Written & Directed by: #SethMagana
Short Film Review by: #ChrisBuick
In Dallas, Texas, on November 22nd 1963, sometime after twelve-thirty in the afternoon, two men meet in a darkened hotel room, one clearly in distress and on edge, the other simply after confirmation.
“Are we at half-staff?”
“Yeah, the flags are lowered”
And so, it is confirmed. The 35th President of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy, has been killed.
Short film The Big Red White and Blue from #filmmaker Seth Magana plants its feet firmly in the aftermath of arguably one of the most significant peacetime events of the 20th century, certainly in American history if not the entire world, perpetuating the not insignificantly supported theory that the aforementioned president’s untimely death was the part of a bigger conspiracy. It’s unclear to us the exact nature of the involvement of these two gentlemen in this tragedy, but when they realise that one of their cohorts has been apprehended after the fact (a man by the name of Lee Harvey Oswald no less), cooler and calmer heads fail to prevail, tensions begin to run high and trust begins to wear thin.
Magana’s The Big Red White and Blue delivers yet another impressive character driven piece that you can’t help but get sucked into, imbued with an unquestionably masterful aesthetic, convincing performances and an indelible sense of Americana, coming agonisingly close to being a perfect triumph. As a premise it incredibly fertile ground to work with, the continuing uncertainty of those events on that unfortunate day in Dallas opens up a realm of storytelling possibilities. Yet while it does a great deal with its own take on the widely believed narrative of multiple players being involved, it’s a shame that it never quite seems to hit a defining moment to make it its own, frustratingly ending just before it manages to reach its top speed.
But it while it might not quite manage to keep up the drama and intrigue right to the very end, it gives it a damn good go, thanks largely to stellar performances from its two leads. Boyson’s skittish Wayne against Carbajal’s more composed Ray makes for a compelling dynamic in their power struggle that unfortunately is over a bit too soon but with both having collaborated with Magana previously, it's clear to see why the filmmaker would be keen to team up again.
However, there is no denying the fact that the impeccable attention to detail given to every visual aspect of this film is remarkable, and if there is one thing that is evident from Seth Magana’s body of work is that this self-made Texan filmmaker is not only a devil with a camera in his hands, but is clearly evolving and pushing himself with each film. The wholly effective lighting, inch-perfect framing and incredibly well-established sense of tone and mise-en-scène doesn’t just feel brilliantly authentic but actually seems to transport you back in time and Magana yet again expertly uses his extremely keen eye not only to establish a sense of tone that is both adequately sombre considering the subject matter, but takes his storytelling to a whole other level.
Just like with previous projects Hell to Pay or the undeniably charming if a little rough Bye Bye Miss American Pie, The Big Red White and Blue is a gorgeously crafted #shortfilm from a filmmaker clearly on an upwards trajectory, each film becoming more impressive that the last, spelling exciting times ahead for this clearly talented filmmaker.
Watch the trailer here: