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9.6.14

A Public Ransom (2014)




Directed by Pablo D'Stair
Starring Carlyle Edwards, Helen Bonaparte, Goodloe Byron
https://apublicransom.wordpress.com/

Steven, a hack writer of questionable integrity, stumbles upon a strange "missing" poster. Sensing there might be an exploitable story involved, he decides to call the number scrawled at the bottom of the crudely drawn poster. The call leads to a weird meeting with another writer named Bryant. Steven wants to know more about the missing kid; Bryant seems to want to know more about Steven. Before it's over, Bryant will get to know Steven VERY well, and Steven will become the unwitting collaborator in Bryant's newest tale.

Made with three actors, one camera, and no money, A PUBLIC RANSOM was a real surprise. The story at the heart of the film is a compelling one, and Pablo D'Stair does a solid job of allowing the mystery to slowly unfold. The movie is mostly told in static shots and one-sided phone conversations, but D'Stair manages to avoid monotony and maintains a good pace throughout. My only criticism involves the main character, Steven. Calling him a self-centered prick is an understatement; if he's not verbally abusing his wife, he's mooching off his lady-on-the-side (Helen Bonaparte). It's hard to care about him when things start getting heavy in the second act. On the other hand, it does make it a little more rewarding when Bryant's scheme starts to wreck Steven's life.

This microbudgeted indie feature was filmed in Gaithersberg, Maryland. It has a great soundtrack (including the Detroit Cobras, Bellflur, and Pedro Gonzalez-Fernandez) and features more cigarette smoking than any film in recent memory. It's a good example of what intelligent and talented people can do with minimal resources. Pablo D'Stair is someone worth keeping an eye on.

You can watch the movie for free online. Go to https://apublicransom.wordpress.com/ and enter the password "pransom."

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