Thursday 15 September 2016

[Film Review] - Hux

Stars; Mageina Tovah, Harry Dean Stanton
Written, directed, produced and edited by Mageina Tovah.
Running time; 12 minutes

Hux is alone, frightened and one day rebels against the lonely isolation of her autism. braving the confusing, chaotic outside world. The sounds and sights prove too much for Hux with her attempts at interaction repeatedly thwarted by her powerful aversion to stimuli. Hux's isolation grows as a global pandemic decimates the population leaving her frightened and alone. When all seems lost, Hux finds one final chance to connect.

For Mageina Tovah, better known to Marvel fans as the shy Ursula in Spiderman 2 and 3 and with a host of roles in some of the US top television shows, Hux is a true labour of love. As well as starring in the title role the talented Miss Tovah wrote, directed, produced and even edited this stirring story of a young girl who finds the strength within to overcome her greatest fears. For this creative debut behind the lens, Tovah spun a delicate web of emotionally charged drama set against the backdrop of a cataclysmic world event. In coming up with Hux the story has familiar undertones.

Although the two projects are world's apart in almost every respect, the idea of Hux is reminiscent of another short film featured here in which the central character was limited or unable to communicate with the outside world. Whilst the outlook for Stutterer was more optimistic both films use their central protagonists coping mechanisms to tell the story, both even feature a supportive and understanding father figure. For Hux this was her grandfather played by late screen legend Harry Dean Stanton in flashback, a story telling tool that proves to be highly effect as we near the end. At the heart of the film though is its star and creator who not only puts in a career best performance but proves herself to be a capable storyteller.

As Hux, Mageina is delightful, successfully conveying the everyday struggles of people suffering with autism and accentuating it with an extraordinary global event that unfolds in the background. Mageina the director keeps the focus on her main character struggling through her everyday routine following the death of her grandfather. The viewer can't help at times but feel her frustrations with tasks most take for granted. Add in the foreboding events that sense of frustration is mixed with sadness as the viewer realises all too well this lovable child faces bigger challenges. Mageina really captures Hux's characteristics perfectly so much so that at the end when we see her take a big step we are left with a mixture of emotions, relieved yet with so much of the story to tell, a longing to know what happens next with a touch of hope that she will be OK.

Hux is an impressive debut film from Mageina Tovah who has proven herself to be impressive both in front and behind the camera. Skillfully edited by its writer/director/star and a stirring folk song from Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent  (formerly of American folk duo, Shovels & Rope) the film is touching, poignant and given its dark undertones life affirming enough to leave you with a smile on your face.    

Monday 5 September 2016

Get into the Mind of Cactus Jack

What do you get if you cross Travis Bickle from the movie "Taxi Driver" with the anarchic energy of Barry Champlain from Oliver Stone's "Talk Radio"? In the age of the internet and social media it can only be "Cactus Jack". With the rise of divisive hate-mongering political figures on both sides of the continental divide it seems that the polarizing rhetoric of racism and xenophobia, and with the help of the Internet has exploded into mainstream politics. Through their singularly angst ridden protagonist Chris and Jason Thornton's seminal film looks to cast a discerning eye over today's increasingly hot tempered political scene. Through crowdfunding the Thorntons are looking to bring this no holds barred examination to chilling life.


After being rebuked by radio talk show host for his less than favourable opinions, one man decides to take the host's rhetorical advice and so sets up his own podcast. Donning a mask and assuming the pseudonym "Cactus Jack" the angry angst ridden basement dweller unleashes a verbal tirade attacking every faction of society he finds objectionable; gays, immigrants, liberals there isn't anyone "Cactus Jack" doesn't hate. Of course his venomous words attract equally extreme opponents and it is here that Jack learns his words have consequences as one avid listener decides to go one step further to silence him.


Chris and Jason Thornton with the help of Producer Sidney Sherman of Rosa Entertainment, are looking to raise $20,000 through the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo which will go to completing production of the film. The campaign has just 8 days left to reach its target and in return for the crowd's generous support the Thorntons offer a variety of rewards including a finished copy of the film, autographed script and producer credit including associate and executive. 


"Cactus Jack" is a film that needs to be made and seen. Its decidedly dark subject matter through the eyes of an unapologetic hate filled bigot serves as the perfect study for the increasingly hostile political rhetoric on all sides of the fence seen today. Whether it's through social media or comments pages at the end of each news item it seems that debate has been reduced to abusive trolling, and violent threats looking to intimidate and silence anyone with an opposing view. So many films have featured a deranged disaffected figure who takes matters into their own hands to unleash their dissatisfaction with the world. "Cactus Jack" is the Travis Bickle of the digital age turning to the internet to vent his rage and in a bizarre twist finds himself the hunted in this dark thriller that is most definitely not NSFW. 

The Thornton Brothers are under no illusions as to the potential commercial viability of their cinematic labour of love with a portion of any profit that is made being donated to NOH8 and The Southern Poverty Law Centre;
"We're not making this thing for money or accolades. We're making it because it's gnarly and brazen and feels like a truthful expression of .what this country and world is going through right now, back to the beginning of time."
To find out more you can visit the film's Indiegogo page and be sure to check out the red band trailer below - not suitable for young minds and sensitive ears.

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