‘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’ Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

Sundance Film Festival 2020 selection Jumbo, written and directed by Zoé Wittock, is an interesting exploration of sexuality and coming of age. We meet young Jeanne (Noémie Merlant), who works at an amusement park and is completely taken by these machines. These inanimate objects, fascinate her to the point, that she cannot stop thinking about them, especially one theme park ride, she calls ‘Jumbo’. Wittock does a great job explaining identity and explores queerness in a unique way. We all can say that, “love is love”, until someone questions who we love. The film shows the struggles of coming to terms with one’s sexual identity and the gender norms that are forced upon others.

Jeanne is incredibly shy, naive and reserved. She has had to watch her mother bring home men, who do not treat her well. Jeanne has had a skewed knowledge of relationships because of her mother. When Jeanne goes to work at the amusement park, she experiences a sense of liberation because no one can see her in the dark. She is no longer quiet, with the theme park attraction, she is free to experience this connection how she pleases. It is a great concept and the fantastical elements combined with a really grounded journey of sexual identity, worked extremely well for this piece. It was so interesting to watch, just to see the emotional connection Jeanne felt towards ‘Jumbo’.

The film does suffer from pacing issues and some empty dialogue that doesn’t add much to Jeanne’s development. There are two moments that stood out to me, ones that I will never forget. The first is the scene where she has a very intimate moment with ‘Jumbo’. The oil from the theme park attraction covered her naked body, slowly, and we see that Jeanne is reaching her climax. I thought the set up for this scene worked well because of the contrast of black and white. Society often looks at sexuality in two ways, either gay or straight, but there are others in between, that deserve the same level of attention. Society also looks at gender the exact same way, boy or girl, black or white.

The second moment, which I found a bit jarring was Jeanne having sex with a man who has been pursuing her. The choice to not have the camera on the characters was interesting. It is a sexual moment that Wittock did not want to show, instead she just wanted us to listen. The man is the only one making any noise, while Jeanne is silent. She is being taken from behind and it is not an intimate, emotional connection. Wittock then shows her face, after he finishes, and her eyes are filled with tears. That is not what she thought sex would feel like. How could something so intimate be so emotionless?

Jumbo is a an interesting watch because of Noémie Merlant, she completely took over the role and held the film together. She had such a beautiful understanding of Jeanne and how to portray her. Wittock took a chance on presenting societal issues in a very abstract way and it was impressive! You cannot take this film at surface value because it will lose the meaning of Jeanne’s journey. There is so much depth to this film and Wittock hits certain beats with ease. It is emotional, unique and a fresh perspective on sexual identity.

‘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.

Cayenne Short Film Review


By: Amanda Guarragi

As a woman, there is always reason to be on high alert. Women have been conditioned to be aware of their surroundings and protect themselves from predators. Women are the ones who carry mace in their back pocket and always have to be five steps ahead in order to be safe. What Simon Gionet does in Cayenne is interesting because he creates tension in the most basic form. The atmosphere at a secluded gas station, late at night, set the tone for the female clerk quite well. The second a man approaches her, you get an odd feeling in the pit of your stomach.

It is a very simple story but the way it was structured and presented made Cayenne intriguing. The female clerk goes out to help fix this man’s car. As she helps him, the man makes small talk with her and she is very short with him. There are subtle glances and reactions from the man, that make you question his intentions. Thus making the viewer feel like something bad is about to happen. Gionet did a very good job in creating tension in this case and making the viewer feel uncomfortable. All I wanted was to get the female clerk back to safety because this guy felt creepy.

What impressed me the most was the tracking shot near the end of the piece. Gionet follows the female clerk with his camera from behind, as she walks back to the store. The back of her head is placed in the lower half of the frame, almost like the person walking behind her was slightly taller. The assumption was made that the man was following her back to the store and in that moment your anxiety spikes. Gionet places you in the shoes of the female clerk so well and the tension is felt. The ending of the film is not what you expect at all, so it definitely keeps you invested.

Cayenne is a very well-written and directed short film that heightens your awareness of how women live in constant paranoia. Gionet shows the most simple interaction, that could happen on a regular day and the energy shifts because it’s through the eyes of a woman. It is the female clerk’s experience and yet, it symbolizes what all women think about. How they have to prepare themselves to outwit a man and get out of a possible situation. Women go through this more than we care to admit, it’s the everyday anxiety when a man looks at you in a different way.