Saturday, March 5, 2016

A fascinating surprise

OZLAND (2015)

Produced By: Shendopen Productions and others
Director: Michael Williams
Starring: Zack Ratkovich, Glenn Payne, Casey Heflin, and Dunlap Peeples IV
Pros: Intriguing story, excellent soundtrack, good direction, good acting
Cons: Slow, black-and-white characters
Rating: **** of 5 (4 of 5)

Halfway through this movie, as is the case with most Indie films, I was going to stop watching, because it appeared to be going nowhere, and didn't have a story. I am glad I chugged on, and was proven wrong. Ozland genuinely surprised me with how good it was, and how much thought was put into it. It wasn't just about presenting a story with an ending, but about presenting an emotion, one of bonding, survival, and undying hope. In the last one, this movie left the current crop on the doormat.

But a good story wasn't just the only positive thing about it. The acting by basically two-and-a-half actors and one voice-over was excellent: words and gestures were used to equal measure, as were tone and delivery. Again, a lot of thought clearly went into this, and the results showed through. Topping all that was the great soundtrack of the movie, which could've been placed better but was still good. Perhaps that was the only shortcoming of the director, who otherwise did a great job.

The only downsides were that the movie was slow (which is often the case with Indie films, and why they serve only a niche audience) and the characters were pretty monochromatic. Leif was almost a child in a man's body, excitable, hopeful, but very naive; while Emri was the ever-lonely and angry 'father' figure. The contrast between the two of course adds to the beauty of the film, but a little more work on giving them some shades of gray would've made it better. Nonetheless, this was a surprisingly good movie that simultaneously cheered me up and made me sad. Four stars well deserved. (OTFS)

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