Of Fortune, Glory and a Few Plot Holes...
Let me just say first of all it has been a long time since I had been this excited about watching an amateur feature. When TEWS epic "Of Fortune & Glory" arrived in the mail I felt 10 years younger. It brought back memories of Christmas morning and you finally get to open that long awaited present. OK, Ok, maybe I'm sounding a bit dramatic but for 10 years Michael and I have been seeking to find an amateur movie THIS GOOD. It's been our dream to create a pilot show for FOX containing clips, scenes, or even entire movies made soley by amateur filmmakers. In fact, we are trying right now to get Mike Stolkas "Oranges:The movie" seen by Comedy Central and another producer in Hollywood. Being here on Rewind has shown us that there is a wealth of talent out there, and that an amatuer movie show on a major network IS possible. (Now WHAT to call it has been a real troubler..."The World's Best Amateur movies" =/ !)
Anyway, back to my review. I've send probably over 200 amateur movies in my lifetime, from friend's movies, to USC student films to amateur & non/amateur festivals, and Tim Sullivan and Erik Woods definately stand above the crowd when it comes to low-budget movie making. Their camera work is good, and the scenes are well directed and played out. Since I have so many good things to say about this movie (Entertaining as hell, terrific camerawork, seemless editing and sound, outstanding directing), I will instead be nitpicky and point out the things that bothered me. Besides, I know they're big boys over at TEWS and they can take it! ;)
For the most part, the actors were good, but there were a few bad moments that stood out. The cabin scene where Diriki Palmer laughs his evil laugh...
And who was that mafia boss? He smiled through most of his lines and was not at all menacing.
Also I hate it when I can tell what's going to happen in a scene. In the beginning, when Marilyn comes into meet P.I. Jack Clark for the first time, I could tell from a mile away that he was going to look up and be "stunned" by her beauty.
And when he found that matchbook right away after looking around for just one second...well, I'm being nitpicky.
My favorite actor in the movie was Erik Woods, and I didn't even know it was him until the end of the movie! He was natural, and overall just "cool".
Twice in the movie someone smiled or laughed out of place. I can't stand it when that happens in an amateur movie. I can just be getting into the reality of it, and that kind of thing just shatters it for me. I think they were both by the same actor. One of the henchmen smiles when the other can't start the boat, and then he laughs at the end when the other is yelling at him.
I loved the stunts in this movie. The guys really got into their work, and I appreciate that. Too many times when amateur movies try to do action, it end up looking VERY cheesy. The fight scenes were well cheoreographed and Erik did a nice job adding the sound effects to highten the effect. I really enjoyed the flip by one of the guys outside the cabin. Way to go!
Plot problems were big for me. Tell me if I'm wrong, but isn't that the same car Marilyn was driving in the beginning of the movie that drives up to the lake? Didn't they just take an airplane? Also, didn't Marilyn already know about the cabin, which is why they were going there in the first place, so Tim's cameo was kind of pointless. And why would Tim even tell them were Roland Whitaker was? He would have just played stupid. It was like it was there just to be an interesting twist, but it made no sense! So the bad guys knew they were coming all along, and yet they weren't waiting for them when they came. Also, I found it wierd that there was no reaction shot of Marilyn when the statue was broken. I know she didn't REALLY care about the statue, but if we had a reaction shot of her not responding and the PI not noticing her lack of reaction would at least be something, since such a big deal was made about how much she cared about it.
When they find the Diamond, Marilyn says, "After all these years we finally found it!" That's when I said Hold on! All she cared about was her statue...for all we (and Jack Clark) knew, she had only just found out about the diamond. Any detective worth his salt would have also wondered the same thing, and yet he only agrees with her.
There is a confusing change of axis in the shoot-out scene. The mafia guys shoot from the right and in the very next scene one of Roland's men shoots to the left. Then Jack takes a cheap shot and kills the man execution style in the back of the head! It made me think "wimp!" not "hero!"
I was hoping for a better twist at the end. I was so sure that Marilyn's father would still be alive and he had fired that last shot. There's nothing wrong with what they did, I guess I thought I was clever and had figured it all out but was wrong! BTW, that was a COOL final shot of Erik's sister!
I felt Marilyn had no reason to betray Jack. He had just stated the diamond was hers and gave it to her. Now what did she plan to do? Not pay him his detective fee?
That's about it. I hope I didn't come across as not liking the movie, because I certainly did! And I am excited about "For All Time", the next TEWS film, because I know how much amateur film companies tend to improve with each picture they make. We'll be watching these guys. Hopefully it's only a matter of time until the rest of the world does, too.
Marc Linn, Linn Productions
The BEST amatuer film I have ever seen is now available and if you don't own it, I suggest you immediately send the appropriate funds to TEWS Entertainment for your copy of "Of Fortune and Glory."
Erik Woods has placed himself at the FRONT of the pack of amateur filmmakers with this stylishly directed tale of a stolen artifact and the detective who helps a young, attractive girl hunt it down, dodging thugs, MATRIX-style assasins and speedboats along the way.
The direction and shooting is remarkably stylish and precise. There seems to be a great deal of thought in each indivual framing and the camera moves are very deliberate, never distracting you from what's going on. This is the storngest aspect of the film - the way it is photographed and Woods is not hacking into other dircetor's style - he is developing his own.
Also a strength is the editing and overall pace of the film. Woods has a good sense of movie language, and understands when to cut and what to cut to. Generally the film is extremely well put together.
Finally, the film's score is decidely well chosen. There are, I believe, some instances of THE MATRIX and some other recognizable fare, but for the most part, the choices seem to be part of the movie and never distract. Rather they add to the overall style of the picture.
But like all films... there are areas in need of improvement. Though Rob Peace and Carrie Tivador give it their best try, their performances are uneven and lacking chemistry... THEY COME REAL CLOSE to pulling off some good sexual tension, but either the script or the lack of well-chosen close-ups hurts them. Exceptional in their supporting roles were Diriki Palmer as Roland and Jen Woods as Selena. Overall, however, line deliveries were flat and generally without any internalization.
The only other criticism I have involves the part of the construction of the story. In order to guide us into some VERY well choreographed (and well foleyed) fight scenes, Woods first plants his characters into situations where they most assuredly should be killed right away. There is a good amount of unneccesary pause and BANG, our heros escape unscathed. This is a bit tedious at times, but i'm thankful for the rushes of adrenaline these lapses in logic provide... leading us into things like SPEEDBOAT chases!
Overall... "Of Fortune and Glory" proves to me that Erik Woods is the man to watch right now. With some help, his actors too may very well get better as he continues to understand the importance of them in his films. I HIGHLY recommend picking this one up folks. Please take a look and support this guy. He's going to be big.
Jason Santo of RANDOM FOO Pictures and the director of MARISA.
There are three things that I've come to expect from any project from Erik Woods: A good story, beautiful locations and amazing editing. "Of Fortune and Glory" had all three.
This story follows a private investigator as he is hired to a beautiful young woman to find a "family heirloom." As the PI begins to find clues he quickly realizes that there is more to this item then he originally thought. Seems that everyone wants it.
Carrie Tivador delivers a great performance as Marilyn Williams. She looked and acted the part perfectly and I hope to see more of her in future Tews productions because she is an extremely talented actor. I also really liked the performance of Adam Malseed as the slime ball gangster Angelo. He didn't fall into the stereotypical godfather like role that too many people do. Finally, I extremely disappointed to see the role of Selena, portrayed superbly by Jen Woods, to be such a small role. She was great in "The Hunter" and everytime she came on the screen in this film she exuded "bad ass" and I was sorry to see her part wasn't bigger. But, the final shot of her is without a doubt the best single shot I've seen in a amateur film in a long time. I won't spoil it, but whoever was working the camera here deserves an award. Pulling focus like that is a PAIN and they did a great job!
The locations were once again something straight out of a post card. Erik is extremely lucky to have such diverse and beautiful backgrounds to film against. I was very happy to see that he took full advantage of them again in this film.
I only had a few minor "problems" with the film and thankfully none of these really detract from the overall quality of the picture. First off I loved the fight sequences because they were some of the best I have ever seen in amateur filmmaking. The problem I had with them is that I thought they were foleyed(sp?) too much. What I mean is that all the punches and kicks were a little over the top so I felt like I was watching a Kung Foo movie (not that there is anything wrong with that!). I think if they had just been toned down a bit they would have been better.
The other problem I had was the same one that everyone seems to have had. The "item" (I don't want to spoil it) is blatantly fake and just by the way the actors held it you could tell so. I would have rather not seen it at all then to have seen it be so fake. But, thankfully you forget about this because the action heats right up again.
Finally I also have to say that I LOVED the twist ending. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but coming from a film company who loves to add a little twist at the ending just like Erik did I was very happy with it. The look on Carrie's face was priceless.
So overall what did I think of the film? I'd give it 2 thumbs up for sure. I have yet to see another amateur movie out there that has a beautiful leading lady, rocking fight sequences, an original story and a boat chase all in a single movie! You've got to love that!
I highly recommend that when the score is finished and "Of Fortune and Glory" is made available that you order a copy. It's 70 minutes of pure entertainment goodness and Erik Woods once again delivers an amateur movie that raises the bar another notch for amateur movie makers to strive for.
by C.C. Chapman of RANDOM FOO Pictures
"Of Fortune and Glory" by TEWS Entertainment and Directed by Erik Woods is probably one of the best amature films that I've seen thus far....and here is where I explain why...
When I watch a amateur movie it's difficult to retain my suspension of disbelief for many reasons. One: I can "feel" them shooting the scenes, maybe when I watch a larger Hollywood production I don't get this sense, but when I watch an amateur movie my brain is constantly dissecting the image instantly wondering how they did that?, or where was that shot filmed from?, or how did they shoot in that location? Often times I get distracted by sound effects that are reused or bad audio, or actors that stick out as somebody's brother who can't act and so on....(many of which I am fully guilty of)
When one watches a major motion picture, unless you are a key member of the Hollywood film community, you generally don't think about things like this. The acting, pacing, editing, and music will capture you and draw you into the film where you feel you are one with the characters and you get involved with the story.
Of Fortune and Glory is a movie that accomplishes this in the low budget film world. It manages to keep that fragile suspension of disbelief in check, which is an amazing accomplishment - to me that's what makes a great amature movie, not a good fight scene, or scenery, or even a plot for that mater. A movie can have the best camera angles and coolest hipest actors, they can even shoot in a neat location, but when it comes down to the line what really matters is how you get your viewer into the movie. Now, while Of Fortune and Glory didn't necessary have the most unique story line in the world, the talented directing of Erik Woods keep me totally involved and interested....... and I actually cared about the characters! - Which is a shocker when it comes to the films I make and some of the others I've seen.
When I began the film I was tired and didn't think I'd make it through, but I watched wide eyed till the end and was very satisfied. The acting was first rate, and the impractablity and overuse of Mafia bad guys was pulled off with good sense of reality and the fights were superquality. The locations were also very well planned out and looked great. The cast members all fit their respective roles perfectly as well.
I generally liked most things about the plot. I enjoyed the James Bond meets Indiana Jones meets Magnum P.I. style story and the pacing was great. The right amount of information was given out at the right times in order to keep the plot moving along with a great build up to a quality action packed ending. The Close up rack focus of the girl assassin at the end was most excelent....in all this however, there was one thing that bothered me......(spoiler).......................the prop that was used for the lost diamond could have been something different. It was obvious that it was a perfume bottle turned upside down the way the actors would hold it in their hands. This was very distracting to me and the fact that a diamond that large was cut into that shape confused and irritated me - it should have looked more natural or something. Also the motivation of the characters at the end seemed a bit strange. The point of going to the lake was to get back her heirloom that apparently had emotional value to it, though when the plot was discovered that it was a secret diamond - things got interesting. Having Jack and Marilyn go after it was fine, but when their lives were in danger they should have left without it (yes it's a big diamond, but guns are guns and that wasn't their goal).....and the fact that Jack was willing to kill to get it made them no better than the bad guy's they are fighting. This adds an interesting layer to the characters that could have been explored further, the concept of greed and betrayal and how the protagonists could have degenerated into thugs as well. Also if the reasoning was that Marilyn was feigning dumb in order to get the diamond herself why didn't she take the map to the lake during any of the years that she had the statue all to herself. I think it would have been cool to have her turn the gun on Jack at some point during the melee in order to have her get talked out of the complete insanity that the greed of this diamond was causing all these people to become wrapped up in. Unless that was your intention - to have her suddenly become evil and want the diamond for herself which is just fine and dandy, but I saw it as a complex scheme planned by her - given the genera of the movie....mayhaps the betrayal at the end was a little unclear.
Other than that there really wasn't anything much else that bothered me about this film. I thought it was excellent and I think it's one of, if not the best low budget movie I've ever seen. The locations were very well used, all the actors fit their roles, the editing was great, and everything fell into place to turn out a superquality film! I look forward to the next TEWS project.
by Mike from GMP PICTURES
Rob Peace heads up a great cast as Jack Clark, a private investigator hired by the beautiful and mysterious Marilyn Williams to locate a family heirloom which was stolen from her home while she was on vacation. When gun-toting thugs begin to show an interest in the search, we come to find that this heirloom has much more than a sentimental value.
Once again, Erik Woods dazzles us with the beautiful scenery of Ontario, Canada. This time around, the group pulls off some fight scenes that would make the REwind team proud. There are also sequences that I would have never expected to see in an amateur movie, and that add a lot to the overall picture.
As for the acting, Erik must have had an easy job casting most of the roles, having the pick of many of the great performers from his previous movie, "The Hunter". Rob Peace, Diriki Palmer, and Jen Woods all return for Woods' latest effort. Rob Peace and Carrie Tivador, who plays Marilyn Williams, look as if they've hopped out of the line-up of a new WB teen show--they indeed have star quality in the leading roles. Jen Woods takes a turn as a mob assassin, Selena Vascez, and I found her ultra-cool in this role. Though she has less than half of the screen-time as she did in "The Hunter", she made a much stronger impression on me. Palmer gives a little more than he was able in his previous role, this time playing an collector of gems and rare artifacts. And once again, Peace turns out a great performance, and TEWS Newcomer Carrie Tivador carries her own as Rob's possible love interest. The rest of the cast also deserve a round of applause for being able to pull this movie off effectively.
Although the movie I saw had only a temp track, it was scored wonderfully. It will be something to hear what the final, original score will sound like and how it will change the mood of the movie.
Now onto the one problem I found with the movie: the object that the characters were after (which is a big deal when you think about it)... everytime I saw it, I just kept trying to think of what it looked like. It took me out of the movie, and I had a difficult time believing it was what it was supposed to be--which obviously it couldn't have been.
Sorry. I'm trying not to give anything away.
I do highly recommend viewing "Of Fortune and Glory" for its beautiful cinematography, easy to follow story, high quality acting, and great directing.
by John Simpson
Creator of the AMDB
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