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The Shattering


‘…pulls off a female-led psychological drama that, if you can accept the premise of the film, delivers on the idea…’

The promise of digital film-making was that everyone and anyone would have the chance to tell a story. That promise hasn’t quite been delivered; while it’s now possible to make a film with pristine images without mortgaging your house to do so, getting that film to an audience is still prohibitive. You either pay top dollar for a service agreement with a known distributor, or you do a home-made release and reach your immediate social media friends. It’s not impossible for a film to break-out to a wider audience, but it’s tough, and the kind of deals you get on itunes and Prime make it very hard to make your money back.

I get roughly thirty requests a week to review films, and tend to choose those that I think have potential. Writer and director Daria Nazarova’s LA –based domestic drama looked promising for a number of reasons; I can never cover enough female film-makers, but a chamber piece with three main characters is a good way to go. Claire (Daria Nazarova) is a young woman trapped in an internecine relationship with her husband Eric (Timothy Ryan Cole); her discovery of a long dark hair on the bedroom floor is the catalyst for angst between them. But what is the role of her therapist Monica (Charlotte Beckett) who Claire meets? Could Monica be having an affair with Eric, or even Claire? A disconcerting dream sequence explores the latter, but as the film’s time-lines fracture, it becomes harder and harder to trust initial impressions.

Emotional rather than physical violence is rampant here, and that’s an important distinction; Nazarova’s film skips the histrionics and contrivances that bedevil many low-budget films. The performances levels are good for the three principals, and the result feels very controlled. Perhaps too much so; once Claire’s unreliability is established, it’s hard to maintain the direction of the story, and the lack of visual enticements (or outdoor shots) may inhibit some audiences.

Yet over the piece, The Shattering just about pulls off a female-led psychological drama that, if you can accept the premise of the film, delivers on the idea. As we struggle to find an agreed reality on a worldwide scale, Nazarova has made a drama about the dangers of finding solace by ducking away from that real world. Well-acted and conceived, it’s a tiny but genuinely promising film that provides a calling card for a talented new female voice.


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  1. Hadn’t quite realised the role bloggers play in getting the new little films to an audience. I think it’s different with books. Writing one – and publishing one – costs nothing. But all movies cost money either in equipment, staff or actors so even if a movie is awful it represents a financial commitment. Doesn’t mean the product is any better of course but it’s good to know that the “gatekeepers” have their own standards and don’t inflate expectations to meet a PR need.

    • I get your point, Brian. True. Self-publishing a book is costless, to a degree. A film has a production cost to go with the sweat equity of publishing a book. I’d have to note, you can host books on a platform like Smashwords for free. But these indie shingles, most, if not all, do not do it for free: there’s fees involved. Usually, if you go to their site, and you see a “distribution page” or “we want you film,” a fee will need to be ponied up.

        • Oh, it does. Especially in books. Many have started as a self publisher and got picked up by a publisher and sold many books, even a book series. As for film, I always point to Street Trash: J. Michael Muro ended up a Steadicam go-to guy and did many of James Cameron’s hits. So, you never know where that begining takes you.

  2. Opening up books and movies to be created by the general pubic is NOT a good thing. Whereas we used to get mediocre drek, now we get mountains of absolute garbage. So now we’re not just digging through the drek to find the good stuff but we’re even trying to find the old mediocre stuff, because everything is so bad because it’s put out by a mixed multitude of talentless hacks.

    And writing a book does not make one an author (and the same goes for whatever the equivalent is in movieland).


    That is all. You may now carry on with your regularly schedule programs….

    • I’m keen to cast the net out for first time features and lo-fi films, because a lot of what gets made isn’t up to snuff. There’s so many films out there, so I feel it’s my job for look for something new and different. You can’t make a good second film if you don’t make a first…helping films to get to an audience is my jam.

      • In essence, you are one of the new gatekeepers. I have no problem with that. My problem is that “I” don’t want to be a gatekeeper but am practically forced to be because of how much I read. If I watched movies like you do, I’d be in the same place as you, but with a much worse attitude! 😀

        • Maybe that’s where I am. But absolutely, you don’t have to watch, or like, the same things as me. That would be a nightmare scenario for all of us!

          • I’m not talking about subjective likes/dislikes, but about the rules that books/movies need to follow to be good.
            A book filled with random words is not good, no matter if 1million people buy it and all claim it’s the cats’ pajamas. I don’t know the rules of what makes a good movie. But I do know what makes a bad book.

            The problem is when what you talk about likes/dislikes and it intersects with the objective good/bad. It’s certainly easy to get those tangled with each other. But it’s not something that is impossible.

            • Agreed. I don’t always like what’s popular, and feel it takes skill to make a film or book that’s worth the time. There are terrible best sellers, and my job is to call out the bad stuff and heap justified praise on the good stuff. I think…

    • To an extent, yes. But two issues make me oppose your rant. 1) honestly, do we want to be supporting mainstream hollywood? Do you really want to give money to people who despise you? Wouldn’t it be best to cast the net out wider to try and find–and then support–someone who is, even if not the most polished auteur, trying to honestly tell a rippin’ good yarn and entertain you?

      2) more = more. More authors = more material, and some of it’s going to be better. Or, anyway I think that’s what the NewPulp morons uh I mean enthusiasts are arguing.

      3) I’m a contrarian and you said something objectively wrong on the internet. ;p

      • 1) You make it sound like there is a difference between hollywood and indies. The only difference is in terms of potential skill (much greater through hollywood because of the gatekeepers) and budget. The attitudes are just as bad with the indies. And you talk about support. I don’t support either. Not in any meaningful way. One or two movies a month? They better be made bloody well, is all I have to say.

        2) More does not equal better. The odds actually increase against better material with more material. Why? Because the people who are writing that “more” are not good authors and they’ve been rejected for a reason. People who argue that there are X more objectively good books/movies, don’t understand how odds work. Yes there might be 10 more good authors instead of 5. But because there are now 1000 authors instead of 100, your chances of finding those 10 have drastically decreased. So unless you know someone who can find those 10 authors for you, YOU have to sift through those 1000, wasting a lot of time. Best of luck with that.

        3) Hahahah! Welcome to the club 😀

    • I’m very conflicted about this. I very much appreciate the roles that a gatekeeper provides to sort out the garbage. I never pick something up out of the Amazon slush pile to read, for example.

      But there are things that are likely quite good that never get picked up by the mainstream for all kinds of reason….how to find them?

      Honestly, I have no answer.

      • Melanie, it’s tough. We love film. We want to help the little guys. The little guys are new to the game and can’t take the critical hits. They don’t want honest: they want “attaboys” across the board. As I said in another part of this thread: I go mining on Tubi, since that seems to be a platform for less-than-B-list films, that is indies, hoping for a gem, wanting to give the little dude a leg up.

        I found a couple nice ones via social media. Monty Light’s Space (2020) is good example. I discovered it online, Watched the trailer, impressed. “This was made for $11,000 bucks off game show winnings from TV’s The Price Is Right?” Now I am intrigued. The film turned out great. Keeping the sci-fi vibe: Ares 11 is another ultra-low budgeter that did wonders with their funds. But there’s the “search and destroy mission” you have to go on to find them. And those missions unearth films that are better than the PR’d stuff I get from the small shingles, and certainly above most Tubi offerings.

        Are you a cat person? Shedding. Another one I found via Facebook. Requested a screener. Blew me away. Took ’em a year to get a distributor, but finally did. I am proud to say I was one of the first to back that gem. Oh, and The Invisible Mother was another one. . . . I’d have to say most of the new films reviewed are what I found on my own, sans any PR firm or shingle sending it to me.

      • Yeah, this subject is rife with angles to discuss and various subjects to consider. And most people have an opinion on it once they start to think about it 😀

  3. I get roughly thirty requests a week from people to rate their ****. I have to be discerning as well.

    This looks like it might be OK. Doubt the library will have it though.

    • Well, I try and avoid getting into any film that isn’t worth my while. This one passed the test.

      How do your library decide what you get to see? Can’t you request a film?

      • I have seen really nice trailers online, be it You Tube or Facebook. I have requested trailers. I get about a 95% return on replies. So far, my gut hasn’t failed me: every film has been at 100%. To be honest, those that I discover are far more satisfying that then ones I get through a P.R firm or indie shingle.

        • Good thinking. I’ve done the same from reading reviews on sites like your own. PR access is helpful in finding films, but I totally agree, nobody knows your instinct for what might be good better than you do yourself.

          • I’d have to add that these PR firms need a better screening, vetting process. I mean, when the filmmaker freaks out on you, it’s unsettling. Just because they make movies doesn’t mean their normal folk, you know? One PR firm in particular, it was just so unsettling, so I just stop reviewing their films, all together, regardless of the shingle, for a period of time.

            Needless to say, once bitten . . . now, I am even more discerning with what a PR will provide. Now, I’ll vet the filmmaker myself. And if something via social media looks off (I found one filmmaker leaving a ripping comment to the reviewer on a review, for example), I don’t review it, even if it shows (even a little) promise. How someone like that, a “filmmaker,” makes it though the interview process with a shingle, gets distribution, then to a PR firm . . . yikes. If was running a shingle, and the filmmaker was “off”: see you later, take your business elsewhere. So, we have to vet ourselves . . . luckily, another’s narcissism is our weapon.

            • Yup, if a PR company does a mail blast, I’m rarely wowed. I generally only pick the stuff that looks best, and sometimes ask pr people or film-makers why they feel that their film is a good fit for me. That’s often when you find that there’s no-one on the other end. Having said that, I’ve had some great experiences with unknown films, so I try to keep the door open…but yes, quite a few self-destruct…

    • Yes. I feel not reviewing a film is “a review,” in a sense. I have a personal editorial policy — one also shared by Jay over at (the great) Assholes Watching Movies — that, when dealing with indie passion projects, there’s nothing to gain by trashing someone’s work. Leave that to the Variety and Hollywood Reporter crowd. We have to take a different eye to these indie films (as does the fine folks at Film Authority), be they self-produced and distributed, or through an indie shingle. When it comes to indies: I pass on more films than I review. A major studio flick, of which I do not do many, is fair game, I say. Older “classics” from the VHS and UHF fringes: I’ll take ’em to task — with affection — since, well, we’re all guilty of lovin’ a bad film from yore. But still, bad is bad, right, nostalgia be damned.

      I’ve even gone as far — on a quest to support indie films — gone on Tubi fishing expeditions to expose the non-exposed and under-exposed. As you say, Alex: discerning is an art form. So while I didn’t pull many up on the boat, a few that showed a spark, I reviewed. (Truth be told, there’s some (very few) very good films that appear on the platform, but it’s an “expedition,” to say the least.) To that end: I have given good reviews to films that others, have not (and even taken me to task for it). But, again, you have to take a different “eye” to these types of films. While most just don’t work (you can usually tell by the one sheet and the trailer that it’s a non-reviewer), there are those few, that, even with their production faux pas, show a spark that needs a little stoking, as you know the filmmaker will grow on the next film. Even actors in a bad film will give it their all and rise above it. That’s to be respected — and noted.

      My advice, though: Don’t review the clinkers. We had a couple of filmmakers freak on us over our review of their film. Mind you, it wasn’t a “bad” review, obviously. But, guess what? Even a “lukewarm” review rubs ’em wrong. They don’t just want “exposure”: they want five stars . . . and even gone as far to tell us what to write in the review, to “reword it.” “What did we/I do to you, do you have a personal issues with us/me,” they’d say. So, if you can’t be fully behind it, don’t do it! It’s bringing on a headache and smarmy spam to your feedback section!

      • It’s an interesting point with regard to getting exposure vs. getting reviewed. People want to be noticed, but sometimes what they really want is publicity. I try to make allowances for indie movies that are made on no budget. The thing is, that’s describing more and more of the movies out there aside from the blockbusters. Even studio movies that aren’t seen as being blockbusters are often shot on a relative shoestring.

        • Ah, but “positive” publicity. Do not dare give the indie guy a lukewarm review. If you, you “don’t understand the material.” Then you get an email/feedback explaining the film — that’s longer than your own review.

          • Oh, I know exactly what you mean. I generally try and avoid getting into a situation where I have to deliver a two or less to a film-maker who has reached out; a lukewarm review is better not published at all in my book!

        • Agreed. And I accept that my positive review may end up being part of a publicity campaign. There’s more and more micro budget films vying for our attention. I try and be fair, and also include constructive criticism, but sometimes the key thing is to get behind something you like. As long as I keep the audience clued up as to what kind of experience they’ll get, I feel I’m doing right by the film, and the reader. Can’t fake enthusiasm!

          • Yes. As matter of fact, I just had an indie guy ask, on a film I just watched and reviewed, if it is okay to “use my quotes” in their social media campaign. “Of course you can,” I tell ’em. Of course, his response was, “provided you liked the film.” (Of which I did.) And we go back up to the top of this thread’s discussion. And so it goes. . . .

        • I have to add: It’s those “shoestringers” that really light the fires. When they pull it off a zero-budget and create something engaging, it warms that ol’ VHS in the chest. When they can do a lot on so little, yeah, that’s my review jam.

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