UPDATE: Swivel Shot is now available for viewing at the following link:
Cinequest Film Festival alumni, writer/director Christopher Glatis, has premiered his new crime/thriller short Swivel Shot at the festival in March. He’s returned to San Jose after screening his “BEST OF THE FEST” feature, Dose Of Reality, in 2013. (Read my interview with him here.)
Swivel Shot is a story of two LAPD police officers at the height of their love affair, who intend to surprise each other with joyful news. Unfortunately, a day that could have been beautiful for both, turns into heartbreak. Swivel Shot is a moving story of timing, fate and destiny.
The film stars Rick Ravanello (Hart’s War opposite Bruce Willis and Colin Farrell, and Monte Walsh opposite Tom Selleck and Keith Carradine). And Jacqueline Piñol, whose known for her work in The Fault in Our Stars (2014), The Call (2013) and Bride Wars (2009).
When it comes to reviewing a short film (that is only fourteen minutes long), I must admit this is new and uncharted territory for a veteran reviewer like me. Additionally, it is wise to point out that this is an adult film, not intended for children or young teens. There is violence, profanity, and some tempestuous bedroom scenes that show about the same amount of skin one might see on cable television without it being too far over the line of decency. Those scenes are short (pun unintentionally intended), but I did not find myself overly bothered as I was fully immersed in the storyline, and in effect, everything included in this film is essential, in my humble opinion.
From the beginning of this intense tale, I was enticed by the unusual way in which the story is told. While flashbacks are a common film device, this film uses a unique approach to this tool. The story is told out of sequence on purpose, but that merely heightens the overall message and compelling nature of the film. Attempting to discern the order of events is almost an impossibility from the opening credits to the very last scene. In fact, as the viewer watches the film, it is sometimes difficult to comprehend when something happened and if what we are seeing are flashbacks, visions, or dreams. I strongly recommend that the viewer never turns away as I did once, and I had to rewind minimally to see what I had missed. Take this bit of advice from a champion multitasker–put away electronics, food, or any other distractions (yes, put the family pet in the yard for fourteen minutes–you’ll thank me later).
As the action intensifies, at every point in the story, the viewer realizes that if the male lead hadn’t done this or the female protagonist hadn’t said that, the entire outcome would have changed. In addition to this, each one is concealing a vital secret that had they revealed it, the story may have unequivocally been altered–whether for good or ill, it’s hard to say. Life is never a neat little package, and we are never promised tomorrow. As the opening Harriet Beecher Stowe quote states, ‘The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and for deeds left undone.” This quote unravels in every scene regardless of the situation. It is like an invisible guiding light that refuses to grant a second chance to anyone who overlooks an opportunity to declare loving, caring thoughts, for one thing time does not possess is a heart. Time only marches to the beat of a neverending drum that cannot, will not cease no matter how heartbreaking or delectable the current moment is.
As the stunning, but straight-talking and sometimes sassy female cop, Jacqueline is an absolute dream. She is stalwart, and refuses to lean on anyone for support. She was reared in the stringent neighborhoods of L.A., and she views herself as the one who is cognizant of the true nature of the surrounding inhabitants. In many ways, she feels she has to be the authoritative one. Maybe her boyfriend thinks with his heart too much or doesn’t recognize the veritable danger he faces. While she occasionally gives in to his demands, don’t underestimate this spitfire. She utters Spanish and English with equal ease, and the virulent profanity she spouts may make a sailor blush (although I admit the fact that she has a mouth on her truly added some levity to this somber story). Her devotion to her boyfriend is undying–she would give her last breath for him. But she is a bit of a workaholic, and it is clear she is proud of her achievements. For a woman to rise to the level she has undoubtedly attained, she has labored excruciatingly hard. Even though women have come so far, they often still need to prove themselves in jobs like this. There is no doubt that she is the obdurate cop in this relationship.
Of course, for me, Rick is the main reason I even took an interest in this film (of course, now that I’ve seen it, my support goes beyond him). As the police officer who just longs for a pleasurable and stress-free day with his beloved, he is the incurable romantic who easily can woo his woman into the mood. Yes, he’s a good cop, but he does not always have the intuition for the peril that she does. He is extremely protective of her, and he would give her his last breath if it would mean she would go on living, but he sometimes lets that nature cloud his thinking (one of the reasons he insists she remains in the car while he investigates). Rick’s acting is as virtuosic as ever, and there could be no one else who could play this role with such conviction and effortlessness. As the film plummets to its inevitable conclusion, his acting reaches a height that few actors can attain in a short piece like this. Rick is one of the few actors in this industry whose versatility and innate ability permeate every role with infallible precision while still keeping that genuinely natural and nonchalant air. His talent is a bonafide gift that is coupled with his pragmatic humility and approachable nature to create a rarity in the world of egocentric entertainment.
Together, Jacqueline and Rick make an indomitable force that engenders a living, breathing organism from the tumultuous tale that Chris has scripted. So much is told through their facial expressions and the moments of deathly silence that sometimes force the tension to rise beyond the breaking point. Although the culmination is inconclusive, it will rock your world as the final scene drops the bombshell that I could have just kicked myself for not comprehending in the opening credits. I will always disagree with the writer (sorry, Chris) on his interpretation of the ending, but I do tend to be a realist on films like this. No matter what conclusion you hold to, I predict that if you watch this film with an open mind, you will find yourself as speechless as I when the final words are spoken. While I have witnessed a very few short films, this one possesses a warmth of human touch and a nod to one of the most underappreciated but highly necessary careers in the world today. I cannot and will not ever view the duties and responsibilities of police officers in the same flippant way I may have before viewing this film.
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