Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|This Is Not a Film|
Actors: Michael Leydon Campbell, Nadia Dajani, Jack Kehler, Craig Carllisle, Callie Thorne
Director: Michael A. Nickles
Genres: Comedy, Drama
New Yorker Michael Connor attempts to find the woman who left him by making a film about her, hoping that someone (maybe you?) will recognize his ex and convince her to get back together with him. To help the viewer unders... more »
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This IS a film, and it's a GREAT film!
Cinema Crazed | Bronx, New York | 09/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
""This is not a Film" is something completely different which I love. I'm always looking for movies different from the usual Hollywood dung piles of sequels, high budget actioners, and tired cliché romantic comedies, so "This is not a Film" was obviously something different and original, and I couldn't have asked for a better entertaining time. This is obviously an odd movie with a weird premise that's scattered all over the place.
Michael (Michael Leydon Campbell) is a man whose girlfriend Grace left him, so, in an attempt to discover where she now lives, he is making a documentary about his search for her, and tries to plead his case to her hoping someone she knows will see it and tell her relying on the rule of Six degrees of separation. So, he asks his friend Nadia (Nadia Dajani), an actress for help in making the documentary and staging some sequences that dictate where his relationship went wrong.
"This is not a Film" is a film within a documentary within a film that only gets better as the story progresses. Done with deadpan realism and excellent dialogue this will definitely look as if it was ripped from real life, but don't be fooled, this really is just a film, thank goodness. So, Nadia played by the beautiful Nadia Dajani is the utterly adorable and viciously honest friend of Michael, perhaps his only friend now that I think about it, whom never really looks as if she likes to be around him but nonetheless she's his friend. Upon first approaching her with a film crew in an impromptu confrontation she begins cursing him out and yelling at him and walking away from him as he follows her leading us to believe they're enemies, but it's a frank and vicious introduction into her character who only gets better as the film goes on.
An aspiring actress herself in down town New York, she is talked into working in the film alongside Michael who is desperate to reach Grace. So, in an attempt to convey how the relationship started, where it blossomed and how it inevitably fell apart, Nadia begins playing two characters, the first one being Grace, Michael's love interest who acts out their first date, their first kiss, and their arguments with one another, and the other being Patty, Michael's lover whom he cheated on Grace with.
If you think you know where the story is headed, you're wrong, because this doesn't become the conventional dramedy, and never takes a safe move with the plot. Amidst the drama there are also really funny lines delivered by the two leads who nonetheless deliver them with deadpan reactions followed by many awkward silences, one of the best examples being when Nadia attempts to get into her character asking Grace's life story, and another in which she asks the girls age and says "Oh, so we're both 28" to which Michael looks at the camera with furrowed brows rolling his eyes, a reaction that just sparked loud laughter from me, there's a great gag with Nadia who spouts "Mu-ah" aloud when about to perform, and a really funny scene in which Michael attempts to re-enact his first dinner introducing Grace to his crazy family trying to get them to act natural in front of the camera with no success as Nadia looks on very annoyed.
As the "documentary" continues, and the drama unfolds we come to a startling realization with the character of Michael. Our first impression of him is that he seems like a sad desperate man at the start of the film, and as we watch he and Nadia depict the events leading up to his break up with Grace, we watch and we grow to learn that he was at fault all along. In one scene in which Grace (Nadia) is pouring her heart out to him about her cancer stricken mother, Michael proceeds to simply tap her on the arm and end the date abruptly, sending her off, when she hints at her possibly leaving due to her visa being up, she hopes for a lovelorn affectionate plea to which he merely says "You do what you think is right", and possibly the worst, when she begins talking about her dream of traveling to India he practically calls her stupid for wanting to go, and makes jokes demeaning her which leads to a fight, all the while he's cheating on Grace with Patty (Nadia), an old married friend from Jersey who is very intent on continuing her affair with Michael despite his obvious relationship with Grace.
We then see Michael's true colors in plain view; he's self-centered, self-involved, dense, and insensitive and no longer are we rooting for him. Simply put, he's a basic jack ass and doesn't really deserve to have Grace back; it's a really risky but nonetheless original and excellent move on writer and director Michael A. Nickles' part to turn the audience against the main character, the hero, and let us into his real flaws making us dislike him more and more as the film continues. I was stunned at the great acting during this and at the great chemistry between Nadia Dajani and Michael Leydon Campbell which is often very fluid and smooth amidst the awkward silences, numerous arguments, and dialogue that is always realistic to the point where they interrupt one another constantly.
I was sure this film would take a predictable turn with its story by having either the Nadia character fall for Michael, or by having Grace meet Michael in the end, which I realized was trauma resulting from recycled Hollywood romances I'd seen over and over, but this is as realistic as can be. There's a character named "The Puzzler", a man who sits in a coffee shop doing crosswords all day who imparts knowledge and wisdom to Michael about his life and romance as a sort of symbolic guiding spirit who gives him a lot of things to think about, not to mention there's New York City which becomes a character in it's own right.
The ending is left wide open like reality, did he win Grace back? Did he end up alone? Did Nadia stay Michael's friend? We're never told, and to that I say thank you to Nickles, because life is never that simple, sometimes it's just incomplete and there's rarely ever a resolution.
A somewhat flawed but ultimately original film and very funny mock documentary. This is very entertaining and a one of a kind comedy with great performances, excellent dialogue, and a realistic ending that doesn't follow the conventions of usual romance comedies."
Humerous and Heartfelt
N. L. Peterson | 11/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I watched This Is Not a Film at the Savannah Film Festival and immediately fell in love with it. I was thrilled to see that it was being released on DVD. This Is Not a Film constantly pushes the film boundary of the real versus the imagination. It's humerous and heartfelt at the same time, a quality very few films possess in today's cinema. I'll be the first to admit that I still look in a crowd to see if I can find Grace because, at some point in everyone's life, we're all searching for our own Grace."
Great little indie film
JF | Berkeley, CA | 11/21/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Cool idea for a film. Keeps you wondering throughout whether or not it's legitimate. If you like indie films and want something light-hearted as well, this is a solid choice."