“Making and Unmaking” (2020) – Movie Review

By Andrew Buckner

Rating: ***** out of *****.

In the opening scene of Making and Unmaking, a fantastic and fascinating 62-minute documentary from directors Shaun Rose and Andrea Stangle, Rose speaks of the aspects of his equally captivating debut feature, the “meant to be semi-autobiographical” Upstate Story (2018). He also conveys how the endeavor would become “more truth than fiction”. Herein, he also speaks of his worries of the 60-minute Drama failing. Furthermore, he communicates how this would reflect his own alleged shortcomings.

The honesty with which Rose addresses these feelings and ideas immediately spoke to me as a fellow filmmaker who, admittedly, has my own share of self-doubt in relation to my own work. It is this nature of personal reflection and frankness that is perceivable within every frame of this brilliant and heartfelt project. This is also a glimpse into the myriad reasons why this is essential viewing for any creative-minded individual. It is because a great number of the shortcomings in the artistic process Rose addresses throughout the undertaking, especially early-on, are universal. They will undoubtedly hit home, perhaps uncomfortably at times, for many. Such occurrences help make Rose a relatable and engaging figure throughout the entirety of the endeavor.

Making and Unmaking concerns the triumphs and downfalls, both personally and artistically, Rose experienced while preparing Upstate Story. It also recalls the ups and downs in offering the picture to the film festival circuit. The exercise also goes into intriguing detail on an unfinished film called “Dog Day” (2012-2013), which was stated to be about the technological swing in society. We also get several equally intriguing glimpses into other shorts Rose crafted before Upstate Story. These behind-the-scenes bits, which come largely in the first half of Making and Unmaking, are wonderful. They are quietly touching in their intimacy.

Making and Unmaking benefits from its uniquely independent movie look and tone. This is reflected via the excellent and appropriate-for-the-endeavor cinematography from Rose and Stangle.  Moreover, the interviews and archive footage heighten the emotional intensity and compulsively watchable essence of the production. The script for the endeavor, credited to Bruce Rose Sr. as well as Shaun Rose and Stangle, is well-structured and penned. Continually, the direction from Rose and Stangle is equally deft.

Recorded in New York and made on a reported budget of a mere $500, Making and Unmaking is constantly admirable in the way it handles its complex entanglement of themes and sentiment. Additionally, it is efficient and nicely paced. The attempt evenly balances all that it offers audiences. In turn, the virtuoso effort is also a refreshing affirmation of encouragement. While portraying the numerous avenues of excitement and irritation a single fabrication of imagination can make an individual go through, it, ultimately, showcases the light of joy that radiates when the construction is given to the world and praised. In this respect, as well as all the other regards previously mentioned, Making and Unmaking is a masterpiece; a cinematic four-course meal. It is a must-see which every viewer can somehow grow from and utilize in their own lives. 

“Do You Dream in Color?” – (Movie Review)

By Andrew Buckner
Rating: ***** out of *****.

Directors Abigail Fuller and Sarah Ivy have crafted a genuinely uplifting and moving masterpiece with their seventy-six-minute documentary, Do You Dream in Color? (2015). The Final Cut production and Uncork’d Entertainment distribution release is a brilliantly and briskly paced, always engaging and meditative manufacture. Concerning the lengths four blind teens will go about to achieve their ambitions, Fuller and Ivy have presented audiences with an immediately intriguing and gripping focus. It is one which is made more so as we follow the varied, likable and charismatic lead personalities on-screen. This is as they endure the alternately inspiring and heart-wrenching circumstances they encounter. Such transpires as they attempt to bring their hopes to fruition.

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In the demonstration, Sarah Wright imagines traveling the world. Her initial step on this venture is the reverie of going to Portugal, Spain during her senior year in high school. Carina Orozco wants to achieve the honor of being the first individual in her family to graduate from the previously stated institution. Connor Head yearns to be a skateboarder. His plight is finding a sponsor for his desired activity. Nick Helms, who has his own alternative band, wants to make it as rock n’ roll musician. With the interconnecting of these accounts, Fuller and Ivy invoke a colorful, lively and compassionate group; a celluloid palette conceived of charismatic souls. They are easily relatable. Such makes it effortless for patrons to become swept up in their happenstances. This is true from the opening frame to the last. The result is an endeavor that is as emotional and harrowing as it is consistently entertaining and enlightening.

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What is just as fascinating and powerful is the denouncement of the public education system found herein. This is a massive obstacle for several of our protagonists. Some of the most riveting and poignant instances in the affair are derived from the fight several of these youth wage. This is to get more relevant resources for the unsighted into their own personal learning assembly. The labor than becomes as much about their ability to shatter the faux notion of limitation. They all yearn, regardless of their drive, to be perceived as every bit as capable of understanding and obtaining knowledge as their collective peers. This is the cause of the most captivating illustrations in the second half of the arrangement. In this section, those inflicted with this predicament try to do the best they can with the limited resources their scholarly place administers. Yet, Fuller and Ivy are not set to outright vilify. This specific area is presented with the same respect and dignity that the rest of the non-fiction projects onto all its various subjects. It yearns to make a change. This it succeeds monumentally at doing. All the while, it exudes the same reverence and bravery our central figures confidently carry. This is also a testament to Fuller and Ivy’s mature, appropriate, proficient and intelligent handling of the material. With this a quietly compelling tone is concocted. It illuminates all we come across. In turn, the spectators become an unbroken link to the singular viewpoints of those who deftly articulate their tales and experience in this sharply honed effort.

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Much in the manner of similar exertions, the chronicle is complete with its sporadic implementation of pictures of Sarah, Carina, Nick and Connor in their prior days. It also contains other related documents of our chief characters. There are also narrative voice-overs from our heroes and heroines themselves. Such heightens the intimacy stemming unbridled from the attempt itself. We are given stories about our main characters from the relatives who witnessed such occurrences firsthand. This effectively ties in to the plethora of perspectives and vibrant voices which flesh out Fuller and Ivy’s well-rounded, gripping tour de force. Many of these expository instances, especially those that dominate the first half hour, are undeniably touching. The various recounts of the birth, and the instant the kin who is articulating the anecdote found out their son or daughter could not see, are especially stalwart. But, there are quieter bits sprinkled about that are just as stirring. For instance, there is a segment that fits in this early framework. It showcases Sarah and her brother, Sam, going through a well-kept album of photographs. He describes who and what he is seeing to Sarah. Her smiling face often showcases the delight we all feel when pondering beloved memories of the past. Near the hour mark, there is a scene involving Carina searching for a dress with the assistance of those around her. These episodes are reminders of the brute influence of simplicity. It also exposes the beauty such a component derives when untouched. Such a quality resonates fiercely throughout the exhibition. Additionally, a near climactic portion displays Nick writing his own lyrics and explaining their therapeutic value and importance. This is in preparation for a show inside a Hot Topic location where he will debut the track. These are equally mesmerizing. This is for much the same modest reason as that stated above. Such also makes the movie about another permanently vital issue. This is the supreme healing nature of art.

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The Dallas International Film Festival and Big Sky Documentary Film Festival award-winner is as much a technical triumph as it is a transcendent, victorious summoning of the human spirit. Robert Lam delivers cinematography that is crisp and eye-popping. Simultaneously, this visual angle compliments the authentic veneer Fuller and Ivy provide spectacularly well within the recording. Sarah Devorkin and Mary Manhardt’s editing is phenomenally and seamlessly orchestrated. Arthur Baum, Michael Carmona, Gabe Salo and Wilson Stiner form a tremendous sound department. Their contribution consistently shines throughout the construction. Alice Gu, J. Christopher Miller, Christian Moldes and Arthur Yee incorporate hypnotic and proficient camera and electrical work. Furthermore, the music from Andrew Barkan is mesmerizing. It is the perfect soundtrack for the fearless folks at the heart of this breathtaking, real life opus.

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Though the year has just begun, I have no problem stating that Do You Dream in Color? is one of the best features of 2017. This is because I can’t imagine a movie accomplishing as much as Fuller and Ivy have here. Such a proclamation is especially accurate given the brief runtime of the endeavor. The depiction, which arrives on video on demand February 10th and hits select theaters afterwards, compels addressees to examine themselves and their own ambitions. More than that, it urges them to peer past any obstacles placed in their path that they deem “too daunting”. In so doing, it encourages them to move forward with their goals. It is a rarity nowadays that an arrangement of cinema contains such motivational control. Such is especially true when considering the overwhelming positivity this affair leaves audiences feeling. This is long after its terrifically satisfying, yet suitably open-ended, conclusion. Yet, the photoplay is expertly designed and thoughtful at every stage. There is genuine substance to the proceedings and the general impression it conveys. Fuller and Ivy want to alter, not only the broken system of edification and how those with disabilities are perceived, but how we look at ourselves. Because of this, Fuller and Ivy have created a must-see; a benchmark for honesty in cinema. This is the brand of drama that watchers of all ages and in all phases of life can benefit from witnessing for themselves. With all the negativity brimming in the world today, we desperately need more optimistic, rousing, message-minded and all-inclusive films like this one.

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