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Case Number 09942

Consignment

Slice of Americana Films // 2006 // 87 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Eric Profancik (Retired) // September 1st, 2006

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All Rise...

Judge Eric Profancik wonders if you can get your money back from a consignment shop?

The Charge

In this business you don't go legit… You just go!

Opening Statement

I feel bad. I feel bad because I'm about to write a rather disparaging review that was submitted to The Verdict via our "Promote Your Release" program. You know the people who submitted this DVD to us have the utmost confidence in their work, and they thus believe that we will give them some positive feedback to use to promote said film. Unfortunately, that is not what is going to happen. Sorry. I certainly hope I can find a few words of encouragement to sprinkle in here and there; but my overall experience with this movie was not a positive one.

Facts of the Case

Based on real life events with the names and places changed to protect the innocent and the not so innocent…

Tommy is an East Coast drug dealer working for Detroit Mike. After a failed "rip-off murder," Tommy and his wife Yoli decide to hightail it to Southern California. He wants to retire from the drug biz, but he needs to work a few more deals to have enough money to move on. But his success in those last few deals bring him full circle, back in trouble with Detroit Mike with his new boss, Moses. Things spin out of control and the body count rises as Tommy tries to protect the love of his life and stay out of the line of fire himself.

The Evidence

I did not enjoy this movie for three reasons: the story, the acting, and the production. That pretty much covers everything, but let me be more specific. To enhance my argument, I will be quoting extensively from the movie's official website (link provided to the right).

The Story:
"Inspired by true events Consignment is a [sic] intense movie from West Coast based Sid Kali (writer/director/producer) and East Coast based Tim Beachum (producer/editor)."
- Sadly, the true events as detailed in the movie honestly are not that intense, interesting, or exciting. It all plays out like a "typical" drug movie with a guy looking for redemption but not finding an easy way out. The story has been told before, filmed before, and portrayed better. Consignment offers nothing new, fresh, or original to entice you in. It is intensely stale.

So, what is there?

"Authentic Language straight from the streets that simply rings out with truth."
- That is true, though "authentic language" sounds like a cliché in and of itself.

"A body count of 14 on screen murders."
- Actually, most of the people aren't killed onscreen. They are usually shot (as in with a gun) and we cutaway to somebody else in the scene. True, fourteen people die (though I didn't count), but I only recall one (Vinny Peeps) whom I saw shot (and had some blood fly). Oh, wait, the first guy that was killed did get shot two times onscreen after he was already dead.

"Consignment has the longest and most exotic strip scene of any independent feature."
- I will agree it is the longest, but I don't think it was the most exotic. It took too long to get going, but once the top came off and she did the splits, it was entertaining.

"A love story with a real ending (you don't see that much anymore nowadays)."
- I find this point amusing as I never felt Consignment put much emphasis on the love part of the story. It was there, not especially developed, but it was semi-pivotal to the plot. As I mention later, the ending isn't all that grand.

The Acting:
One word kept coming to mind as I watched Consignment: amateurish. I wasn't able to buy into the movie because the acting, across-the-board, was weak. The talent collected for the parts lacked the skill to truly embody the roles, making the viewer believe that this wasn't just a movie. Some people did better than others, but the overall quality in this department leaves much to be desired.

So, why is the acting so bad? Is it just the actors aren't very good, or are there other motivating factors behind this problem?

"Some scenes were re-written on set before they were shot."
- That's a problem. Not having a walkthrough, time to rehearse, or even a day to wrap yourself around the lines doesn't bode well for such last minute rewrites. Only the best can get away with that, and we don't have the best here.

"4 actresses were replaced for the role of Yolanda. The last on her first major day of shooting. [sic] Stream Gardner stepped in to replace her that day."
- Stream is definitely one of the weaker actors in the film. Her portrayal of Yoli is more recitation of lines than acting.

The Production:
I thoroughly felt like I was watching a movie. At no time was I able to lose myself in the moment and let go of the fact that I was watching a movie. If it wasn't the story or the acting, the actual composition and production of the film was so uneven and jarring that it constantly and consistently took me out of the moment. Why?

"With a limited budget and no outside funding, the filmmakers worked with what they had, looked past what they didn't, and made it happen with a dedicated cast and crew grinding out long hours to see it all come together."
- You can't hide a bad budget. Somehow it's going to come across to the audience, and it does in Consignment. Because of the shallow budget, Sid Kali tried a few shortcuts to expedite matters:

"Storyboards were not used, breaking a major rule of filmmaking."
- Sid, you're not quite at the caliber where you can skip these. You hurt the film by dodging this all-important facet of production.

What truly nagged and annoyed me throughout Consignment is the result of the following two items:

"Consignment consists of 110 scenes that were shot in 11 days."
"On one hectic day of shooting we got through 37 set-ups."

The massive problem with Consignment is the lack of any flow to the narrative. The story is lost in the sea of 110 scenes. Consignment does not feel like an unfolding drama; instead, it feels like a series of related vignettes spliced together to form the thinnest of ideas. One scene did not seem related to the next. One scene did not flow naturally from one to the other. It was poorly edited, scene after scene, connected together. Technically, every scene does have a beginning, middle, and end. However, each scene is so self-contained that you can feel every beginning, every middle, and every end. It shouldn't feel like a stream of scenes. Every scene shouldn't feel completely staged and end with a lingering shot or a pull away. We shouldn't realize we're switching from scene to scene. We just shouldn't notice.

But I did notice every scene, and it caused me to take note of the myriad other problems with the production. Many shots had bad framing, bad lighting, or bad cinematography. Again, as with the acting, I felt the production had an amateurish feel. What's with the unnecessary zooms on people? Did you not have a camera stand for all shots? And I really shouldn't be able to hear the cameraman walking on gravel as he moves forward for a close-up on a character. (Yes, that one's incredible nitpicky; but it helps point out how one problem caused my heightened awareness to other flaws that normally would not have stood out.)

Let me toss out four final, minor points before moving on to the DVD itself. First, I love looking at a hot woman, but there are too many booty shots in the movie. They're there just to be gratuitous, and one or two would have been sufficient for that cause. Second, the sound effect for the cell phone rings was too loud. It was consistently jarring and startling. Third, the slow motion effect used at the end when Carmelo is in meltdown mode and drinking is unnecessary. It's so unlike the rest of the film that it stands out, not adding to the moment but again distracting the viewer. Perhaps if it didn't last so long it wouldn't have been so bad. Lastly, and this is probably more than a minor point, but what is the point of Consignment? We watch Tommy do his thing, but what happens? Why did we just invest an hour and a half with this character? I guess it's just supposed to remind us that this movie, inspired by true events, is a slice of reality and things don't always work out as planned.

"Killer story, picture and sound quality through out."

The hits just keep on coming as we move on to the technical discussion of the DVD. There are problems with both the video and audio transfers on this disc. The better of the two is the video, which appears to be a 1.85:1 non-anamorphic print (based on my personal deduction and no readily available technical specs). I'm not happy to see the movie has not been given the anamorphic treatment, but since it's a self-financed independent movie, I won't take too much offense. On the whole, the video looks pretty good with just an occasional problem. Colors are accurate and realistic, blacks are fairly rich and precise, and detail, contrast, and sharpness are good. The problems that did crop up are some graininess during night scenes, a few moiré patterns, and two instances where the video locked up—at the one hour mark and almost at the very end of the film. Also, the opening scroll is almost unreadable, with the text experiencing some type of artifacting or distortion as it moves. Faring much worse is the simple PCM stereo track. This track is wildly inconsistent, with the audio fluctuating throughout the feature. I was constantly turning the volume up and down, trying to keep up with the sound. At times, I couldn't hear or understand what was going on; the next, it was blaring at me. On top of that, some dubbing work was needed to even things out, make things more intelligible, and to get rid of all the annoying background sounds (dogs, planes, crickets, and so forth). Sadly, there are no subtitles included.

The DVD comes with only one bonus item, three deleted scenes. These are actually more of a blooper/deleted scene combo, and the only one of note is the third scene, which I presume is this: "Some scenes got so hot they had to be cut to make the movie suitable for retail and rental outlets. Those scenes will only be found on 'Consignment-Hardcore Street Edition'." This third scene is called "The Threesome" and you can figure it out for yourself, though it's not "that hot." It's less suggestive than the oral service scene from the film.

The Rebuttal Witnesses

I come back to the "Promote Your Release" program that started all this, and I still wish I wasn't so negative on the film. Maybe it's because I'm not necessarily the specific target audience, but films require a few universal qualities to appeal to an audience. As such, with a weak story, wanting acting, and numerous technical difficulties, it's hard to find the diamond in the rough with Consignment. Hence, I'm truly at a loss for positive things to say about the film. The best I can say is, Sid, you've finished two films and you're working on you're third. Keep your drive and ambition alive and work on honing your behind-the-scenes skills. Consignment could have been a much better, stronger film with some finesse during postproduction.

Closing Statement

"We don't want you spending your money on our movies if they don't deliver on the goods. We want to put out movies you can watch over and over again. We don't want anyone to ever feel cheated or bored after watching one of our movies. We think you'll be satisfied enough to pass the word along to your friends that Slice Of Americana Films drops ultra-hot movies.

The goal of Slice of Americana Films is to create movies for movie lovers by movie lovers."

With that being said, I was bored, did not enjoy the film, and will never watch it again. Based on everything I've said, I cannot recommend this disc for purchase (which is only available at the official site). I'm sure there's a niche out there for this film, but I don't believe the average Verdict reader is among them.

The Verdict

Consignment is hereby found guilty of a whole bunch of stuff.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 65
Extras: 5
Acting: 69
Story: 75
Judgment: 67

Perp Profile

Studio: Slice of Americana Films
Video Formats:
• 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• PCM 2.0 Stereo (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Genres:
• Crime
• Independent

Distinguishing Marks

• Deleted Scenes

Accomplices

• None








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