Spoiler Alert. This review contains what may be construed as “spoilers. ” Read with this foreknowledge.
I enjoy watching artists, following their development as they hone their skills and develop their abilities. If I wasn’t present when they released their first work, I like back engineering their development until I arrive at their first work. Normally, it’s in their first works that you can detect germs of potential.
In the case of director/actor Harley Wallen I can say that I have been present to see most of what he has created as he has released it. For me this has been enlightening and exciting, as each new release of Wallen’s shows that much more development and promise. Based on what I have seen, I am convinced that Wallen is someone who is going to go far in the film industry; he has done much in his life already to esblish himself in both the MMA and the entertainment industry in general.
Most recently I was invited to attend the release of Wallen’s third feature, ‘Moving Parts.” I like this movie and feel it is Wallen’s strongest to date. Also it is a good measure of how far the cast how come in their individual development professionally. If a director is responsible for actors developing, the development that I have seen with this group is to Wallen’s credit. Each has grown professionally evident in each new cinematic release in which they appear, and as many of the same faces have appeared in Wallen’s films, it plain that they are becoming a closely knit family. .
Written and directed by Wallen, with writing contributions from Jerry Hayes, Kaiti Parker-Wallen, and Nancy Oswein co-directed by Jerry Hayes, “Moving Parts” stars TJ Storm (as Jim Kalani), Michael Alexander (as Sasha Baron) and Harley Wallen (as Seth Nichols). With Dennis Marin (in Marin’s first leading role as Adam Johnson), Jessika Johnson (as Lisa Shields) Kaiti Parker -Wallen (as Angela Prescott) and Kris Reilly (as Kevin Prescott), Mike Lepera (as Lt. Chris Rourke) Jennifer Jelsema (as Detective Miranda Brooks) and Callie Koenig (as Jade Kalani) this release is a real tour de force.
“Moving Parts” is a tight crime drama that is as complicated as any maze. As each character is introduced and as you follow the developing story line you realize that you are being lead down a path which jags suddenly and leaves you questioning what you have just experienced. As you try to understand what is going on, it becomes obvious that things are not what they seem. You have to pay attention. This story demands it, or else you can easily become lost. Once lost, you cannot catch up.
From the opening scene, as boozehound, Lothario Adam Johnson cruises the city streets, prowling for an accomplice who will provide him adult company and accommodate his wiles, you are being set up. Lisa Shields is his willing companion (for a price.) Remember, things are not what they appear. When you are present in a counselor’s office and Kevin Prescott complains that Angela Prescott is not interested in sex, there may be a reason for this, which if you don’t become completely lost, will be revealed toward the end. Yes, Wallen ratchets up the adult theme in this film, stopping short of what can be construed a NSFW designation. This is something that can be seen as adding to the storyline, more than simply doing it for gratuitous titillation
Private detective Seth Nichols (Harley Wallen) is approached by Angela Prescott (Kaiti Wallen), who gives him money because she suspects her husband, Kevin Prescott (Kris Reily) as having an affair. Keep in mind the sum of money Angela pays Nichols to secure his services, with the balance promised upon completion of this job. This is just part of the money that Kevin has at home in a safe in terms of cash, jewelry and redeemable bonds, another element that you should watch closely. Nichols tails Prescott, but discovers that he is not involved with another woman as Angela suspects This money which Kevin Prescott has stashed in his home safe is but part of money owed crime lord Sasha Baron (Michael Alexander), someone else on whom you should keep an eye. Kevin is in deep to the mob. Lt. Chris Rourke is a dirty cop. Implicated for three different deaths, his partner, Detective Miranda Brooks defends him convinced that he is innocent of charges. Or is he? Together Rourke and Brooks are following a trail, hoping to implicate Sasha Barron.
Although all deliver outstanding performances in this indie thriller, there were two actors who, for me, were particularly noteworthy. The first was Dennis Marin. Although Marin has been an actor all of his life, his role as Adam Johnson was his first lead role in a feature film. It’s not easy to pull off a good drunk, but to have to be assured that he was not high at any time while on the set speaks to how convincing he was as an actor. He even has a glazed high look in his eyes through most of this part. The second noteworthy actor in this production is young Calhoun Koenig. As Jade Kalani, the daughter of widowed father Jim Kalani (JT Storm), war buddy of Seth Nichols, we are introduced to her as she is being taught how to handle a sword. To be given a lead which she handles masterfully at her tender age of 14 speaks to what she may yet demonstrate providing she sticks with acting. She could not be surrounded by a finer group of people, both actors and crew. Lucky girl. They are certain to continue to offer her continued support, and guidance as she develops as an artist. Keep an eye on her.
Kudos should also be given to Daniel Duane, director of photography, and Michael Kettenbeil, editor and Victor Pytko, timeline editor. This feature was cinematically well shot for a indie production and fluid in its continuity. Also, mention should be given for Kaizad Patel for an original scoring.
As Wallen’s third production Moving Parts is a winner and promises a bright future if we are to follow a trajectory of his development as a director. It is not an easy undertaking pulling together an indie production of this size, with cast and crew and to do it with this kind of aplomb, speaks volumes for me as to what we can expect Wallen to deliver in the coming years.