A Kiss Of Chaos (2009/Maya DVD) + Shake Hands With
The Devil (2007/E1 DVD)
C+/C Sound: C+ Extras: C-/C+ Films: B-/C
a fictional film turns out to have more edge than a similar project based on a
serious real life event. It does not
happen often, especially these days, but it can.
Sean Thompson’s A Kiss Of Chaos (2009)
starts out like many of the lame gangster films we’ve seen today, with tough
talk, gunplay, a deadly situation caused by involvement in shady business and
you know someone will die. However, the
writer/director has us quickly move into the thick of the story showing us that
something much more is going on. You
have a subtle betrayal decision that puts a large bag of cocaine on the
streets, a female artist who is dealing with her ugly family past (plus its
current family repercussions and her private sexual relationships), you have
others anxious & desperate to cash in on any opportunity whatsoever, then
there are the owners of that narcotic package who want either the package or
its cash equivalent… or both.
the drugs may be a MacGuffin, the point is it also serves as an excuse to be a
character study of these people, their surroundings and things that becomes so
realistically cold and cynical that this is one of the rare works of late that
actually achieves true Film Noir territory versus the hundreds of posers and
imitators we have had to suffer through in recent years. Judy Marte, Manny Perez and Adam Rodriguez
(in what he knowns is a scene-stealing role) head a cast of very good actors in
one of the few good Gangster tales in post-The
Sopranos era. It may have some
inconsistencies, some digital work does not work and we have seen some things
here before, but it is one of the only such works of late to seem of its time
and era without being a silly copy of endless clichés.
wrote and directed this work and may be one of the few next really promising
directors out there in what has become a vast wasteland of wanna bees and
phonies. I hope he gets to make another
Spottiswoode’s Shake Hands With The
Devil, a 2007 effort that wants to tell us about a solider (Roy Dupris)
fighting for survival against the same forces that responsible for genocide in
Rwanda, sadly lands up being all over the place and despite being based on a
book, I thought the script (based on the book by Lt. Roméo Ballaire, who Dupris
plays) did not go all the way or beyond the confines of a very sadly
predictable path of his story.
for the U.N., on behalf of his home country of Canada, he becomes a lone voice
trying to go beyond the peacekeeping mandate in the country because the
genocidal situation is so bad that he rightly believes it is insufficient to
stop much worse form happening. Though
the acting is good and intent is sincere, the film is not much above a telefilm
and feels late versus the likes of Hotel
Rwanda, but it is at least a record if the truth. The cast is good including mostly unknown
actors here and the interesting Deborah Kara Unger. At least it is an ambitious work.
enhanced 2.35 X 1 image on both features have their issues, both on the soft
side, but Devil has larger issues
with less detail and consistency throughout.
Chaos has some good shots and
has a smart use of color that seems to be too rare these days. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes on each also are
really pushing the dialogue-based films which are more than simple stereo at
best, though Chaos has more of a
soundfield because it has good ideas about ambience in its soundmix.
Devil include a feature length audio
commentary track with Spottiswoode & Ballaire, second with the other
filmmakers and a Making Of featurette,
while Chaos only has some trailers
when it deserves much more.
- Nicholas Sheffo