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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

'The Last Treasure Hunt' Theatrical Release: Nice Dances With Films Variation on 'Goodwin Games' and 'Wings'


These musings on the awesome soon-to-released dramedy film "The Last Treasure Hunt," which premiered at the late May 2015 Dances With Films film festival is the second in a series of two posts on indie flicks from that great festival from the equally special "Dances" collaborative. An earlier review on the the Woody Allenesque "In Stereo" includes a primer on the purpose and activities of "Dances."

"Treasure" director Patrick Biesmans expertly expresses the "Dances" philosophy in stating that "filmmaking is a complete act of will. Not just yours, as the director, but the will of a team of people that is dedicated and invested in the story you're trying to tell."

Both "Stereo" and "Treasure" will hit a art house theater near you this summer; their attributes include offering a good alternative to the plethora of sequels and remakes at larger venues.

The theme of "Treasure" wonderfully evokes thoughts of the not-spectacular but unfairly maligned Summer 2013 Fox failedcom "The Goodwin Games." Both productions center around estranged adult siblings whose inheritance from their recently deceased father is contingent on successfully completing an elaborate scavenger hunt. The objective to have parental influence from beyond the grave relates to a desire for the children to reconcile their differences.

This theme also is prevalent in the pilot (no pun intended) and series finale of the '90s "Must See TV" sitcom "Wings." A similar scheme by the deceased father of rigid and level-headed Joe Hackett and his more free-spirited brother Brian brings the latter back home and plays a role in the wrap up of this long-running series.

In all three cases, the older sibling is the seemingly more stable and successful one and the younger one is the one still trying to find his or her proper place in the world. This relates to a joke in the CBS Monday night failedcom "The Popcorn Kid" in which one of the teens working in the old-style movie theater around which the action revolves observes that children are like cars in that the "owner" lavishes attention on the first one to come along and does not care about all those that follow.

Personal related experiences regularly referring to my London-dwelling older sister as the Wicked Witch of the West End and my elderly father expressing a desire that this "wicked" individual and I reconcile before he passes away prompts hope that none of the productions mentioned above inspire him.

The sniping siblings in "Treasure" are bookstore owner/soon-to-be first-time father Oliver Sinclair and his five-year track college student sister Lucy. Their joint venture is the same type of quest on which their father, who is just as eccentric as the heads of the Goodwin and Hackett clans, used to send them. This time, the objectives include prompting both introspection and evoking fond childhood memories.

The reality is that the forced physical and emotional proximity that Oliver and Lucy experience reopens old wounds of the latter variety. These include conflicting views regarding their mother.

Additionally, all but the most compatible siblings will relate (no pun intended) to the illogical new resentments regarding things such one sibling solving a clue solo prompting anger by the other.

Notable moments include Oliver expertly making an insightful speech about the nature of writing a book and the comic relief that Sinclair cousin Alfred, who has never left the childhood island home of the family, provides. A particularly awesome aspect of the latter is that it results in "Treasure" having a Cousin Oliver, who shows signs of being a jinx.

The final clue regarding "Treasure" is that it is thought-provoking and highly realistic. The message comes through without bludgeoning you on the head or whispering a cryptic phrase in your ear.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Treasure" is encouraged to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.

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