The Music, a short film review

The Music is the sixth film by award-winning New England director/producer/writer Mark Battle of Sweven Films – sequel to his second, The Janitor. Despite six years separating the two films, the cadence and tone have remained the same. However, something phenomenal has happened — Mark has accomplished what many filmmakers fail to pull off — the sequel transcends the first!

The Janitor (2013), winner of Best in Fest at the 2013 SNOB Film Festival, introduced us to Dominic, a cleaner for hitmen. Dominic is a quiet man, private and living modestly. In The Janitor, Dominic is faced with cleaning up a botched hit. In The Music, Dominic is still cleaning hits but he’s tired. He wants out.

Dominic is played by Michael Anthony Coppola. Michael, a handsome, broad-shoulder Gregory Peck-looking actor with a tousle of gray in his wavy dark hair, plays Dominic to perfection. He does not have many lines of dialogue – 20 lines – which he speaks in a low-pitched, slightly accented voice, sometimes in Czech. But what Michael doesn’t say, he expresses with movements of his eyes, hesitations, and facial expressions. Michael skillfully conveys Dominic’s story on his face. It’s an execution guaranteed to win awards.

The film is aptly titled. The music is not simply melody accompanying the story, rather it’s like a rudder on a boat changing the course of characters actions. When Dominic listens to music, he sails smoothly, methodically through the process of clean-up, but when the music abruptly stops, reality of his actions floods his consciousness. He heaves from the foulness of it all. When the character, Miklos, Dominic’s handler listens to music, his conduct is altered, outcomes are affected.

The Music is filmed in black and white, and as with every Mark Battle composition of genius, it is a work of art. The clarity and depth of each scene is stunning, like an Ansel Adams photo – pure and focused. The beauty of the visual backdrop against the anguished story plays in perfect harmony. And, Mark’s clever lack of color for literal interpretation – Dominic lives in a clearly defined black and white construct, despite his profession, burden, and legitimacy being muddled – is absolute brilliance!

The Janitor being my favorite among the Sweven Film oeuvre; it’s what began my admiration of Mark’s writing and cinematography. When I read that he was working on a sequel, I was ecstatic. It took a few years for the symphony to find its tempo, but it was well worth the wait! The Music now tops my list. Standalone, or as a sequel, it will be the short film that I guarantee audiences and film festival judges will be talking about this year.

Want to see The Music? Watch it in November in Concord, NH at the 18th Annual SNOB Film Festival! Dates & times TBA —

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