The Nashville Film Festival has arrived, and over the next week, I will be covering the festival and all of the films that I watch. From Short films to Documentaries to Featured Films and more, the festival is packed with movies that range from all sorts of genres.
Today I will be reviewing all the films that I watched yesterday.
Holler (Feature Film)
To pay for her education, and the chance of a better life, a young woman joins a dangerous scrap metal crew.
We kick off with seeing Ruth working with scrap metal, and over the first thirty minutes, we learn that her mother is in a rehab facility, and her brother is her primary caregiver.
Next, we start to find out they are struggling to pay the bills and get into business with some sketchy characters to stay afloat.
Shockingly enough, this leads to trouble and lots of it. We start to see the dysfunction between Ruth and her brother. They find themselves amid illegal activities.
Speaking of Ruth, who was played by Jessica Barden, while her performance felt uneven at times, she was quickly a highlight of the film.
Overall, Holler has its ups and downs, literally and figuratively. The acting is decent, the story isn’t anything new, but it’s a good film.
You Don’t Know Me (Documentary)
You don’t know TN death row inmate Abu-Ali Abdur ‘Rahman and the cascade of injustices that keep him fighting for his life. You don’t know Lionel Barrett, a celebrated defense attorney turned rural goat farmer, who inexplicably blew Abu’s case. You don’t know the prominent businessman whose mysterious cult orchestrated the crime or the deceitful DA who misled the jury. Know them–and the truth behind one of Nashville’s most notorious crimes.
Our judicial system consistently lets down the American people. For so long, our system has put innocent people behind bars, which is troubling, and as the years go by, we see more and more cases like this.
Jon Kent does a remarkable job of weaving in and out of footage vs. the interviews of the now. He drives home the point of the inefficiencies of how the case was tried, how ‘Rahman was taken advantage of, and how the jury pool was not strong.
Hearing the traumatic childhood that Abu-Ali went through and we cut to hear how the judge speaks to him, this was heartbreaking. The judge would make light of his struggles, and you could listen to Abu-Ali’s voice and hear the pain of not having his voice heard.
You Don’t Know Me is traumatizing, sad, and downright upsetting.
Devi has been breeding legendary pot strains for decades, farming by day and getting stoned by night, fully expecting to live out her days on the remote homestead she built herself. But when cannabis is legalized, the fragile balance of her whole idyllic life is thrown into disarray
It is the screenwriter’s job to make us invest in our characters, and throughout this whole movie, I don’t feel like they did a good job of making us invest in Devi and what she was going through.
Although we understand that she has to move the product and that since cannabis has become legalized, she is finding a hard time doing so, we still don’t ever feel that sense of urgency that I would have liked to have felt.
Legit, I by no means am saying it is easy to write a script, direct a film, or anything like that. I’ve been trying to do it for years, but your ONE JOB is to make me care about our lead, and they failed at that, just failed. The even WORST part about this is that the premise is relatively decent.
Finally, we get to the end, which is a disaster, because we see Devi just going down a destructive path but I’ve spent the last hour and a half not caring about her and I want to care, but you didn’t make me care, and now she’s slowly falling down this rabbit hole and I DON’T CARE.
Krisha Fairchild, you were the only reason I kept watching because your performance was riveting even though Devi’s writing was atrocious.
Want to watch a movie that the writers can’t stop getting in their own way? Freeland is the movie for you.
Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.