Charity [2012] (Movie Review)

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Plot Summary

Megan and Jake were happily married with six children. However when Jake is suddenly killed in a military training accident, Megan the the kids are almost immediately thrust into poverty. Megan is forced to scrape by on a tiny income while she worries where her family will live. Will anyone come to help them? Does God still care about them?

Production Quality (.5 point)

There are many problems in this production, beginning with the very poor audio quality, which is evidenced by echoes, loud background noises, and an invasive soundtrack that overtakes the audio and doesn’t fit with the scenes. While camera work is pedestrian at best, the lighting is quite random. For the most part, sets, locations, and props are generic, but some of them don’t adequately represent what they’re supposed to portray. Elsewhere, the editing is inconsistent, which rounds out an underwhelming effort only worthy of a meager score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

As this story jumps around without much coherent thought, some scenes drag on too long despite the fact that they’re totally lifeless. It really doesn’t make much sense for a military family to suddenly fall into total poverty after the father was killed in training…logically, there would be other extenuating circumstances that would lead to the economic downturn. Besides this plot hole, there really isn’t any character development due to very bland and procedural dialogue. Narrative focus and themes are lacking in the first half of the film, but this surprisingly changes in the second half as the movie actually presents some slightly interesting ideas using a unique storyline structure. Nonetheless, this doesn’t make up for the fact that the characters are lacking in development, which doesn’t change later in the screenplay. As such, just a small amount of potential reflects a low rating for this section.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Despite some poor costuming and bored acting, the performances of Charity tend to improve as the film goes on. Although there aren’t any truly dynamic cast members, none of them are terrible either. Emotions begin somewhat flat yet become more realistic with time. Thus, due to this mixed bag, only an average score is warranted here.

Conclusion

This movie is basically a short story idea that needs to be repackaged into a more complex series. The plot concept needs more buildup because it’s interesting but requires more background than we’re given in Charity. Though the final rating is quite low, there was a surprising amount of potential here, so maybe, in future projects, this creative team will improve with increased collaboration.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

Spent [2017] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Eve believes her husband is going to die soon, so she and her son Lonnie are planning on inheriting his million dollar fortune, so they think. They’ve grown tired of his constantly cheap lifestyle that he forces them to go along with, and with the brain tumor advancing, they feel like their freedom is close at hand. However, when something unexpected doesn’t go quite their way, they are forced to come up with a new plan.

Production Quality (1.5 points)

For an indie film, there are several good production elements to note, such as the great video quality and the professional camera work. The sets and locations are also fine and mostly well-utilized. While the soundtrack can be intriguing and creative at times and while the audio quality is mostly fine, there are also instances where the music covers up spoken words and where background sounds can overpower the scene. Also, there is some weirdly soft lighting at times, and some scenes are randomly in black and white for no particular reason. Perhaps the oddest part of this production is the usage of cheesy props from different time periods that creates a lot of confusion as to when this film is supposed to take place. Further, some scenes are strangely drawn out in unnatural ways, which speaks to somewhat of an editing problem. As a whole, this is basically an average indie production that could have been slightly better than it was and seemed to get in its own way.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Even more so, the plot certainly gets in its own way. In a quest to be creative and artistic (the effort is definitely noted), this story comes off in a very strange way with a weird sarcastic tone that’s not explained very well and with a collection of bizarre and slightly inappropriate scenes. It’s very difficult to discern what this film is actually going for without having the confusion about the time period. The attempts at artistic psychological elements fall flat, and a lot of the dialogue is basically cringe-worthy. It’s unfortunately a collection of odd cardboard scenes of nonsensical recitations that is very purposeless and aimless. To top it off, the ending is very strange and leaves a strange flavor in your mouth, which rounds out a section that basically confused itself along with the audience.

Acting Quality (.5 acting)

Indie film acting is fairly difficult to pull off, and while there was a slight amount of potential with this cast, a lot of it is very awkward and forced. The eccentric portions would work better if that’s what these characters were intended to be, but again, it’s very unclear what the film is even going for. This fact is also reflected in the weirdly inconsistent costuming efforts. As a whole, line and emotional delivery are stilted, which doesn’t leave much positive to state about this indie effort.

Conclusion

It’s great to want to try to create an original indie film, but Spent either takes things a step too far or a step too short. It’s a mystery what sort of Christian message is meant to be conveyed by this ‘dark comedy,’ and it’s unfortunately a waste of time due to its jumbled and confusing elements. The best an indie film maker with a small budget can do is to present a masterful plot, but this was unfortunately not done in this film.

Final Rating: 2 out of 10 points