TRIBECA 2021 REVIEW: “CATCH THE FAIR ONE”

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“CATCH THE FAIR ONE” is a bleak at times, but oh-so-powerful film that pulls no punches in its hard hitting revenge story of a Native American boxer searching for her missing little sister. Kaylee (Kali Reis) nicknamed “K.O.”, is a former boxer and addict who willfully infiltrates a sex trafficking ring in order to find her missing younger sister Weeta (Mainaku Borrero). Waitressing to get enough money to pay the “recruiter”, Lisa (Isabelle Chester), who helps find vulnerable and at-risk girls for a sex trafficking ring. The same ring might have something to do with her missing underage sister which we find out is KO’s motivation. We watch as first Kaylee trains for this like you would a mission, except this training mission involves sleeping with a razor blade in your mouth to be able to use as protection.

All this comes in handy when she is drugged and ‘sold’ to sex trafficker by boss Bobby (Daniel Henshall). But Kaylee surprises her captor, kills him, and then sets off on a ‘no holds barred’ mission to track down Weeta. This all out journey leads to a string of events that take her first to see Danny (Michael Drayer), then with his abused wife & child in tow, to Willie’s house (Kevin Dunn), who is the real main honcho of this sex trafficking ring.

All along she’s been dealing with her unsupportive mother Jaya (Kimberly Guerrero), who has never backed her and made her feel as though it should have been her versus her sister. Flashbacks of Kaylee’s violent times in the ring bring us into what her life once entailed as well. A story that contains a lot of really well done twists and turns, along with real-life middle-weight champion, Reis is impressive in her hunt for vengeance, her hostile expressions and sheer strengths strike fear into her opponents – both in and out of the ring. Summing it up, Kali Reis gives us a powerful breakthrough performance that knocked me out.

Unglamorous, chillingly brutal and all of it left me wanting more. “Catch the Fair One” captures the right mix of vulnerability and empowerment. Reis performed her own stunts and the film doesn’t go overboard with gratuitous action. The unexpected screenplay makes this the one most thrilling film I’ve seen in years with a definite point being made, Native American young girls are trafficked at whim, this is not a fake story line, and they are also less likely to be even looked for. All this is brought to the forefront and in a wildly stark, yet realistic way. It only adds to the brilliance of this film. But please take note of it. It’s important.

B+

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Tribeca Virtual screening of ‘’CATCH THE FAIR ONE’ ~ courtesy of Accolade PR

“CATCH THE FAIR ONE” DEBUTED AT TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL

REVIEW: “SKIN” (2019) A24

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“SKIN” is a gritty true life tale that started off as a short film by Guy Nattiv and turned into this full length feature film featuring some stellar acting and a story, that while it might seem kind of familiar and possibly a bit formulaic, makes into a solid feature.

Bryon Widner (Jamie Bell) is a long-term member of the Vindlanders Social Club, run by Fred Krager aka ‘Hammer‘ (Bill Camp), who inducts down-on-their-luck young kids into his gang by offering them food and shelter, all the while drip-feeding racist bile into their mindset.  As we first meet Bryon, he’s already beginning to question his membership in the organization, even though he is getting ready to participate in one of their horrible missions to burn up a building with his fellow Neo-Nazi’s.   This self-examination of what he is doing in his life, intensifies when he falls for Julie (Danielle Macdonald), a tough young mother with three kids ranging from 5-13, who has cut her ties with the Nazi ideology.  When he starts to see new recruit Gavin (Russell Posner) go through the same process as he did, he starts to look for ways to get out.

This is where things get tricky.  As Bryon’s journey is inter-cut with intense scenes of his tattoo removal process, which is in and of itself, a hard watch.  We also have to bear witness to him follow through with the mission of hate crimes they commit which then get him put on the Federal most wanted list of criminals. He then himself, has to go underground and work in the same type of situations the people he once so cruelly hurt do.

While the story might fall into traps of it’s own making and be similar to the kinds of movies that deal with this subject matter, i.e., American History X comes mostly to mind, as our main character starts off the movie with strong prejudices and views which throughout the course of the film he starts to question. So why even watch it if we know what’s going to happen I hear you ask? We watch it because we want to see the journey he takes that helps him reach the point of wanting to change, and for me this is where the movie fell down a little, the story felt a little rushed at times. For example I felt that more time could have been spent exploring the family gang-style dynamics because it was that family dynamic that shaped his racial views, but it all felt very glossed over.  I had no idea how large this “gang” was or how much power money influence they had because the movie didn’t tell me.

I thought this film was a credible, true story of what living with the consequences of your actions can be, but also with the hope that there is still time to change. I always have a problem with UK/Aussie actors trying to come in and do strong southern accents as they are extremely difficult and I can usually spot faults with it immediately and here we have not only Bell (British) but Macdonald (Aussie) as leads. That being said, Jamie Bell was phenomenal here and pulled this character off completely, though Vera Farmiga was just criminally underused as Mom.

This film can help change mentalities. I was sucked into seeing the differences of some people whom actually live within this world and make these decisions believing they are doing good in the world.  All in all it’s a good film, I’d say it’s not as powerful as other similar films like the aforementioned ‘American History X’, but then again this a true story and that alone makes it an interesting watch. Not only to see how a real person so entrenched in hate culture can change their lives for the better of not only themselves, but everyone around them as well.

Grade: C+

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Media Review Screening: Wednesday, July 10, 2019 ~ Courtesy of 42 West LLC/A24

“SKIN” HITS THEATERS ON FRIDAY, JULY 26, 2019