Toronto International Film Festival 2021 Capsule Review: Nuisance Bear

Written by Alexander Reams

50/100

The bear population is a topic of controversy. Animal rights activists say they should be able to roam wherever they want. Everyone else generally agrees that they are cute, but dangerous. There are countless examples of bears being dangerous to society. Going into this I assumed it would be a message piece that wanted me to feel bad for bears. What followed instead was a meditative work on bears roaming which proved to be much more interesting, but did lose me by the end. What works here is the cinematography, putting the viewer in the landscape of this film. I felt every step the bear took, every breath that was exhaled, a huge credit to the sound mixer. What does not work is the way the filmmakers went about conveying this story. I felt constantly disconnected from the subject of the film. There seemed to be no heart behind it, which detracted from the piece throughout. I love to emotionally connect with films but Nuisance Bear was unable to pull me in in any meaningful way. The beauty of the film is it’s combination of the aural and the visual, take one away, and the other should replace what is taken away. That doesn’t happen here. Despite the absence of an emotional connection there is at least gorgeous cinematography to behold throughout the film which puts many of the best DPs to shame.

Nuisance Bear Trailer

Nuisance Bear was screened as part of Toronto International Film Festival 2021.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

Fantasia Film Festival 2021 Capsule Review: Hold Me Tight

Written by Alexander Reams

62/100

Finding a mate is a tried and true trope in any medium of media. What sets the iconic stories apart is the ability to connect with its audience while also having a unique way to convey their story. Mélanie Robert-Tourneur’s Hold Me Tight has that rare honor of being able to uniquely tell its story. No dialogue, only using visual storytelling, a technique that is not used enough in the filmmaking medium. While also using a different method of animation, all the frames look like they were created using oil paints. This not only kept me thoroughly interested, but emotionally involved to a degree. However due to a lack of understanding in the environment we are immediately placed in there is always a sense of confusion and distortion to the short runtime. If the film were expanded into a feature and there was more time to get to know the characters it may be able to overcome this shortcoming. Despite this misunderstanding, in this short runtime I did find myself caring for the characters and marveling at the animation on display.

Hold Me Tight Trailer

Hold Me Tight was screened at Fantasia 2021 Film Festival and is currently awaiting distribution.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

Tribeca 2021 Film Festival Interview: Director Saul Abraham Talks Short “Enjoy”

Interview by Anna Harrison

When did you first get the idea for this film? How long did the process from development to distribution take?

It is based on writer Callum Cameron’s personal experiences as a home tutor. He sent it to me a couple of years ago and I knew I wanted to be involved in the project straight away and luckily he agreed to develop it with me. I was struck by how delicately he handled feelings of misery, guilt, shame and worry whilst still making something warm, hopeful and funny. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at times and felt connected to Michael, as well as seeing a younger version of myself in Archie.

Were there any major script changes from conception to end?

As always, the script took many twists and turns in the development process but the original through line that Callum created was so strong that the root of it always remained consistent.

How collaborative was the process, i.e., did you get much say in the script, or was it mostly finalized by the time you were brought on board?

The development process was really collaborative but so was the rest of the process. Callum was fully in the trenches with me every step of the way on this. The story is very personal to him so it made sense for him to be part of everything and I loved that collaboration.

In that same vein, I really loved the color palette and production design; how much input did you have in that?

Glad you picked up on that! Yes, Tasha Back (director of photography), Eve Shillingford (production designer), and I put a lot of thought into palette and tone in each scene. We played with cold, blue tones at the lido and in Archie’s house to show the loneliness and isolation in those two places. Archie’s house in particular had to feel like a nice family house that had been abandoned and left cold by the break up of a family. The lido was to show Michael’s general mood—those scenes feeling almost dreamlike. Then at Michael and Katie’s flat we darkened everything down, making it feel oppressive and claustrophobic showing how boxed in Michael felt by not being able to communicate with Katie.

What was the editing process like? Did anything get left on the cutting room floor?

We were pretty specific with the script and what we shot so actually very little was cut out. But I did cut it myself so maybe I was too precious? Who knows!?

In one of the scenes, Michael and Archie reenact a scene from The Avengers (which was great) where Loki monologues that “it’s the unspoken truth of humanity that you crave subjugation” and we will only be happy when we have no choices. What made you decide on that scene in particular? How does it resonate in a film about depression

That was all Callum and his writing. I love that moment. I think he would agree to leave it all up to interpretation!

Tom Sweet, who played Archie, gave a great performance. How do you change your directing approach when working with younger actors, if you change it at all?

Tom Sweet blew us all away—perfectly balancing the spoilt brat element of the character whilst also getting us to feel for him. Such an intelligent actor for someone so young; it was a joy to work with him. I have lots of techniques for working with child actors and making them feel more comfortable, but to be completely honest they weren’t needed with Tom as he took it all in his stride. What impressed me so much was how well he listened to the other actors. Often with child actors they have learnt their lines and rehearsed a set way of delivering them and it’s hard to break them out of that. But Tom reacted to subtle changes made by Himesh [Patel] and Sara [Stewart] from take to take and was always present in the scene. He also took on direction fantastically.

One thing I really liked about the film was the ending—there wasn’t some big moment where Michael was “cured,” which can often happen in movies about mental illness. Could you elaborate a bit on the ending and its ambiguity?

Callum and I always wanted the film to have an ambiguous ending mainly because that’s our experience of our own mental health. It’s complex and never really has an ‘I am cured’ moment. Sometimes you have days, weeks, months or even years where you feel like you have turned a corner but then suddenly it changes. I feel like that is something we should talk about more with regards to mental health and that is looking at ways we need to monitor and look after ourselves in the ups and downs rather than looking for a complete solution, which to be honest doesn’t exist. Or maybe I haven’t found it yet? Having said that, although the ending is ambiguous I hope it’s still hopeful.

Do you have a favorite film you’ve watched at Tribeca so far? (Or just this year in general!)

I haven’t seen any yet but I just got my sent all the films and I can’t wait to watch. Check back with me in a week!

Enjoy played at the Tribeca 2021 Film Festival.

You can read Anna’s review of Enjoy here and see more of her work on LetterboxdTwitterInstagram, and her website.

Tribeca 2021 Film Festival Capsule Review: The Kicksled Choir

Written by Alexander Reams

23/100

Rarely a film will frustrate and bore me to the point of verbally begging the film to end, to end this misery of sitting through such a pedantic and heavy handed film. Such is the case with director Torfinn Iversen’s film The Kicksled Choir or Sparkekoret. His direction is flat out boring. Even in moments where there should be tension, emotion, or even distress, everything falls flat, I felt nothing during the film. With this juvenile direction, the actors portraying the father and son (Gabriel), Stig Henrik Hoff and Benoni Brox Krane respectively couldn’t do anything to rectify the film. These actors were clearly given poor direction and had an abysmal script to work with. The only shining light in this film is its use of opera music throughout, and unfortunately this is not near enough to make up for the heavy handed and half baked script, the poor acting, and the absolute lack of talented direction.

The Kicksled Choir Trailer

The Kicksled Choir played at the Tribeca 2021 Film Festival. Distribution TBA.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

Tribeca 2021 Film Festival Capsule Review: Larry and Me

Written by Alexander Reams

92/100

Larry King has and always will be a radio and television legend and a hero of mine. His way of connecting with an audience with his demeanor and tone has always kept me coming back to watching his old interviews, especially the ones with his friend Herb Cohen. I have heard King talk about Herb Cohen countless times and it always is very heartwarming to watch. In director Lisa Melmed’s new documentary Larry and Me. Seeing Herb talk about his lifelong friendship with the iconic TV reporter was a joy, and made for one of the best documentaries of the year so far. Melmed makes this feel like King’s presence is still with us even after the credits roll. My only issue with this film is that this was that it is not a feature length documentary film. I would love to see a full length film on their friendship. I felt the genuine love and care these two had for each other and I think that condensing a 75 year friendship into such a short amount time is practically a crime. That being said I am very happy that this friendship is still being explored despite Larry King’s passing.

Larry and Me Trailer

Larry and Me played at the Tribeca 2021 Film Festival. Distribution TBA.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: Instagram, Letterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.