Sunday, August 17, 2008

Juncture: Grade F

F
Juncture (2008)
Christine Blackport. Director James Seale

A young woman in contemporary New York or Boston (there is no clear sense of place), has brain tumor and only two months to live. With her remaining time she chooses to hunt down and kill “bad people” who have harmed children, and that includes everything from middle aged men who collect kiddy porn, ex-con pedophiles (who have served their time), and neglectful, heroin-addicted mothers. She uses newspaper headlines for her research and whatever they say is enough justification for her to travel to a person’s city and blow their head off.

I love a good revenge/vigilante story but this is a cartoon. The character is not well- motivated. She starts her killing spree even before she is diagnosed, so her motivation seems to be (guessing from a brief shot of some tombstones with her family name) based simply on grief. Nobody suspects her and nobody is after her even though she wears no disguises and has a tendency to stand under bright porch lights. At the end she acts stupidly and is chased by police but there is no dramatic tension The acting and directing are execrable, consistent with the terrible writing.

6 comments:

  1. If you're going to review a film. You should actually watch it.

    There is a clear sense of place: It is mentioned several times that her office is in Denver and she travels to Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

    She has already been diagnosed when the film starts, as is discussed at her doctor visit. Also, there are two separate scenes where she talks about her dead family and how they died, not just a shot of tombstones as you say.

    Since your only credential for being a film critic is that you watch film, then you should actually watch the film...or just stick to teaching.

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  2. I'm sorry you were not pleased with my review. I gather from the tone and content of your remarks that you are a principal in the making of this film, so criticism stings. But it's not a personal criticism.

    My credential for reviewing the film is that I am a member of the audience to whom the picture was aimed. My criticism is feedback to you, and information to the rest of the audience. You could learn from it, or dismiss it, as you like.

    Of course I did watch the film, obviously, but I did not memorize every scene and line of dialog as you probably had to in order to make the film. The character spend most of her time on the corporate jet or in her office, or killing bad guys, so while it may have been "mentioned" that she was based in Denver, that was not demonstrated in the movie. That's what I meant by no sense of place.

    My confusion over the character's motivation probably arose from the multiple flashbacks, which chopped up the narrative in a way that I could not understand the sequence of events. Personally, I think the story would have been much stronger told in a straightforward sequence, because then we could have shared in the character's decision to become a vigilante.

    I have never made a film; never written, directed, or acted in one, and I have no desire to do so. Those are completely different skill sets from the ones I possess. You are the film producer. I am the audience. You do not have to listen to me, but I have enjoyed listening to you.
    Bill

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  3. James Seale - DirectorSun Nov 09, 12:04:00 AM PST

    I don't know who wrote the other comment on your blog. I have no idea if they were associated with the production. But as the director & producer of Juncture, I thought I'd add a few words of my own.

    Despite your comment that it's not a personal criticism, I can't help but be deeply offended on a personal level when some moronic, self important "academic psychiatrist" who teaches "face and online courses" (whatever the fuck THAT is) goes out of his way to call my work "execrable". Then again, this is coming from the idiot who gave "Superhero Movie" a B and "War Inc" an A, so maybe it's a compliment.

    When you give someone's film an F, Bill, you're essentially saying it's a piece of worthless shit.
    I'll be the first to say our film is far from perfect, but I will not let some asshole hack wannabe film critic -- who's so busy with his Ph.D that he finds time to write hundreds of film reviews all year long -- call my film a piece of shit. Perhaps it's a good thing you didn't become a clinical psychologist, Bill. You might actually have to do something besides "research" all day long. You sure seem to have a lot of time on your hands.

    By the way, what ARE you researching all day there on the internet, Bill? You seem awfully defensive that we took out those poor pedophiles who have "served their time". Hit a nerve by killing child molesters, did we?

    I love it when some failed, unaccomplished douche bag takes his valuable time to slam other people's accomplishments and hide behind "it's just my opinion" bullshit.

    I pray you have the balls to leave this up and have people question your real motives in eviscerating my film. Read the review again, folks. Our main character kills child molesters and pedophiles... which Bill thinks is too harsh because they "served their time". Really, Bill? REALLY?

    Well, thanks for listening. I realize criticism stings, but it's not a personal criticism, right? I'm just criticizing your comments. Gosh, just writing this makes me feel better.

    Take care, Bill. Good luck with all the "research".

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  4. James, I am glad you took the time to respond to my review. I wish you had addressed some of the points in the review or in the previous comments. Name-calling does not help me understand what you were trying to achieve with the movie.
    One bit of information I can glean from your reaction is that you seem to feel that killing accused pedophiles is reasonable regardless of the law or the judicial process. I criticized that view as unrealistic. I am surprised if you personally disagree. That's not the way our society works, though it is the way a vigilante would see things. In the Death Wish series, the bad guys were stereotypically and unambiguously bad, plausibly worthy of execution, and the legal system clearly incompetent, giving Charles Bronson adequate motivation to take things into his own hands. In Juncture, we never saw any bad guy do anything bad. All we had to go on were newspaper headlines and unsubstantiated allegations. I would have given Juncture a "D" if it had some other outstanding quality I could recommend to readers, but I found none.
    Bill

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  5. James Seale - directorSun Nov 09, 10:26:00 AM PST

    Bill, please don't flatter yourself. "Reviews" are written by people with background in film criticism, who have studied film history and theory. What you have written is your opinion of these films -- which you are totally entitled to. But they are not reviews.

    And sure, I could spend time addressing your lame ramblings, but what's the point? If you had paid even the slightest bit of attention to the film (instead of surfing child porn while it played in the background), you would have realized where it took place, you would know the difference between an accused pedophile and a convicted sex offender, you might find out our lead character's ailment is affecting her behavior and that she was diagnosed BEFORE she became a vigilante. You might also discover she has plenty of motivation to act the way she does -- given her charity work with kids, her past experiences with violence and especially her impending fate.

    If you're going to rip someone's film, Bill, you could at least pay attention while you watch it.

    You talk about "confusing flashbacks" when there was not a single flashback in the entire film -- which means either you don't understand what a flashback is or worse, you need to be force fed a simple, dumbed down plot in a "straight forward sequence" to understand what's going on. If you are unable to grasp complex plot machinations, is that really a valid criticism of the film? Should you really be writing about films at all?

    You applaud "stereotypical and unambiguous" bad guys like in Death Wish? And you call OUR film a cartoon? LOL. When did they start handing out advanced degrees to simpletons?

    Then again, perhaps you're just looking out for all those "readers" of yours, right? Inflated sense of self? Check. If this site gets more than ten hits a month, I'd be shocked (and horrified).

    You say in your blog "I believe that teaching is not transmission of information. It is pointless to try to tell people what is true or good."

    Thanks Bill. Couldn't have said it better myself.
    You should change the title of this ego-ridden monstrosity and work in the word "hypocrisy" somewhere. Now THAT would be honest.

    I wish your writings had some hint of intelligent film commentary or some other outstanding quality I could recommend, but sadly I found none.

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  6. James, you seem most concerned about what credentials give me the right to criticize your work. My only credential is that I am an enthusiastic film watcher who likes to write. I go into my well-stocked, very diverse, independent video store and of the many thousands of offerings, I pass over most as not remotely related to my interests. I read the box on some that look promising, returning most of those to the shelf. I select a few that capture my attention and Juncture was one of those. I am interested in the psychology of betrayal and revenge, and I enjoy vigilante stories and paranoid thrillers. I worked for ten years as an executive at a national nonprofit corporation serving sexually abused children, similar to the work of the protagonist in Juncture. With all that affinity, I was disappointed that Juncture did not deliver for me, and maybe my review expressed some of that emotionality. I respect what it takes to create any artistic work, especially a film, and especially with a low budget. And I know what it’s like to put yourself out there. But the film must produce the goods regardless – psychological, cinematic, acting, social or intellectual. At least anyone reading this exchange might now be motivated to rent Juncture. I look forward to reviewing your next project, James.

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