It is honestly amazing what funding pages like Kickstarter and Indiegogo can do, to help short films or full feature films be made with the help of fans. I have helped different flim projects myself, such as Kung Fury, Samurai Cop 2: Deadly Vengeance or the fantastic documentary You´re So Cool Brewster - The Story Of Fright Night. The reality is that every film studio may not have the money to support film makers, so even how good an idea is it can be hard to make reality. This is why fund pages like Kickstarter and Indiegogo can make dreams come true. Of course not all projects are good, i have seen some films on trailers that have not felt interesting. But there are always a few films that stands out, that turn out to be interesting. One of the films i remember really enjoying, is a film called Blue Ruin. This film was launched as a Kickstarter campaign, and thanks to fans the film was able to be made. Blue Ruin is the story of Dwight Evans ( powerful portrayed by actor Macon Blair ) who is determined to revenge the murder of his parents, as he tracks down their killer Wade Cleland. But this is not what the whole film is about, and Blue Ruin becomes even more interesting as we get to follow the life of Dwight, as he tries to handle his personal problems. The budget of Blur Ruin was made on a 420.000 dollar budget, but the film looks really good. I think director Jeremy Saulnier proved that you can make a really emotional and strong drama, no matter how small the budget is. Every year both short films and full feature films find funding from movie fans, and this seems to continue to work very effective. One example of a Kickstarter campaign that managed to do well, is for a short film called Thunder Road. The short film told the story of an American police officer who dances at his mother funeral. The critics loved the short film, and the short film won several awards such as Short Film Grand Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and Jury Prize For Acting at the Palm Springs International ShortFest. Actor Jim Cunnings, who both directed the short film and played the lead role, decided to make a full feature film of the character known as Officer Jim. Since i read so many positive reviews, i was curious to see if Thunder Road would fit my taste. Is this a really well made independent film, or is this a film that you don´t need to waste your precious time on ?
Police Officer Jim Arnaud have just lost his dear mother, as he decides to do a Bruce Springsteen dance tribute to her at her funeral. He fails completely, and embarrass himself. But Jim tries to focus on helping his young daughter Crystal Arnaud ( Kendall Farr ). That does not go so well either, even if Jim believe he is a great father. When Jim work with his Police partner Officer Nate Lewis ( Nican Robinson ), Jim feels happy. He feels that Nate and him have a friendship. Jim´s ex-wife Rosaling Arnaud ( Jocelyn DeBoer ) is a drug addict, and demand full custody of Crystal. Jim does not agree with this, and go to court. Nothing is going as Jim have planned, and everything seems to be going against him. Will Jim finally find a way out of all the misery ?
I did not expect to see a comedy, that is both tragic and really funny this year. But this is exactly what Thunder Road manage to combine. The main character Officer Jim ( brilliant played by Jim Cunnings ) must be the most embarrassing cop i have ever seen. Just the opening scene, when he does a dance to a Bruce Springsteen song ( and he cant get the Hello Kitty CD player to work ) at a funeral is hilarious. Just the idea of him doing the most odd dance ever with a dead person in a coffin behind him, is of course the worst idea ever. Or...maybe exactly what we should do at a funeral, just let out all of our emotions ? There are more really funny scenes that will make you feel embarrassed about Officer Jim, how he manage to keep his job is amazing. Of course, things do not go well later on in the film. Even if Jim Cunnings gives the strongest acting performance in this film, i think there are some other performances worth mentioning. Child actor Kendal Farr does a wonderful performance as Jim´s daughter Crystal. You feel sorry for her, especially when her father does some embarrassing things at the school development meeting with her teacher. Jocelyn DeBoer as Crystal´s drug addicted mother Rosalind also does a good performance, and you can tell she have personal problems. While this film have some really funny moments, there are also some really sad scenes as well. It becomes very clear that Jim have no idea how to behave as an adult sometimes, and make some bad decisions. Of course, many adults can make bad choices in life, but Jim just does not seem to know how to behave at certain moments. It is like he just says what he thinks, but don´t understand this can make things even worse. I would like to mention that this film would probably categorize this film as a dark comedy, and i love that combination. Director Jim Cunnings ( who also have the lead role ), manage to balance comedy and drama on a very high quality level. He knows how to tell a story about a man who have a very complicated life, and does not seem to know how to be in control. I think he also manage to show us how hard it is being a parent, especially with a father who wants to do everything for his daughter. If you have been looking for something different to see, and still want to laugh and feel sadness, Thunder Road should be what you need to experience. Finally a film that dares to go into a different direction than most drama comedies. Make sure you see Thunder Road, and learn how parenting should be handled.