RiverRun International Film Festival 2018 reviews
And Then I Go (three and a half out of four stars): Directed by Vincent Grashaw.
A powerful and timely adaptation of Jim Shepard’s novel Project X, scripted by the author and University of North Carolina School of the Arts School of Filmmaking graduate/executive producer Brett Haley (The Hero), this a dark and compelling exploration of adolescent rage, persuasively directed by Vincent Grashaw, with School of Filmmaking alumna Rebecca Green as a producer.
Arman Darbo and Sawyer Barch give vivid performances as Edwin and Flake, best friends bonded by their constant bullying at school. The film is sympathetic to their angst and frustration. Both boys are bright, and Edwin displays burgeoning artistic talent, but they don’t fit in with the popular crowd, which essentially suits them just fine. They’d prefer to be left alone, but too often find themselves bearing the brunt of bullying.
The suspense is considerably ratcheted when Flake surreptitiously shows Edwin his father’s stash of firearms and ammunition. Flake reasons this is the best – and perhaps the only – way to strike back against the treatment they’ve received. Edwin clearly has a broader perspective, but Flake is so consumed by anger that he refuses to even consider any other alternative.
There are those who will say that And Then I Go is exploitation, but given the spate of school-related violence it’s more a cautionary exploration of what can happen, and tragically it has – more than once.
This is a sad, powerful, and even important film – bound to provoke debate and discussion, from which perhaps some good can come.
– And Then I Go screens 4 p.m. Saturday, April 28 at UNCSA Main Theatre.
Moss (three stars out of four): Directed by Daniel Peddle.
As he demonstrated in his narrative debut feature, 2015’s Sunset Edge (which was filmed in and around his hometown of Winston-Salem), filmmaker Daniel Peddle has an affinity for characters who exist on the periphery of conventional society, people whose lives are simple and uncomplicated, but scarcely insignificant.
That aspect certainly applies to Moss, a coming-of-age/slice-of-life tale focusing on the title character (Mitchell Slaggert), who has just turned 18 – an age when you may think you know everything, when in reality, you’ve still got a long ways to go. Moss is restless, contemplative, and sometimes cocky. His relationship with his widowed father (Billy Ray Suggs) is occasionally prickly and argumentative, but there’s an unmistakable – if slightly grudging – love between them.
Throughout the day, Moss paddles along the coast of Carolina Beach, taking in the sights and sounds, hanging out with his best bud (Dorian Cobb), a laid-back and likable drug dealer aptly named “Blaze.” He also enjoys a romantic tryst with Mary (sultry Christine Marzano), the quintessential older woman (all of 30), fueled by magic mushrooms.
The ensemble cast is all the more impressive as Moss marks the feature debuts of Slaggert, Suggs and Cobb – all of whom are effortlessly believable. Marzano has a handful of big-screen credits but this is by far her best role to date, and she makes the most of it.
Peddle immediately immerses the viewer into the remote region he’s chosen, with first-timer Juri Beythien’s award-worthy cinematography a standout. The location seems to come alive, even those little corners that aren’t necessarily picturesque. This is a film steeped in atmosphere and heart.
– Moss screens 8:30 p.m. Friday at UNCSA Babcock Theatre and 7:30 pm Saturday at a/perture cinemas.
The World Before Your Feet (three and a half out of four stars): Directed by Jeremy Workman.
Both literally and figuratively, documentary filmmaker Jeremy Workman follows Matt Green; an all-American everyman determined to walk every street in New York City. A journey of approximately 8,000 miles, on his ongoing journey through the Big Apple. Along the way, he – and we – discover that the streets of New York aren’t so mean, after all. Actually, they’re brimming with life, color and/or historical significance – even where you’d least expect it.
Green may act as the “tour guide,” but this is no mere travelogue. The World Before Your Feet celebrates not only the landmarks of New York City but also its rich cultural and ethnic diversity. Vastly enlightening and entertaining, this may be Workman’s best film to date, as well as one of his most accessible.
Even when the film backtracks, so to speak, delving into Green’s personal life, it never once loses its overall momentum. Wherever Green goes, Workman’s camera is right there with him. Beyond a doubt, the results were worth it.
– The World Before Your Feet screens 4:30 pm Thursday, April 26 at a/perture cinemas, 7:30 pm Friday, April 27 at a/perture cinemas, and 4:30 pm Saturday, April 28 at a/perture cinemas.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. © 2018, Mark Burger.
The 20th annual RiverRun International Film Festival runs April 19-29. For a complete schedule, advance tickets or more information, call 336.724.1502 or visit the official RiverRun website: http://riverrunfilm.com/.