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Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Insecurity (2013)

Director: Robert Brink
Stars: Moti Margolin, Lauren Pruden, Suzanne LeGrande, Albert Mwangila, Cameron Goodman, Tony Tavarez and David Pendleton
This film was an official selection at the Filmstock Arizona 2013 round of the revolving Filmstock film festival. Here's an index to my reviews of all selections.
Of all the short films due to be screened at Filmstock Arizona starting tomorrow night, Insecurity is the most obvious sleeper. At first glance, it doesn't appear to be much, merely a ten minute drama about a man who isn't very interesting that would have benefitted from better equipment: the picture is grainy enough to have been copied a few times on video and the sound is highly naturalistic. Yet, everything about it is worthy of a second, much deeper, look, because this is a rough little gem that rewards those who fail to overlook it. Robert Brink, a Tempe native living in New York, appears to be best known as an actor but he wrote, produced and directed this film, earning his first IMDb credits for each of those roles in the process. It's clearly his picture, though he benefits from strong contributions from his lead actor, Moti Margolin, on screen, as well as Jeff Wong and Soham Mehta off it, as the cinematographer and editor respectively. Nobody else lets the side down either.

Margolin plays a security guard called Mario, who wouldn't appear to be anyone of consequence. He's not the brightest bulb in any pack, average enough to fade into the background. We never find out how many kids he has but my vote is two point four. He appears to be a decent man, working extra shifts to supplement his income and support his family, but he also has a slight edge to him that suggests that he might enjoy a little too much the moments of power over others that working security can bring. The reason he's our lead is because he's fed up of merely working at an ivy league school and is attempting to learn, of all things, Roman history there in between shifts. He's up against it, not just because he has to struggle with the work but because everyone else believes he'll fail. 'You should audit,' his professor repeatedly tells him. He 'should be grabbing up overtime,' according to a colleague. Even his wife, who says she understands about his 'fancy book learning' tells him, 'There's always air conditioning school.'

Yet he remains driven, less by all that negativity and more by the words he reads. Those that resonate most with him come from Edward Gibbon, who wrote The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in the eightieenth century. 'We improve ourselves,' he wrote, 'by victories over ourselves,' and that's what Mario is really doing, connecting with his subject in ways that he may not even realise. And that's why he, and Margolin's achingly realistic performance, is so easy to ignore but so magnetic if we don't. Mehta's editing keeps things moving along nicely and Wong backs it up with impressive shots, if not always flamboyant ones. The opening long zoom is very ambitious but it's the little shots that are most important, like the subtle zoom into the print of a book that blurs the text as if we'd spent hours looking at it too. We can tell how personal any discussion is by how far away the camera sits. Don't let this one flow past you, really look into it and, like Mario and his Gibbon, you'll find it very rewarding.

1 comment:

John 2.0, that's right baby! said...

I really want to see this wonderful sounding short film, after having read your perceptive review. I have worked in the past as a security guard, and so I will probably be seeing something of myself here, if I get the chance to watch it. Hal, thanks again, for another great critique.

John