BluRay/DVD Reviews

CONDEMNED

By • Feb 16th, 2011 •

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This is the second neo-noir film I have watched in two days. The genre is definitely on the rise with young filmmakers at the moment. Oren Shai has created in 14 mins what most filmmakers cannot achieve in two hours. This short film is a tour de force on every level, especially from the cast of three players that seamlessly achieve reality in performance. Margaret Anne Florence is a revelation as female convict #1031, her focus is intense and believable in such a brief amount of time. Oren ShaI fully understands the fifties genre of ‘women in prison’ films, wisely choosing his moments with his actors to create a sense of loss and dread that is all the more remarkable since we have in a sense seen all this before. The key to the film’s success lies in Shai’s masterful command of atmosphere which never wavers.

This project deserves feature length treatment, if only to fully explore the themes presented here in the context of a prisoner awaiting her parole hearing with the sense of sudden death hovering over her sleepless existence.

In the mid-80’s there was a a terrific send-up of this genre called WOMEN BEHIND BARS, and one of the reasons for it’s success was a wonderful camp performance by the late Lu Leonard as the prison warden, channeling Hope Emerson straight out of CAGED. In Shai’s film we have a definite homage to that performance with Ashlie Atkinson as the “night guard.” She hisses her threats with great aplomb. Aprella as Laura is dressed and coiffed in the manner of Arlene Dahl from SLIGHTLY SCARLET, making her character ambiguous as to whether she will help or perhaps kill prisoner #1031 before the night is over.

CONDEMNED is a breakthrough film for Oren Shai, who should make this a feature in the manner of Jonathan Demme’s CAGED HEAT, with hopefully the same career in his future. Shai has the talent to follow Tarantino into the rarified company of young directors with an eye for detail and a love of film history which, in Shai’s case, shines like a new penny in the sunlight.

In short this is a great beginning for what I know will be a long career in films…Bravo!


To Watch CONDEMNED visit http://condemned.rockingoren.com

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