TCFF Day 4: Review of Minnesota Feature ‘Finding Home’

We’re exactly in the halfway mark of our 9-day film fest! Today TCFF is featuring a Minnesota feature that’s filmed in just 10 days in Minnesota and Wisconsin, with a location crew of 13 (including the Director and Producer – all from Minnesota) and 1 camera (RedCam) and a budget of under $50K. During the Educational Panel: MN Filmmakers last Saturday, director Chars Bonin shared some insights into his experience shooting in an absolute remote location, and how they were blessed with good weather and no rain as it would’ve wrecked havoc on their schedule and budget.

I don’t know how to categorize Finding Home, it’s the kind of film that starts out as one thing and in the end it sort of shifts to become something else entirely. Wesley (Brian John Evans) & Katie (Lindsay Marcy) seems like a happy couple who’s going on a camping trip on a remote island in the Boundary Waters area in Northern Minnesota. Right away you get the sense that Katie isn’t as excited about the trip as Wesley is, and as time goes on, it’s obvious that something is bothering her.

Once they get to the camp site, it doesn’t take long before they start bickering and the more Wesley prods his girlfriend and find out what’s on her mind, the more Katie pushes him away. It’s an intriguing character study of two people who are on two different state of mind, seems that even though they’re physically together, they’re not moving in the same directions. Wesley is the picture of a perfect boyfriend, not only is he gorgeous but he’s unbelievably patient with the testy Katie and her mood swings. The tormented Katie can’t seem to get out of whatever it is she’s going through, and I must admit I became irritated with her and wants her to just snap out of it already.

This simmering conflict is set against the backdrop of an absolutely gorgeous Autumn scenery. It’s as if the peaceful setting of the tranquil lake and serene woods is contrasted with the tumult that Wesley and Katie is going through. For 90% of the 90-minute film, we are only seeing these two people interacting with each other on screen and nothing else except nature that surrounds them. So it’s key that we actually care for the characters and want to know just exactly what’s going on between them. Fortunately the two lead actors managed to do just that. I found out later that Evans and Marcy have not acted before in a feature film, that’s quite impressive given that both of them have to carry the movie only with their performances to rely on.

As I’ve alluded to before, the film shifts its tone in about the last third of the film and I feel that it’s a bit too abrupt for my liking. I saw this film before watching/reading anything about the film and I was quite taken aback by it. I think the less you know about it the better so I’m not going to delve into the plot any further other than it deals with quite a dark and controversial topic that would understandably make or break even the closest of relationships.

I think Bonin did a decent job in his first feature film, and he’s certainly got talent in getting good performances out of actors, though I have to admit it drags quite a bit in parts. Overall it just wasn’t gripping enough to keep my interest so I think the editing could’ve been a whole lot tighter than it is. I feel that there are far too many indulgent scenes, if you will, andthe overly s-l-o-w pace threatens to grind the film to a halt.

Still I think it’s a worthwhile effort and the cinematography is beautiful! I’m certainly glad TCFF hosts its world premiere here in town. Hopefully this will inspire other filmmakers to shoot their films here in my neck of the woods!

2.5 out of 5 reels

Check out fellow TCFF blogger Mitch’s review of Finding Home

Here’s the behind-the-scenes video at the end of the review with filmmaker Chars Bonin who wrote and directed the film:

Thoughts on this movie? Do share your thoughts in the comments.

Everybody’s Chattin’: October Edition

Welcome to October, folks!
Wow, where did September go?? It’s certainly been a hectic start to the Fall season—or Autumn as some prefer to call it—for me. After a crazy busy week covering TCFF, this weekend I have a friend staying with us for the weekend from my home country Indonesia. I was out pretty much all weekend hanging out with her and our mutual friends, spending our time mostly outdoors marveling at the beautiful Fall colors! My friend took this gorgeous pic of a Maple tree, isn’t that lovely? So needless to say, we didn’t really see any movie this weekend, nor did I have much time to blog. From 8 movies down to a big fat zero this weekend is quite a contrast, I know 😀

But no fret, I figure it’s as good a time as any to highlight some awesome posts that my friends wrote this past week. I promise I’ll make this Everybody’s Chattin’ post a monthly feature from now on, with perhaps a bonus one if I feel like there are more posts to highlight in a given month.

  • My good friend Terrence a.k.a The Scarlet Sp1der just celebrated his 29th birthday on Sunday. Wish him a happy belated b’day if you haven’t already and check out what films he’s excited for this month.
  • Kid from The Kid in the Front Row mused about the elusiveness of cinematic greatness on Castor’s blog. That post was featured on IMDb last week, I suggest you check it out if you haven’t already.
  • Speaking of cinematic greatness, sometimes some films that win an Oscar can be so polarizing. And one of those films in recent memory is Crash. Take a look at this well-written review by Sam @ BananaOilMovies and share your thoughts on the movie.
  • Nostra @ My Film Views has this awesome ongoing series called ‘The Many Faces Of …’ where he highlights different actors for their versatility. This past week’s choice happens to be one of my personal favorite, Dame Helen Mirren!
  • I love lists, and Tyler from Southern Vision just did a nifty one called Top Ten Favourite Film Titles. What are some unique film titles you can think of?
  • Bonus post: My best mate Scott from Front Room Cinema is back from his island vacation! Welcome him back by checking out his Weekend Roundup and a list of movies filmed in the Canary Islands.

What to expect on this blog for this week: The monthly Five for the Fifth, Review of Machine Gun Preacher (long overdue, I know) and a Top Ten List inspired by one of the panels I attended at TCFF.

Now before you go off to check out these great posts, first let me know what movie(s) did you get to see this weekend?

Autumn Scene Spotlight: When Harry Met Sally

I love, love, love the Fall season!

Though I was born and spent the first half of my life in a tropical country, I’ve always preferred a cooler climate. I truly can’t imagine not having the four seasons… I don’t even mind snow, as long as it’s not the debilitating kind that wreck havoc on traffic and stuff. But let’s not think about that yet… for right now I’m basking in perhaps the most perfect Autumn ever! For the next 10 days, we’ll have a stretch of rain-free sunny days with temps in the mid 70s. WOW, it just doesn’t get any better than that!!

Well, this weekend I’ll be meeting up with some friends at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum to check out the gorgeous Fall colors. It got me thinking about Autumn scenes in movies and the first thing that come to mind is this one from When Harry Met Sally.

Before Friends with Benefits, No Strings Attached and a slew of others with ‘can men/women be friends without sex’ theme, we’ve got this classic rom-com. It’s one of those movies I’d watch when it comes on TV, and in fact, when I was staying at the Westin San Francis across from Union Square, this movie was playing right on the square so I could practically watch it from my window. Too bad I couldn’t really hear the dialog as this movie has lots of memorable ones.

Nora Ephron wrote the screenplay for Rob Reiner and I thought is pretty brilliant. There are lots of memorable scenes too, I mean who could forget the ‘fake orgasm’ scene at the diner? Billy Crystal & Meg Ryan have this effortless chemistry between them that make their relationship so believable. This conversation in this scene always makes me laugh, but sometimes I’m just lost in the enchanting beauty of the Autumn setting with those gorgeous colors of the leaves surrounding them.

Have you seen this movie? Feel free to share your own favorite Autumn movie scene(s).