Review: The Problem Solver - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Review: The Problem Solver

10/31/2008

This short film was made as part of the Best in Summer Shorts, a film festival and video contest in Milton, Del. It was directed by nearby resident Gustave Rehnstrom who is my co-worker at WBOC.

Rehnstrom told me that the look he was mimicking here was that of Sin City (2005). The video, though shot in color, was digitally processed into black-and-white, save for certain objects, mainly those in the background, that he wanted to accent.

It may just be me, but I feel that most movies look better in black-and-white. Recently, several filmmakers have done B&W films to great critical success, including the Coen Brothers with The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), George Clooney with Good Night, And Good Luck (2005), and even Steven Spielberg with Schindler's List (1993).

This short film doesn't quite rise to the level of those movies, but the look of it is very eye-popping. There is no stark contrast in the brights and darks. Everything seems well-lit and nicely balanced with natural shades, broken by super-whites, as in T-shirts, or, ultra-blacks, as in hair color.

The story focuses on Flip, probably the best-dressed bartender in Delaware. He spends the majority of the day dispensing advice. He's black but he speaks like a wise, Chinese Zen master mixed with a smooth, 1930s-type gangster.

One day, in the bar, a man named Jerry is caught two-timing his fiance, Nicki, with a drunk named Alicia. Flip has to deal with the aftermath, first having to talk down Alicia who becomes even more drunk and who can't understand why her relationship doesn't work and second having to talk up Jerry who becomes remorseful but who can't understand why he cheats.

The insightful yet fortune cookie-like advice Flip gives results in his bar patrons being more reflective, looking inward not outward for the source of their problems, and appreciating what they already have.

Yet, this is not the purpose of the movie. Flip doesn't just solve people's relationship problems like any good bartender. No. Flip does more. Without spoiling the ending, Flip's other job is a bit of a surprise and possibly a contradiction, and no, he's not Batman.

The other role of Flip is a surprise and meant to be only that, a surprise, a twist that makes this short movie maybe B-level film noir, but feels like only the beginning of a story and not a complete one. It's not as fluid or over-the-top as Sin City. It's well-edited but drags during the scene between Flip and Jerry, and has some good cinematic shots like the footsteps into a darkened room.

To see the entire short film, go to: www.myspace.com/thelanternmovie

Three Stars out of Five
Unrated but parental guidance recommended
Running Time: 10 mins.


 

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