CB Podcast Ep. 99 – “The Shape of Water” Review

For the first podcast of 2018, the bros look back at there 2017 New Year’s Resolutions and look ahead to what they will be doing for 2018. They end with a review of Guillermo del Toro’s newest film, “The Shape of Water.”
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  • Hosts: Josiah Wampfler, Sam Wampfler & Jake Wampfler
  • Produced by Josiah Wampfler
  • A Cinema Bros Network Podcast
  • Theme Music by Josiah Wampfler. Film clips used under fair use. All rights belong to their respective copyright holders
  • Music clips used under fair use. All rights belong to their respective copyright holders.
  • Visit our website for show notes as well as articles covering film, television, video games, music & more!
  • Email us at cinemabrospod@gmail.com

“The Light Between Oceans” Review – A Brilliantly Beautiful Romance With A Twist

By Josiah Wampfler

Blue Valentine. The Place Beyond the Pines. And now The Light Between Oceans. Director Derek Cianfrance has now blown my mind with all of these films and, shockingly, they are his only three feature films of note. From the first frame of Blue Valentine it was apparent that Cianfrace was bound for great things. But with The Light Between Oceans, he makes it abundantly clear that he is a brilliant auteur through and through.

In this twist on an early 20th Century romance, Cianfrance trades in one of my man-crushes (Ryan Gosling) for my other: the endlessly captivating Michael Fassbender. Joining Fassbender is his real-life girlfriend Alicia Vikander and WOW! These two are incredible. Apparently, their real-life relationship blossomed during the making of the film and that is immediately evident on the screen. Fassbender and Vikander make one of the best romantic pairings in years.

Though Vikander is a relative newcomer compared to Fassbender, she is every bit as captivating and convincing. For every brilliantly emotive look Fassbender exhibits, Vikander is there to answer him. Each one feeds off the other’s performance to create the kind of magnetic chemistry that is rarely captured on camera.

The film also features Rachel Weisz, who is every bit as superb as her co-stars, but to even talk about her role is a spoiler in itself unfortunately (If you haven’t read the synopsis/watched the trailer, DON’T). What I will say is that all three of these actors put in phenomenal performances worthy of awards attention, but it is Weisz that surprised me the most. I hadn’t seen her in much before this film and I want to see her in everything now. It is her character that makes The Light Between Oceans so much more than a simple romance and it is her performance that adds heartbreaking complexity to the film, as she pulls at our heartstrings and allegiances throughout.

And holy sunsets! The Light Between Oceans is one of the most magnificently gorgeous films I have ever seen. The scenery, a lone island on which a quaint lighthouse rests amid the treacherous ocean, is the epitome of tranquility. And Cianfrance captures this extraordinarily beautiful place under the light of sunsets and sunrises as often as possible. With his camera he is able to make one place emotionally different in almost every shot, showing how beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Throughout the film we experience beauty in loneliness, love, togetherness, and even tragedy. It is truly a unique visual experience.

The Light Between Oceans is a film first and foremost about love. This is not the simplistic love that is found in most mainstream romances that is all about surface level emotion but a love that explores the deeper complexities of what it takes to make a relationship work. The type of love that Cianfrance shows us involves sacrifice and forgiveness. Life is messy and, like the director’s past work, much of The Light Between Oceans revolves around good people making bad decisions. But we empathize with the characters as they make these decisions, making it all the more heartbreaking. Yet out of the tragedy that is the second half of the film comes a deeper understanding of true love that is willing to sacrifice and willing to forgive. This love is what is able to carry these characters through the tragic events of the film and, in the end, it is this same kind of love in another that ultimately saves them.


Indie Spotlight – “EVER” Review

By Josiah Wampfler

I will admit that I have always been a sucker for a good romantic film. I love a good rom-com like 13 Going on 30 and I think that Titanic is a beautiful masterpiece. Maybe I get it from my mother, who would agree with me on those points, but I think that we all can enjoy a good love story because most of us have been in love. So, when I heard about a small, little indie romance called EVER I simply had to check it out.

EVER is the story of a woman of the same name who lost her long-time boyfriend a year earlier in a car accident. She is deeply depressed and is moving through her life like a ghost. She can’t move past what happened. Then, in the midst of all this, she meets a woman named Emily, who she begins to develop romantic feelings towards.

Even though the romance involved in this film is between two women, it is unfair and untrue to categorize EVER as simply a “lesbian film.” What makes this film so powerful and so wonderful is that it is a typical romance in many ways, it just happens to be between two women. I loved this.

The film takes the best parts of the romance genre and the best parts of indie filmmaking and combines them to make a wonderfully touching story. It manages to perfectly walk the line between feeling heightened and completely down to Earth. While the situations the characters find themselves in are not exactly normal, they make for a compelling story. And while the performances by the cast are extremely real and the dialogue almost mundane, the film is never dull.

And it is these performances that made me love the film so much. Wendy McColm and Christina Elizabeth Smith play Ever and Emily, respectively, and are absolutely phenomenal. They have perfect chemistry and manage to portray the early stages of a romance in the most convincing, nuanced way. Through their performances, we see all the relationship’s rough edges. We see all the awkward, giddy, uncomfortable moments that are part of the beginning of any romantic relationship. All of these moments are what contribute to the authenticity of the film.

The stunning performances by McColm and Smith are supported by beautiful cinematography as well. Interestingly, director Josh Beck and his cinematographer Micah Van Hove decided to shoot EVER only using what light Los Angeles gave them, rarely bringing in additional lights. This makes much of the film fairly dark, but also extremely beautiful. Just as the romance we see on screen is raw and has its rough edges, so too does the look of the film have its own.

One of the most interesting aspects of the film though, is the way it was released. Because of an incredible soundtrack (That I have been listening to non-stop since I first saw the film) filled with many great indie artists, and the extremely low-budget the filmmakers had to work with, they were not able to legally sell the film. The music royalties they would have to pay were just too much. So instead, director Josh Beck released the film for free on Vimeo so people could see the film with this amazing soundtrack. I would encourage anyone to check it out and donate to the filmmakers’ PayPal as well.

Even though EVER is a free film on Vimeo made for $12,000 and stars actors you have never heard of, it is easily one of the best films I’ve seen in a while. If it had come out last year, it probably would have even made my Top Ten. It just goes to show you that you don’t need millions of dollars to make a beautiful, compelling film. Instead, great films come from having a great vision and the right actors to pull it off.

Watch EVER Here!