Best, Brightest, Or What?: "Beast Beast" and "The Glint of Darkness: Revolution"

From high school to super-soldiers, drama is everywhere.

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Beast Beast

For the first two-thirds of Beast Beast, there’s this overwhelming sense of impending doom, spread across the lives of its three main characters - two high schoolers and a young man. It recalls the power of films like Dark Night, which worked similarly as a mystery: Who is going to be the one to crack first, and how hard will they fall through? The tension is almost unbearable at times, but when it finally reaches its climax, everything… goes medium. Not flat or face-first, just equal to where it already was and will lead to. The tone is maintained, but it never rises or relaxes. It’s just a straight line.

Each of the main players involved come from complicated homes, are terribly creative, and are dealing with the pent-up frustrations that are so prevalent for younger adults. Emotions run high, and so do their actions, which can easily determine the course for their future. A boy, a girl, and a young man. A shy skateboarder, an enthusiastic and bubbly actress, and an amateur how-to Youtuber focused on gun safety. There’s this central aspect of performance and documentation that circles around the three, each with their own way of expression and their own relationship with what they do. They want to be seen and recognized, feeling accomplished and accepted. In the end, this is what we all want.

Beast Beast tries for relevancy and does reach it, but at the expense of being borderline mediocre. It’s a notch above, relying on the power of its actors to carry on, but the film doesn’t fully engage to any other level, nor does it want to surprise and excel - at least not in an above and beyond way. Not mediocre, but not altogether exciting either. It doesn’t have to excite mind you, but the resolution is built to such a high closing release, that anything other than an explosive and true finale would feel like potential missed. And that’s what happens.

The movie introduces to the world Shirley Chen, whose story isn’t just the pin holding everything together, but is indeed the shining spot. Her role is that of an acting student, preparing for a play at school and experiencing a sweet first love in her real life. She’s excitable and kind, but brews many emotions under her skin. Unlike the two male main characters, her emotional baggage is more unwieldy: Her home is neither broken nor neglectful nor unsupportive. She’s just a bundle of nerves, trying to be the best depiction of her class assignment as possible. What Chen brings is more than just lived-in - I suspect that she really was an acting student in school - it’s honest. Chen is playing it likely as herself, but it’s a version of herself that feels previously hidden from the world and locked up out of vulnerable fear. Fear of being hurt, and fear of hurting.

Here, she’s going for both. And once she does, unwieldy turns to heightened focus, attacking like a laser.

The film goes a long way in making us care for the three, especially the skateboarder Nito, played with generosity and shy charm by Jose Angeles. He’s absolutely affecting, again by being an open version of his own self. The same can be said for Will Madden’s Adam, the third player in this drama. If Beast Beast is grand at anything, it’s in pulling truth out of these connected individuals, and in making all of us empathize honestly with them, no matter what they do. It’s wonderfully magical in this way, without any trick attached. Unfortunately, aside from some good pacing and lovely cinematography, this is where the grandness stops.

Beast Beast’s final third loses its way, and loses us a bit too. It’s not an embarrassment of an ending, but rather a steady and too-even line. Nothing more or less, nothing gained or taken away, just a finish that doesn’t live up to everything good prior to it. It’s oblong. It’s just kind of ok. It’s what it is.

The Glint of Darkness: Revolution

Awfulness comes in many unfortunate forms. With The Glint of Darkness: Revolution, it arrives in a most boring if well-intentioned one.

From what I understand, Glint of Darkness was made by an engineer who wishes to make bigger budget actioners. It’s from a dreamer out of India, who likes thrillers and fighting flicks. This is clear in watching the short fifty-minute film, but so is an inability to shoot and cut together something exciting or coherent.

The movie rolls along in beautifully filmed black & white, lit with a sense of place and an eye for coolness. It also stumbles every few but close together steps, with difficult and choppy technical gaffes, with action sequences devoid of comprehension from all angles and perspectives, and with bursts of silly exposition that feels tacked on at the last minute, only to let us in on very little to what’s possibly happening.

Glint of Darkness appears to be about a big conspiracy involving a group of spy super soldiers and the investigative journalists looking to expose them, but really is just people moving from parking garage to street corner, talking in empty statements and lacking emotions about hard drives and danger. This danger often involves men who confront, chase, and slightly fight the so-called protagonists, but usually end up being poorly choreographed and confusing slap fests, ending in awkward walk-offs and uncomfortable jump-cuts to the next scene. The film feels both unfinished and ill-produced, misguided and in over its own head.

I’ve read that the filmmaker wishes to make more movies, longer with larger stakes and designs. Don’t we all wish to go bigger and better. Sadly, passion doesn’t always come out well in what we make, and sometimes we jump before being ready for the fall. Glint of Darkness has some well-lit and stunning shots that impress highly, but makes no real sense and is only a hair away from shot-on-video backyard cinema - though, in those movies, there’s at least eagerness to put on quite a show. Glint of Darkness feels hesitant and anxious on top of being ignorant in how best to tell its story. Passion can go a long way, but it must be reflected back to us somehow. It can’t ever be left to chance or good intentions.

Movies Du Monde is paywall-free, but is easier to produce with support from moviegoers all over. If you like what you read here, be sure to share and sign up. If you like what you read, do subscribe or leave a tip. All feedback is welcome, so don’t hesitate to reach out!