27 September 2007 | omarramonmuniz
This independent get the criterion treatment?
I've become a fan of the criterion collection over the past few years or so. I consider the institution a staple in the film industry, both in recognizing and preserving pivotal pieces throughout the years. In fact, seeing the criterion collection symbol on a DVD cover sparks my interest in films that I probably wouldn't think twice about watching otherwise. An example of this is Border Radio. I anxiously awaited a screening of this film because of its importance to indie film explosion, and I am a big supporter of indie flicks. But as I watched it, I realized that this is a very good student film. But it's too amateur and unseasoned to earn any comparison to better indie flicks and better Hollywood flicks. The film is sloppy in its structure. After establishing the characters, the film takes the shape of a documentary where these characters are interviewed, one-on-one. The idea itself isn't a bad one, but the filmmakers don't give a reason for doing so. Why are these characters are being interviewed? How does it contribute to the story? The characters themselves have absolutely no redeeming qualities and the filmmakers don't give us a way to relate to any of them. The acting is horrific, and better directors in better movies have proved that non-actors can produce good and sometimes great performances. The actors in this movie all look like film students although we know some aren't. The best performance was produced by the Mexican who sang and drank a corona for 1 short scene. The story itself is dull and cliché. If another film student makes a movie that has to do with somebody owing a club owner money, I'm going to scream. More importantly, the film has no premise! Most films have a premise without trying. This one has none, no moral of the story, or no point to the story. These things are learned in film 101. In fact, these things should come natural in any form of storytelling. The only thing that makes this film worth anybody's time is its photography and some of the music. There are some great landscape shots and a beautiful scene where the daughter is circled on a music merry-go-round. Ultimately, this film is a perfect example on how some indie flicks get much props simply because their indie flicks. How this gets the criterion treatment, I have no idea. This is simply a bad movie made my amateur filmmakers still searching for a voice. It took them 4 years to make this movie and, despite how low-budget a film is, it should never take 4 years to make an 83 minute movie with non-actors and a bad script. I do appreciate a movie with good intentions and I would assume that these USC film students had good intentions to make a non-Hollywood film about real people; but those intentions fall massively short. The ridiculously high acclaim that some indie flicks get because they're shot with shoe-string budgets with plot less stories has to stop (in the same way the acclaim some Hollywood flicks get because they have big stories and a predictable storyline has to stop).