Published on February 25th, 2008 | by Erich Becker0
What can be said about the independent short, Bookie? Quite a bit, though some of it isn’t necessarily too kind. When one watches a short film, usually a little leeway is due to the cast and crew because the breadth and depth of a feature film has to be captured in a relatively small time frame, and usually on a shorter budget. Unfortunately in this case, that task seemed to be at least a bit of a challenge.
The story, a period piece, centers on Bookie (Ken Quitugua) who, as the bookie for Mr. Jackson (Lester Purry) is tasked with collecting up all the bets for the big championship bout between the reigning king and the long-shot challenger. In the end, while trying to help secure the freedom of down on her luck waitress, and sometime plaything of Mr. Jackson, Billie (Angela Adto), Bookie makes a tragic misstep that lands him in the doghouse with his employer, and almost in the morgue at the hands of heavies “Shorty” and “Roughneck” (played by Sam Looc and Aaron Toney respectively). Finding the strength to fight the attackers, he defends himself and gets the girl, albeit a little worse for wear.
To take it point by point, the fatal flaw of the film was the script. It seemed to lack any depth or substance in the writing itself, seeming to resign itself to the fact that it was a short film and needed to fit in as many platitudes and stereotypes for characters as possible. This didn’t give the actors themselves a lot to work with, and some of them tried very hard to deliver (such as the Rogers, who wins it big on the fight, played very competently by J.T. Jackson of “Bacardi and Cola” fame). The leads, Ken and Angela, were able to play what they were given, which wasn’t much, but never really break out and do anything for the audience. Lester Purry, who plays Mr. Jackson, has his moments, and you definitely see his extensive theatre work/training come through in his performance, and it does pay off.
It is on its technical merits that this film comes back from the brink with a beautiful blend of music and cinematography. The smoky jazz tunes coupled with black and white filming and wonderful scene transitions make it at the very least a beautiful thing to judge simply on aesthetics.
All that said, an Oscar worthy masterpiece it may not be, but as a short film to showcase some potential talent, or to show musical and camera skill, this film has pieces that you can definitely appreciate and enjoy.