‘Pink Opaque’ Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

A young man named, Travis Wolfe (Elijah Boothe) lives in Los Angeles, as a film student. He roams the streets of Hollywood, struggling to finish his thesis documentary project for film school before he can graduate. In Pink Opaque, Wolfe navigates a budding romance in his final year of college and reconnecting with his estranged uncle, which eventually leads to an unfamiliar look at his family history. The final year of college is always a struggle for young adults because there is so much pressure in moving forward, while still assessing your past and how you got to where you are. If college teaches us anything, it is how to handle pressure and persevere through very unlikely circumstances.

As Wolfe continues to date his girlfriend, Kristen (Ruby Park) against her older brother Bobby’s (Daniel C.) wishes. She is a dreamer just like Wolfe and you can see the genuine love and chemistry they had. Wolfe also had to deal with his uncle Robin (Chaim Dunbar). He is a veteran television producer who is struggling in his career and going down a very bad path. Wolfe needs to come to terms with this, while also processing his father’s suicide. There are so many emotional and mental obstacles that Wolfe needs to overcome during his final year of college and it seemed like everything was coming up to the forefront in order for him to cleanse his mind and soul, before graduating. Almost like a set up for a clean slate in the future.

Courtesy of Hot Buttered Content

The film is beautifully shot and director-writer Derrick Perry really captures the key emotional moments quite well. The film has such great moments to highlight the psychological and emotional state that the characters are in. Seeing Wolfe process everything in his final year of college is something everyone can resonate with, even if audiences do not share the same exact story. Everyone must process their past in order to move forward and placing Wolfe in his final year of college made the struggle very realistic. Everything can come to a head sooner or later if you do not deal with your demons as soon as possible. It shows that we have to face things head on, no matter how difficult it is.

Pink Opaque has a great cast, beautiful camerawork and a really emotional story. It is a film that shows how to process one’s past in order to move forward. It shows how to balance your work, love life and family all in one, while still developing individual character stories. We have all struggled with our past and we can relate to Wolfe, especially in regards to family issues because at one time or another, we have all experienced something like it. This is a very authentic depiction of Los Angeles and it really felt like you were there with these characters on this personal journey.

‘Jumbo’ Official Poster And Trailer Release


By: Amanda Guarragi

Darkstar Pictures just released the official poster and trailer for their film ‘Jumbo’, which premiered at Sundance in 2020. Jeanne, a shy young girl, works the graveyard shift as a cleaner at an amusement park and lives at home with her mother. Jeanne enjoys tinkering around with wires, light bulbs and spare parts, while creating miniature versions of theme park rides. During her late-night shift, Jeanne begins spending intimate time with the new Tilt-A-Whirl ride that she decides to call Jumbo.

‘Jumbo’ Trailer

The concept is really interesting and it will explore relationships in different ways. Writer-director Zoé Wittock stumbled upon an article describing the story of Olympic gold winner in archery, Erika Labrie, who got married to the Eiffel Tower in 2004. There is a condition called, “Objectum sexual” that is what she apparently suffered from.

‘Jumbo’ Production Stills

“Jumbo” explores the unknown. Theme park rides are tied to childhood, so Whittock takes that innocence and decides to challenge it. It highlights female identity and sexuality through a coming of age story. ‘Jumbo’ will be opening in virtual cinemas on February 19th and releasing on VOD/DVD March 16th.

Sundance Film Festival: ‘Pleasure’ Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Pleasure is definitely a midnight film, that I should have watched at midnight, and not at nine in the morning. But hey, these are the choices I had to make. I was instantly intrigued by the premise of Pleasure because I enjoy films that have women, freely exploring their sexuality. Writer-director Ninja Thyberg highlighted how emotional and psychologically damaging, the porn industry can be, for young women starting out in their career. 20-year-old Linnéa (Sofia Kappel) from Sweden, travels all the way to Los Angeles to become the next big porn star. She is taken for a loop, when she finds out that the industry is very competitive and she eventually becomes a product of her environment.

The reason why Pleasure was so interesting to watch was because of the female gaze. If a man was directing this film, it would have looked and felt completely different. What Thyberg does is focus on the act of sex as a job, like any other. All jobs come with their issues and Thyberg showed a day-in-the-life of a porn star. Like all industries, the job is competitive and it does take a mental, physical and emotional toll on you. Linnéa aka Bella wanted some adventure in her life and she wanted to fame, more than anything. At first we see her as timid and sweet. Then as the film goes on, we see this fire in her, this passion and drive for her work. Bella wanted to conquer everything but it came with a price.

Bella talked a big game but she was a rookie. She wanted to do what all the stars were doing in regards to sexual preferences for videos. She ended up in really horrible situations that broke her. There are moments in Pleasure where we can see that Bella’s emotions get the best of her and the tough exterior shell is stripped away. It also looks deep into the value of the industry and the various categories that people search for. Thyberg did not shy away from rough sexual scenes because it was necessary to show how vulgar they are. She also tastefully kept the frame on Bella and explored her emotions, while experiencing these scenes, which feel like torture.

Pleasure has a very different take on the porn industry. Ninja Thyberg takes the intimacy out of sex and instead shows the intimacy with oneself. It show how women look at themselves and treat their own bodies. I think that is the most important takeaway. Women have full control over their bodies, even when they think they don’t. We watch Bella go through some horrible moments but in the end it is how she chooses to control the situation. Her determination overpowers her logic at times and that is what makes her story so interesting to watch.

White Lie Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

White Lie co-written and directed by Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas, dive into a character study of undergrad student Katie Arneson (Kacey Rohl) who has been faking her cancer diagnosis, in order to pool money for her own benefit. It is a dark film that spirals into the depths of the lies and the consequences that come from it. The most interesting takeaway is that young Katie doesn’t stop herself and sikes herself out, as she continues to tangle this web of deceit.

First and foremost, the lie itself is pretty unsettling to watch unfold, as it snowballs into something so uncontrollable and bigger than Katie. Secondly, Rohl’s complex and nuanced performance makes this character study so intricate. It allows the viewer to feel uncomfortable with her decision, without fully knowing if she is telling the truth because she is so convincing. It is also the persona that she puts on in front of different people such as, her significant other, her father, the doctors and her peers. She used everyone around her for her own advantage as she was telling this lie.

Courtesy of Rock Salt Releasing

At first you are definitely turned off by the idea that someone could lie about having cancer in order to fund her own goals. Then you really think about what she did and you question, if she is the only one to think of something likes this. Especially considering the world with live in and the desperation that comes with surviving in this economy. Halfway through the film, you have accepted that she is going through this lie, full force and you are interested in seeing how far she is willing to go. This film is a rollercoaster of emotions because of the many complications Katie faces.

White Lie is an interesting character piece and will have you question if there are people out there who would actually do this. Rohl gave a great performance and she brought forth an entire emotional spectrum when handling the lies. The story structure, camerawork and score all bring this film together to create a character that is so chaotic, which makes this film incredibly thought-provoking until the very end.

Ammonite Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Ammonite is a romantic love story, loosely inspired by the life of British paleontologist Mary Anning (Kate Winslet). Mary owns her own shop, where she sells fossils to rich tourists. Mary first meets her potential love interest, when a tourist and his wife, Charlotte Murchison (Saoirse Ronan) stumble upon a piece of ammonite in her shop. Francis Lee was able to capture the subtleties and beauty of a budding romance but something was missing.

The film is slow and patient. Patient in uncovering the details in the fossils. Patient in processing Mary’s interest in women. Patient in soft touches and stolen glances. All of that was done properly in order to build tension, to anticipate the moment Mary and Charlotte melt into each other, but the film as a whole is dull. Even though Winslet and Ronan gave nuanced performances, it seemed to be their weakest entry in their filmographies.

photograph by Agatha A. Nitecka/RÅN studio
(left) Saiorse Ronan and Kate Winslet

The only time you would feel their love for each other was when they were sexually engaged. Yes, there was plenty of yearning and smiles exchanged with each other, but the chemistry was lacking in that department. It is also very evident, that a man is behind the camera, when filming those intimate, sex scenes and it felt awkward to watch. There was no passion, no love, no lust, all of that was lost in the act of it.

Ammonite is another entry in the sad lesbian romance category, that we seem to have generated over the years. The film had great potential to be something more than it was because of the starpower but it didn’t quite get there. Francis Lee wrote a very simple story that brought these two women together, to experience something beautiful and then it just exits your mind, the second you finish the film.