Cowboy & Indiana (Movie Review)

Cowboy and Indiana" movie set to premiere June 8 in West Monroe

Plot Summary

Tyler Hughes used to be a big-time rodeo cowboy, but he got down on his luck through a series of bad choices. Now, he’s in and out of court, which where he gets sentenced to be a special mentor for “troubled kids.” Accompanied by his former girlfriend-turned-social-worker, what could go wrong as Tyler plays white savior for a kid from the “other neighborhood”? Also, several other characters do some stuff with bull riding in this incredibly long film.

Production Quality (2 points)

Production is easily Cowboy & Indiana‘s strongest suit. Camera work, video quality, and audio quality are all professional except for some slightly inconsistent filming techniques. Lighting, sets, locations, and props are all acceptable, however. The soundtrack is somewhat interesting, and the only issues with this section pertain to editing. This aspect is a bit uneven at times, but it’s not enough to pull this area below the average mark.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Besides being a white savior plot, the premise of Cowboy & Indiana is so trumped up that it doesn’t even seem legally sound or realistic. This causes some subtly racist undertones and a lot of patriarchal message-pushing that treats women like they’re incapable of making decisions without men around. In addition, the characters are very thin due to poorly developed dialogue and conversations, wasted scenes and sequences, excessive sports montages, and silly coincidences that make the story go where it wants to go. This narrative steering creates very steep character arcs that aren’t justified and strip the movie of any central purpose or themes. Despite some good flashbacks and acceptable dialogue in the screenplay’s second half that keeps this section from being zero, it’s just too little, too late. By the time the conclusion rolls around, it seems like the writers tried to make up for lost time by forcing things forward at a rapid pace, which produces a rushed epilogue with tons of expository dialogue that patches everything up at a breakneck speed. Needless to say, the small amount of positive in this portion just isn’t enough.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

At least the acting of Cowboy & Indiana is basically average. There’s nothing too bad or too good about it. Emotional and line delivery are just right down the middle with some being less than acceptable and the rest being fine. Overall, however, this rounds out an underwhelming effort.

Conclusion

It’s clear that this film was based on a lot of random ideas, some of which were better than others. Nonetheless, there are just too many eyebrow-raising elements here, such as the shaky legal basis. The veiled racism and patriarchy are also obvious concerns to contend with. Even without these problems, the sheer amount of content is simply overwhelming for anyone. Thus, during the creative process, it’s better to slow things down and invite God into the situation to see if you’re even meant to move forward with your project.

Final Rating: 4 out of 10 points

Desires of the Heart [2009] (Movie Review)

Image result for desires of the heart christian movie

Plot Summary

Ethan and Jack always had a strained relationship as brothers, but events surrounding the death of their father lead to an even larger wedge being driven between them. Now, after time has passed, things have greatly changed in each of their lives, and there are other family members to forgive. The family business is thriving, but rifts still abound. Will each person make the decisions they need to make in order to heal wounds from the past?

Production Quality (2 points)

Although this production’s background audio quality tends to be poor at times, this is really the only major error to note, and it does improve as the film progresses. Elsewhere, camera work and video quality are good, and the sets, locations, and props are well-utilized. Though the soundtrack is a bit generic and the editing mostly average, the second half of the production is better than the first and overall ends on a good note. Thus, this is enough to warrant an above-average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Desires of the Heart is a rare instance in which a modern-day adaptation of a biblical story actually works because the writers successfully preserved the narrative’s original concepts without being over-representative or too obvious with their rendering. As such, the plot makes good use of flashbacks and creatively weaves a non-linear storyline that explores the complexities of family inner workings. The characters are pretty good even if they could be a bit better with more substantial, motive-revealing dialogue. Nonetheless, they do have very authentic backstories, and the story as a whole isn’t afraid to create unfortunately realistic consequences that can come as a result of family disputes, bitterness, and unforgiveness. It also contains a great message that is relevant for many audiences, but the slightly abrupt ending seems to keep it from being all that it could be. Nevertheless, this section does enough to earn an average rating.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

For the most part, the acting in Desires of the Heart is average since some if it is fine while the rest of it is a bit robotic and overly practiced. However, many of the cast members seem honest and committed to their roles. Additionally, much of the line delivery and emotions are mostly believable. Thus, this section rounds out an overall standard effort.

Conclusion

Desires of the Heart is a good example of how focusing on a shorter story is sometimes better than overextending resources with a longer project that could be lower quality. While many audiences enjoy longer creations, beginning small is a great way to maximize potential and practice entertainment making skills. For these reasons, we look forward to seeing what this creative team will produce next.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

Beautifully Broken [2018] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

The Hartley Family appears to have it all on the outside; they are a seemingly successful American family.  However, little do they know that their lives are about to become far more complicated than before.  They inadvertently cross paths with William Mwizerwa, a Rwandan refugee who moved from Kenya to America to try to make a new life for his family, whom he had to flee the Rwandan genocide with.  These lives also intersect with another Rwandan family who has been forever changed by the genocide.  Little do they know that collectively, they will experience both brokenness and God’s redemption after brokenness in ways they never before dreamed.

 

Production Quality (2 points)

Beautifully Broken is an independent film that has finally come to fruition after being in the works for a while, and it bears some key hallmarks of an indie production.  Though the production begins in a fairly rough manner, including wild camera work, weird light filters, and dizzying flashbacks, this is mainly only the first third of the film.  It seems like this part of the film was produced separately from the rest of the movie since the remainder of the film has a significant quality increase.  This is evident as the camera work, video quality, and audio quality all make marked improvements.  The soundtrack is effective and culturally appropriate; however, sometimes sets and locations do not fully live up to the hype.  Nevertheless, this production does enough in the latter two-thirds to make this section overall above average.  It seems like time was spent to improve this part of the film, and they likely did the best they could with the budget they had.  The one drawback is that the editing does not improve throughout the film, but this is is mainly due to the large amount of plot content.  As a whole, this is a great first-time production.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

It’s an excellent idea to begin your movie career with a complex true story rather than to use original content, especially since we have a deficit of creative screenwriters in Christian film.  However, one of the main pitfalls of using a true story is trying to include too much content.  In some ways, it seems like the writing team of Beautifully Broken bit off more than they could chew, but this does not diminish the great message this powerfully true story has to offer.  The downside is that there are one too many ‘filler’ scenes that waste precious time; the sheer amount of content in this plot does not allow space to develop the characters as much as they could have been, and narration and expository dialogue is used too often as a shortcut for full character and story development.  However, despite its rough beginning and inconsistency in the middle, the final third of the plot are definitely worth the wait, and they keep this section higher than it would have normally been.  This writing team definitely has more potential in the future once they master organization and character development.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

It’s possible that the uneven and inconsistent acting is the main thing that derailed Beautifully Broken from a possible Hall of Fame run. While some cast members, like Benjamin Onyango, are very good in their performances, other cast members, like Scott William Winters, cancel out any good that is done.  Once again, Onyango is not given the space he needs to fully show his potential as an actor.  However, for the most part, emotional performances are believable and effective.  Costuming is culturally appropriate, and great efforts were taken to cast culturally authentic cast members.  Overall, this rounds out a great first effort.

Conclusion

A lot of work has clearly been put into making Beautifully Broken happen after a fairly long period of time has passed, and the finished product is both better than most films and not as good as it could have been.  There is plenty of positive in this film, and it is likely worth your time to see when it releases.  There is a great message to learn, and this story is definitely worth being told.  In summary, this film is a great start to a promising career, so it will be interesting to see what they have to offer next.

 

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points