"Sometimes you have to pick the gun up to put the gun down" - Malcolm X
This is the problem with having a rating scale.
Be honest. Sometimes, you simply look at a film's rating and before you've even read the review you've already decided for yourself whether or not you're going to read even further or even consider the film. In other words, you see "2.5 stars" and think to yourself "Okay, well there's a film I can just skip."
I hate that. While I still regard ratings as a necessary evil of film criticism, I hate the fact that we so easily dismiss a film just because it's not what we might consider perfect or market friendly.
Obscurity, a 41-minute student short written and directed by George Grant and shot on location in England, is a perfect example. While not a perfect film, Obscurity is the kind of film I love to watch because it's made by friends and friends of friends with a passion for their film, their message, and for learning the craft of filmmaking.
A 2 1/2 - Star, C+ film? Yeah, it's accurate. In fact, it may even be a little generous. If you only allow yourself a steady diet of ridiculously lame, mass consumption films like the ones you see at the multiplexes then this film may drive you completely mad.
That's a pity.
Obscurity is a low-budget indie that looks and feels like a low-budget indie, but it's a blast to watch because you can feel the youths involved with the film working their way through every aspect of filmmaking. You can feel the wheels turning and you can see the ideas they want to bring forth coming to life as the film's 41-minute running time keeps on rolling.
Truthfully, most filmmakers worth anything will tell you they love watching this kind of film because this is the breeding ground for up-and-coming filmmakers.
Then, to actually have the balls to submit the film for review?
The film centers around Josh, played by Grant, a bit of a wimpish teen dominated by his elder brother and generally an outcast even in his own world. When he finally starts to find his own strength, however, it's not long before he begins to realize that such strength may very well come at its own price.
Obscurity struggles with many of the technical challenges found in most low-budget indies including an occasionally inconsistent sound mix, lighting issues, and the burden of not having the ability to edit performance's to perfection.
You do realize that most Hollywood films are massively edited, right? It's not like even Meryl Streep, practically the queen of Hollywood, actually gets it right every time.
While Obscurity has its challenges, it also has its strengths including an enthusiastic and committed ensemble cast and Grant's insightful and intelligent script. Additionally, Matt Filer's lensing is creative and the film's music is well integrated and complements the story nicely.
Obscurity is available for your own viewing on its website linked to in the credits, where the team behind the production has also include a wealth of information and extra downloads that should also prove beneficial to other student filmmakers.
Seriously. Ignore my rating. Check out the film.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic