinidadian) films I’ve seen. All in all, I do encourage anyone who has the opportunity to check this movie out to do so, supporting local industries is important for growth, and there is definitely enjoyment to be had in this movie.

Review Score : 7 out of 10

Review : Bazodee

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“A chance encounter between Anita and Lee, shakes up both of their worlds and leading to new sensations and a whole lot of bacchanal.”

Bazodee tries to blend the worlds of romantic comedy, Bollywood style musicals and a mix of acting and musical talent. Does it work? Kind of. So before I get to the things I like about this movie, I want to address the two biggest problems I have with it. The first I’m sorry to say, is that while Machel Montano is probably the greatest entertainer to ever come out of Trinidad and Tobago, he is no actor. The biggest issue with this is that there are¬†occasions where the movie tries to build certain things up, but when they are put on his acting, they fall down. The second thing that held this movie back for me was the absolute lack of sympathy for the actual love story between the title characters here. Anita’s soon to be husband is portrayed literally as the perfect man in every manner from his looks, to his job, to his affection and attention to Anita, and as such, it is really hard to go with her and support a lot of the decisions she makes.The times when this movie does break out into song and dance, the movie switches over to a very obviously voiced over, studio sang audio track that keep taking me right out of the movie. It was the sound mixing in particular that was the issue, it keep making it feel like these character who are supposed to be in real life, were all of a sudden lip syncing to some track, as opposed to sounding like there were still in their environment and with those emotions. My problems aside, there is enjoyment to be had here. As expected the music in this movie is very good, and there are some nice change ups to songs we know and love to help fit the movie and make them a bit more relevant to the story. There are also a lot of laughs to be had, and some of them are pretty good ones too. All in all, Bazodee has some stand up and some fall down areas, and these falls do keep it back from being as fun and exciting as I think it could have been.

(Also, i don’t know if it was just me, but there was this one light that was over the table they would use in Shakers that annoyed me for some reason, no idea why, lol.)

Review Score : 6 out of 10