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The Independent Critic

Directed by
Benjamin Ochieng, Marcus Stokes
Written by
Benjamin Ochieng
Starring
Benjamin Ochieng, Jessica Diz, Chris Kamau, Ida Onyango, Celeste Sullivan
Running Time
17:37
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 "Mind Tricks" Review 
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Joe Manning (Benjamin Ochieng) fights with his wife, Molly (Jessica Diz), and storms out of the house. Roaming the streets for hours, Joe finds himself on the wrong side of town and witnesses a murder. Gangsters mistake him for having killed one of their own, and suddenly Joe's nightmare has just begun.

This nearly 18-minute co-directed and written by vet actor Benjamin Ochieng is a promising low-budget psychological drama from Bendrix Films, a solid production that benefits greatly from a nice chemistry between Ochieng and Diz that helps to heighten the drama as it unfolds.

While Mind Tricks is hindered, greatly at times, by the almost inevitable tech challenges that come with producing such an adventurous project, Ochieng wisely focuses the film on the character of Joe and Ochieng's performance quite often transcends the film's technical challenges. It also helps that the entire cast of Mind Tricks feels comfortable in this project, perhaps owing at least partly to their history of working together.

In addition to Ochieng's quality performance, Jessica Diz is solid as Molly and Chris Kamau, Ida Onyango and Celeste Sullivan all have moments to shine in the film.

Mind Tricks primarily suffers due to a few issues with the sound mix along with action sequences that lack the urgency to really sell the menace that is implied by Ochieng's gritty script. The film works best when the camera is either focused on Ochieng or the characters are working together 1:1, scenarios that focus less on tech prowess and allow Ochieng's story to be front and center.

One gets the feeling that there's more to come from Bendrix films, an outfit that seems to not only stress quality, real life stories but a devotion to improving the lives of others.
    The 50/50 x 2020 Pledge

    The Independent Critic is proud to support Indy-based Heartland Film by committing to the 50/50 x 2020 Pledge - By the end of the year 2020, The Independent Critic will achieve gender parity in its reviews of both shorts and feature films. Furthermore, The Independent Critic also pledges support for the Ruderman Family Foundation's call for authentic representation of people with disabilities in film and actively commits to leverage its journalistic influence to effect genuine change in the film industry by calling for and actively promoting authentic and inclusive casting and hiring of people with disabilities.

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