Hash the first films, these small exploits. These small works on which we spend a lot of time, that one is always proud to see once it’s completed. These small pieces of ourselves that we offer to see at the time of their initial projections, these times are particularly stressful because one never really knows how the public, the barometer without pity, will react. The third edition of the Champs-Elysées Film Festival has allowed the emergence, or at least the introduction, of new faces in the sphere cinéphilique. R. Malcolm Jones is one of his heads. Supported by Sophie Dulac, the founder and chairman of the nrc and of the cffs (nothing of it), it is with much trepidation that he presented his first feature film, THE MAGIC CITY. With great difficulty, he tells the daily life of three girls living in a sensitive area of Miami, Liberty City.
If I put first before the negative sides of the film, it is primarily because, with the end of the projection coming, it is a lot of what we retain. Unfortunately. If one understands quickly what the young filmmaker seeks to show us, it is tempting to want to quickly escape, expecting to see only a sequence of shots. Clichés with which the film abounds. Based in a poor neighborhood and the majority of whose residents are african-american, THE MAGIC CITY shows us the poverty, the misery, the loneliness, as they have already been portrayed many times before. Whether in movies, in series and / or in the clips of rap. Children who become parents too young. Fathers who disappear early, or how it completely ignores the identity. Children left to themselves, who fail in the street, in the drug or in prison. Of men more or less violent, of course, will never rub the friendly grocer who knows everything about everyone and brings a relative peace. In short, nothing original under the sun, crushing of Miami.
If the scenario is quite flawed, we can still note the desire to do something different, to bring a little something to the building. Thanks to flashbackes mysterious and intriguing, R. Malcolm Jones manages to give us the desire to see how it all ends. Who is going to die? That will end up in prison? Who is going out? So many questions that find answers at the end of the film, what we do can appreciate. Level of staging, the director has embarked on adventures perilous : the plans are often uncertain, poorly cut, contradictory. The finishing often not give an impression of a small jumble, happy mess. A brothel accentuated by a photograph marked by the use of different filters that alter the plans, their content and their meaning. But we will put this on the account of the past of clippeur of the director. For the little info, R. Malcolm Jones has directed music videos for Flo Rida, Avril Lavigne or Chris Brown. This explains it, it adapts as you can from this photo either too bright or too dark.
“Only one thing is certain : the second film, R. Malcolm Jones – if he made one – will hardly be more wrong.”
If the music has absolutely nothing interesting, exciting or even relevant, it is saved, if I may say, by a cast quite convincing. If any of the young actresses don’t deserve reward for his performance, they are still big efforts to be credible. This is not a simple thing, with a storyline as heavy and anxiety-inducing than THE MAGIC CITY. Between boredom and sluggishness, you’ll from time to time by falling on the nuggets. Like this scene where Tiana (Latrice Jackson), Nia (Lashalle Jackson) and Amiya (Amiya Thomas) enclose Brittany (Coi Collins) in a closet and promise to make him live a thousand tortures if she does not obey. If the scene could prove to be hard, it is mostly very absurd, as it’s hard to believe that these girls, which is admittedly a little bizarre, could do harm to one of them. Even if it is the most “normal” of the band ! It is thanks to a few scenes of this type that we realize that, despite all these errors, these small defects, the first film of R. Malcolm Jones is not the horror that’s expected and dreaded. And it is already not bad !
A relative length (1.55pm), THE MAGIC CITY is a film that is often hard to follow, in which we enter with difficulty and which one wants to regularly go out. If its cast, just like his subject, does not transcend, we can only note the desire of the developer to innovate a little. Even if it doesn’t work as one would have wished, it does not lower the arm. Only one thing is certain : the second film, R. Malcolm Jones – if he made one – will hardly be more wrong.
The champs-Elysées Film Festival 2014• Original title : The Magic City
• Realization : R. Malcolm Jones
• Scenario : R. Malcolm Jones
• Main actors : Latrice Jackson, Lashalle Jackson, Amiya Thomas, Coi Collins
• Country of origin : United States
• Output : coming SOON
• Duration : 1h55mn
• Distributor : Circus Road Films
• Synopsis : We follow the fate of three young girls in a sensitive area of Miami, Liberty City. One summer, Amiya, a teenager reserved a wealthy area, went to live with his aunt after being abandoned by her mother. She spends a lot of time with its neighbouring Tiana and Nia, despite the reluctance of his cousin. One day, a tragic event will force Tiana and Nia to leave the neighbourhood and cèlera forever the friendship between these three girls.