Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2009 7:36 pm 
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The young British director asked me to review this because I am one of the top volume comments writers on Internet Movie Database. It's only 13 minutes long so I watched it online and I liked it so I wrote this.

A clever teaser

This 13-minute film is a surreal little piece about a cub reporter called Niall (Thomas Nelstrop) brought by a sophisticated young woman associate, the suave, pretty Tamara (Sally Bretton, 'Donna' in 'The Office') to pick up photos of a youth called Michael just killed in a car crash. Writer Ben Clover based this on his own experiences as a fledgling journalist doing "death-knocks" for the South London Press. I had the same sort of job myself and can attest that if you don't have balls and a glib way with you you'll get the door slammed in your face. Niall's job is on the line, and Tamara is standing by in the car to make sure he succeeds this time, or he'll be sacked.

In the car on the way to see the bereaved mother Mrs Wright (April Nicholson), Tamara rehearses various introductory speeches and explains how psychology can be used to get your foot in the door and obtain information about a dead family member, and most importantly, those photographs. Nial, while presentable enough (he's a bland, attractive young everyman with a strong nose and lots of curly hair), is evidently less self-assured, and perhaps just about to put his foot in his mouth--and cause offense before he's let in, or after.

Not a bit of it. None of that matters. When he gets to the door and Mrs Wright appears, a strange mistaken identity has happened. Or has it? We are left to imagine what's going on with Mrs Wright and why Niall reacts with such strange passivity.

Identities collapse and reassemble somewhat in the manner of Harold Pinter. There's a teasing dominance-submission setup between Niall and Tamara, then Niall and Mrs Wright, that's Pinter-like and sly. There's not so much of Pinter's menace. But a sudden onrush of unreality on a placid suburban street is always disquieting, if not downright terrifying. What happens isn't really better than getting the door slammed in your face: it's worse. There's a sickliness in Niall's surrender that reminds me of Pinter's 'The Servant.'

The film may be trying to communicate a little more information than quite gets across; Niall's attendance of the burial of his mum in the opening shots is a hint that gets somewhat lost. However, what 'A Fitting Tribute' does convey is haunting enough, The film's look is is elegant and clear. Young director Danial Cormack and writer Ben Clover make a good team. The accomplishment here well explains qualification for a UK Film Council Completion Fund Award and showcasing by the BBC Film Network. The BBC website also is to be congratulated for the accessibility and detail of its presentation of the film and all you need to know about it here. The clip of it there is not very high resolution, but it's all there. Gareth Davies did a smooth job on the editing; blackouts work here, enhancing the sense of mystery and transformation. Daniel Cormack and Sam Osborne did the photography. A promising piece of work that uses the short format to magnify hints and portents.

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┬ęChris Knipp. Blog: http://chrisknipp.blogspot.com/.


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