Smallman: A Film Review

I stumbled across Smallman: The World My Father Made while doing research for another post. I pressed play because it was a short film about my friend’s father. I know Richard Mark Rawlins as an artist. He’s also a great illustrator, and I am a big fan of his work.

As an aside, whenever he re-releases his meggie t-shirt, get it. Or keep an eye out for collaborations, they’ve been Mark Eastman by Richard Meggie bowties, and I think handbags, but I digress.

Smallman is a documentary film about Richard’s father John Ambrose Kenwyn Rawlins, also known as JK Rawlins. It probably helps to know that Richard is an artist when you start watching the film, but not significantly so.

This is a beautifully made 10 minute or so documentary, that profiles a key moment in JK’s life and the lasting impact it had on him. It also details his most usual talent as the maker of miniatures.

It’s a biography, and a love story. Richard’s wife Mariel is the film maker, but she lets the relationship between Richard and his father take centre stage. Richard is shown handling his father’s work, photographs and letters throughout. I remember thinking, how lucky they were to have so much of his stuff. When Richard talks about his father, he calls him ‘daddy’. It is one of the many authentic elements in this heavily stylised film.

Chantel Esdelle’s score is wonderfully old, and Englishy, in a way that’s it true to the person being profiled, and the time in which much of the action discussed takes place.

I give this a 4 out of 5 stars, and will watch this again.

I watched Smallman: The World My Father Made on, click here to watch it yourself

Affair in Trinidad – A Film Review

Affair in Trinidad was the 1952 comeback vehicle for the Hollywood sex symbol and actress Rita Hayworth. She had spent 4 years away from the big screen because of her marriage to Prince Ali Khan. But when that marriage ended Hayworth needed to make her return in a big way.
Affair in Trinidad is a film noir that reunites Hayworth with most of the principals from her last big hit the movie Gilda, including her leading man Glenn Forde. It is a desperate move and it shows.
The plot is paper thin. Hayworth is Chris Emery, a nightclub performer whose husband is found dead. It soon becomes clear that he was murdered. The police have a suspect, the millionaire Max Fabian, and Chris is drafted to help them find the proof. Unbeknownst to her, her late husband had invited his brother to the island with the promise of a job. Steve Emery (Glenn Forde) arrives in Trinidad to find his brother dead under suspicious circumstances and begins his own investigation of the matter.
The acting is dated, and very stylised. The opening scene features a most casual conversation over Neil’s body.
And while the movie was filmed in Trinidad, you see very little of the island. It very well could have been set anywhere.
The racial politics of the time feature throughout. People of colour are part of the scenery, they are incidental to action, except for Dominique. Played by Juanita Moore, Dominique is Chris’ housekeeper, and while she is clearly what Spike Lee would refer to as the movie’s ‘magical negro’, she gets quite a few of some of the movie’s most memorable lines. And that brings us to this film’s saving grace, it is an extremely quotable movie. A friend described it as throwing more shade than the Northern Range.
It is also a very feminist movie. Chris is the goddess all men want to worship, but she is very ready to put them in their place when they get out of hand. In that she is matched by Dominique who had to set Steve right when he loses his manners around his brother’s widow. Chris is also sexual without apology. The other unapologetically sexual woman in the film is Valerie Bettis’ Veronica Huebling, a film vixen if there ever was one.
Affair in Trinidad is deeply flawed film that still manages to be very entertaining. It is tremendously quotable and it is one that will have you talking long after the credits have ended.
It gets it 3 stars out of 5.