Thursday, November 28, 2013

Film Review: The New Republic

Copyright: Osiris Entertainment
Imagine a city in the near future. Imagine an another city inside of it called New Angeles, an inner city where the poor, addicted and those who seek a life of crime live together. If someone decided to isolate them by making public transport complicated and bothersome, and the rents low and affordable, would they just slowly implode?

Or would they recognize their real oppressor and organize to do something about it? But maybe there isn’t a real oppressor, or oppressed, just bad life choices and bad luck.

The New Republic is a masterpiece considering its budget was around $25,000. Objectively speaking, it has many flaws, but they don’t matter that much when I think about the amount of money it took to make this film.

Jeoff Hanser wrote and directed this movie in 2011 and I’m not sure why did I hear about it only a few days ago (there isn’t much info about it online). This is the first full length film for Hanser, who was only 26 years old when he made it. The script follows David, a bored quasi-anarchist writer who gets expelled from college for dealing cigarettes (deemed a narcotic in the future West coast of the US). While he smokes and serves out his house arrest, a shadowy group called The Nationalist expresses a wish to recruit him as a publicist/propagandist. Not long after that an equally shadowy government security agency also contacts him. In one day, David is left to decide between the fire and the frying pan, with the added possibility of getting cooked in both.

Hanser’s script is really tight and well-managed in the first two-thirds of the film. As the mystery deepens, his plot begins to get shaky and somewhat looses steam. His directorial pace looks more suited for a slower development and the search for psychological insight on the main character (Owen Beckman does a solid job playing David, but often forces his overly cool demeanor). When the action picks up, the movie starts to feel insecure. Here, Hansers added modern stuff like floating letters in scenes where he marks out stuff like Team 1 and Team 2. This wasn’t present in the first part of the film and looks as if he thought that the action needed more flair. I feel like he should have stayed out of any notion of physical violence, and instead used The Nationalist as a catalyst of potential social change (although he tried something similar, but it lost in the thrilling ending).

But, I have to mention the photography. The film takes place in the lager Los Angeles metropolitan area, and Hanser did a great job with the footage of the city and its inhabitants. Night shots of deserted streets and lonely blinking stop lights fit perfectly with the daytime scenes of garbage littered sidewalks and the destitute tenants of New Angeles that occupy them. The New Republic looks like something a far more expensive, so it’s clear that a lot of hard work and talent must have had been invested to do this.

As a political thriller, The New Republic works to a degree. As a film on an incredibly small budget, it works as a charm, and is far superior, or at least a lot more ambitious than the movies that had a much larger amount of money in their coffers. I hope that Jeoff Hanser keeps making films in this way, and that he starts to invests some time in their online promotion.

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