Film of the week: “Blacktino” by Aaron Burns (Trailer)
Stefan Daily is raised by his grandmother since being abandoned by his movie producer father and drug addicted mother. Uncomfortable and unsure of himself his only refuge is in the theater department of his high school and his best friend Laura (Devyn Ray). As he deals with trying to be accepted by the other students and the trials of his family life he finds hope in his passion for theatre.
The movie is sprinkled with humorous beats that hit the mark and is also supported by the performance of Stefan’s best friend Laura (Ray). She delivers as his trusty sidekick/ love interest throughout the film even as he repeatedly makes poor choices and seeks the approval from a crowd that does little more than belittle him over and over again. Memorable performances by Danny Trejo and Jeff Fahey also help keep the movie afloat during otherwise bleak pacing.
Being a low-budget, Indie Film is also worthwhile to note that the film had a very good and consistent production value. This comes as no surprise after learning that director Aaron Burns got his start working for Robert Rodriguez at his Troublemaker Studios. With Rodriguez former wife Elizabeth Avellan producing, and a cameo by Michelle Rodriguez, it’s evident that he was able to call in a lot of favors based on either faith or character which is a good thing.
Overall the movie struggles due to the monotone performance by the lead played by Austin Marshall. The Q&A after the film revealed that his monotone voice is real and doesn’t seem to be a part of a character created for the film. He could always be channeling Joaquin Phoenix but It’s doubtful.
The movie was also chock full of conflict. Every film needs conflict though it might have been wise to remember that the character was a high school student and the level of conflict he encounters would probably not have affected him the way the film portrays. That may sound opinionated and biased but truthfully it was again the performance of Marshall that made the majority of the reaction to the films conflict unbelievable. There were also quite a few quirky elements in the movie that were a little too obviously quirky for quirkys sake.
Although the performance at end of the film touched on racial issues the film itself didn’t seem to incorporate very much conflict that actually stemmed from his being bi-racial. Most of his conflict came from just having bad parents and his trying to hard to impress the wrong crowd. This makes the title of the film seem a little gimicky though after hearing the director speak about the film it’s clear he was sincere about his motivations behind the title and the film. His main point being that race shouldn’t matter and that only the individual is what matters. The message might have hit home a little more if somewhere in the film the character experienced anything that hinted at his race actually affecting him.
For a first time director the film is not bad at all however it is obvious that Burns has the technical know how to craft a great film. This is completely evident in the Citizen Jane sequence of the film. I can only hope he’ll get another shot behind the camera though he might consider sticking to the genre he said he was truly passionate about, Action Films.