• Review: The People Garden (2016)

    From Mark R. Leeper@21:1/5 to All on Mon Sep 12 18:36:35 2016
    (a film review by Mark R. Leeper)

    CAPSULE: Somewhere in this 83-minute mystery story
    there is a mediocre 20-minute film struggling to get
    out. A 20-something woman goes to Japan to find her
    missing rock star boyfriend and then to break up with
    him. The search leads her to a possibly supernatural
    Japanese forest where her boy friend was making a
    music video, but has disappeared from the shooting
    location without word. The film raises many questions,
    answers few, and none to the viewer's satisfaction.
    Nadia Litz writes and directs. Rating: -1 (-4 to +4)
    or 3/10

    Sweetpea (played by Dree Hemingway) is a rock fan who has had a
    relationship with rock star Jamie (Francois Arnaud). We see them
    dance together once. Once. Supposedly they had some sort of
    relationship, but now Sweetpea is tired of the rock star. She has
    flown to Japan where Jamie is making a music video. Sweetpea has
    come thousands of miles to break off her liaison with Jamie. But
    Jamie has disappeared from the set without telling anyone.
    Incidentally the video-makers are shooting in the famous and
    mysterious Aokigahara Forest, known as the Suicide Forest, where
    many Japanese have committed suicide.

    Writer/director Nadia Litz was expecting that the suspense would
    pull the viewer into the story. But we are given little reason to
    have concern for the fate of Jamie or even of Sweetpea. The
    characters seem flat. We see Sweetpea dancing with Jamie and are
    told just that she had a relationship with him but that she is
    chasing to Japan to break up with him. Sweetpea searches the
    forest and finds where the music video was being filmed. Jamie had
    been there that morning but had disappeared. One would think that
    the production people would welcome Sweetpea coming and looking for
    Jamie, but Sweetpea is just met with (never-explained) hostility.

    The film is 83 minutes long and there would have been plenty of
    time for Litz to develop Sweetpea, but instead she lazily fills out
    a feature length with long takes that have limited motion and in
    which nothing happens. A good editor would have cut this film down
    to less than half its current length.

    At times Litz seems to try experimenting with the style. She
    throws in an overhead shot. I believe toward the beginning of
    there is a piece where it looks like she is experimenting with the
    number of frames per second. None of this is explained or seems to
    amount to much.

    Litz seems to be taking advantage of the current interest in the
    Aokigahara Suicide Forest. While Sweetpea tries to be serious in
    her concern for Jamie, it is hard to take seriously any character
    named "Sweetpea." Sweetpea is played by the very serious Dree
    Hemingway, the daughter of Mariel Hemingway and the granddaughter
    of Ernest Hemingway.

    This is a film with an atmosphere somewhere between dream-like and
    lethargic atmosphere, but it needed a much stronger plot. I would
    rate it a -1 on the -4 to +4 scale or 3/10.

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    What others are saying:

    Mark R. Leeper
    Copyright 2016 Mark R. Leeper

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