Caribbean Beat Magazine

Screenshots (November/December 2017) | Film Reviews

This month’s film-watching picks

  • Bad Lucky Goat
  • Homelands
  • Green Days by the River

Bad Lucky Goat

Directed by Samir Oliveros, 2017, 76 minutes

Out in the western Caribbean Sea, halfway between Costa Rica and Jamaica, lies the island of Providencia. Providencia is part of Colombia, but with an asterisk. The island’s population comprises descendants of enslaved Africans and English settlers, the Raizals. They speak an English creole, and their musical forms include mento and calypso. Providencia is Caribbean.

It is also the setting for Bad Lucky Goat, Colombian filmmaker Samir Oliveros’s whimsical debut feature, about two teenage siblings at odds with each other. Corn (Honlenny Huffington) has dreams of becoming a famous musician. His elder sister, Rita (Kiara Howard), gives those dreams short shrift. One day, while running an errand for the family hotel, their quarreling makes them run over and kill a billy goat, damaging their father’s truck. They decide to get it fixed without letting their parents know, intending to be back home in time for their father to collect some tourists from the airport.

What follows is a winningly comic adventure with inventive flourishes, involving an unworldly Rastafarian, an outraged crime lord, an inept police officer, and a fat-necked butcher trading as Sir Loin. These characters are of necessity no more than types, but Oliveros is careful not to make them caricatures. David Curto’s roving camera catches the action (and the island’s gorgeous scenery) with eye-popping naturalism, while Pablo La Porta’s harmonica-driven score and Elkin Robinson and Diego Gómez’s reggae soundtrack nicely complement the film’s visual delights.

Set against these virtues, the film’s weaknesses — some amateurish performances, a plot at times straining credulity, several continuity issues — are easily forgiven. It would have been reassuring, though, if in addition to the usual disclaimer in the credits asserting Bad Lucky Goat to be a work of fiction, there was one stating that no goats were harmed in the making of the film.

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Directed by Jaha Teleesha Browne and Tara Manandhar, 2017, 73 minutes

“Which side do they cheer for?” the British politician Norman Tebbit asked of immigrants from other cricket-playing nations. “Are you still harking back to where you came from or where you are?”

The subjects of the documentary Homelands would probably fail the infamous “Tebbit test.” The film follows four UK-based pop musicians — children of immigrants all — as they travel to the countries of their parents’ birth, seeking to connect with their heritage. Shakka goes to Dominica, Chanelle visits Jamaica, Diztortion heads to Suriname, while MC Saskilla finds himself in Senegal.

Admirably free of romanticism, Homelands cuts back and forth as the musicians immerse themselves in the cultures of their respective locations, each eventually recording a song with a local artist. Yet, more than the music, what resonates is the profound feeling these individuals have for their ancestral homes — the Norman Tebbits of the world be damned.

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Green Days by the River

Directed by Michael Mooleedhar, 2017, 102 minutes

In the year when Trinidad and Tobago has belatedly outlawed child marriage comes a film in which that subject is, if unintentionally, a theme. Adapted from Michael Anthony’s much-loved young adult novel, Green Days by the River is the story of Shell (Sudai Tafari), in his mid-teens in 1950s rural Trinidad. Shell is attracted to Joan (Vanessa Bartholomew), but landowner Mr Gidharee (Anand Lawkran) sees the boy as a potential husband for his comely daughter Rosalie (Nadia Kandhai).

Most of the cast of Green Days by the River acquit themselves well. Andressa Cor’s cinematography captures the lush landscape with pleasing depth, while art director Frank Seales provides an authentic look to a period piece despite a clearly limited budget. Michael Mooleedhar’s anaemic direction of Dawn Cumberbatch’s unwisely reverent script, however, leaves the film dramatically flat.

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