A Review of "The Closer Movie" By Award-Winning Journalist from South Florida

"The Closer Movie" World Premiere at Palm Beach International Film Festival - Film Review by Award-Winning Journalist from South Florida. Overall: 4.3 out of 5 Stars!

One would think that it would be easy for an Opinion Columnist to write a movie review…it’s not. Let me explain.

I was invited to attend the Premier of THE CLOSER by the writer/Director, Eli Hershko. I watched the film while sitting in the seat directly to his left. It was like taking a final exam while your teacher hovered over your shoulder; not that Mr. Hershko was doing so. Indeed, he let me enter my movie meditation state without interruption and I was able to devote my total attention to the screen. In fact, after the movie started I was barely aware of his presence.

I would like to preface this by pointing out that most films we see today follow a particular sequence: Introduce characters, shoot someone, bad drama, car chase, sex scene, more shooting, lots of stunts, foot chase followed by more shooting, and so on until the ending credits. All very predictable.

It was refreshing to see that the writers (Victor Baranes, Isaac Broyn and Eli Hershko) had neither the budget nor inclination to follow this sad formula; settling instead for an original, very well delivered story.

Now, let’s break this thing down:

THE PLOT: I think it’s fair to say that most of us see bankers and mortgage companies as predators run by men with very dark souls. This description was never as accurate as it was during the subprime lending fiasco. A time when lenders where offering mortgages to anyone willing to apply, regardless of their ability to pay, and then selling the paper to investors looking for a hefty profit. The way this works is somewhat involved, but is explained in the film via a short scene which sets out the motivations without boring us into a short nap. A nice bit of writing by my take.

We all know that during this time, bankers and investors were moving these worthless mortgages around like so much counterfeit money; and making a fortune by doing so. But this is not that story. No, this is the story of the bottom feeders. The people who bought homes, fixed them up a bit, and then sold them, often without concern for the law, to a buyer…any buyer.

THE CHARACTERS:

Steven (Robert Berlin) is a somewhat crude, self-centered, and greedy man who sees there’s money to be made and sets about making it. He is ruthless, scheming, and demanding; riding his team of buyers/sellers with harsh aggressiveness. Steven wears a black suit (dark suit- dark soul?) His only concerns are profit and self.

I think it’s fair to say that Steven’s only real love interest is…well...Steven. However, the very talented and lovely Jessica Park does a great job of playing his girlfriend, Kim.

Robert Berlin’s portrayal of Steven is a clean demonstration of tightrope walking. Berlin’s “Steven” is rudely confident and always alert; looking around like a street thug who’s afraid the cops are coming. Berlin never overplays his role; opting to explore the full dynamics of his character.  A thug who is sometimes bully;  sometimes almost cowardly. A very strong and note worthy performance by an equally noteworthy actor. It’s impossible to watch Robert Berlin perform without becoming a fan. You are sure to see a lot more of him.

Sean (Patrick Duke Conboy) is the closest thing your going to get to a good guy in this film. It appears that he saved Steven’s life during a firefight in Iraq. Although, to me, what occurred is not fully explained in the film. Be that as it may, Sean meets one of his fellow Vets, Jack (neatly played by Christopher Kloko) who introduces him to the disreputable world of subprime real estate. Sean is sometimes cool, often solemn, and fighting PTSD. Again, I am unsure if he is married or just romantically involved with his partner, Tiffany ( a wonderful 5 star performance by Danielle Leaf) who wears a wedding ring while he doesn’t. I must have missed the part which explains this. Sean is conflicted on many levels which adds intensity and suspense to the film. You’re never really sure when this time bomb will explode; or who his victim(s) will be.

Patrick Duke Conboy is an incredibly strong actor. He seized the role of Sean and played it like a fine violin. Every nuance of the character was in sync with all the other performances. Patrick was always on point and keyed in. He will certainly be a force to reckon with. If his agent is nearly as strong as he is, there are big things ahead for this star quality performer.

SCRIPT: As a writer I can almost point out the parts that went through a major rewrite. This can result in some points being softened, and some details crucial to the plot getting dropped. Yet, the script was very well constructed with aptly timed comic relief added at just the right moments. The dialogue was excellent. These people are rough, and the language reflects it. Rating: Script: 3.99 stars for not better explaining the relationship between Sean and his wife/girlfriend, and diluting the battle scene which defined Steven’s relationship to Sean.

MUSIC: Excellent 5 stars

OVERALL: Now the big question: Would I pay to watch this film? An unqualified yes. And I wouldn’t feel in the least bit cheated. A healthy 4.3 stars.

Now that you've read this, I would like for you to check the ratings on NETFLIX, or any other service that rates movies.  You will see that most of the movies have a 1 to 3 star rating.  3 stars  is considered pretty watchable by most viewers.  A 4 star rating is simple, it means good...very good, and well worth watching.  Keep that in mind when you read my reviews; I don't hand out 4 stars for average movies.  So, if I rate a movie 4 stars or above, jump on it.

Link to the full article by Jim Brantley: The Closer Movie Article

‘The Closer’ shows how global economic instability grew from very local greed

Our client, "The Closer" movie.

A comprehensive look and review on JNS.org.

When I saw the recent Academy Award-winning film “The Big Short,” I was struck by the sheer genius of the financiers who devised the schemes and packaged the loans for resale, but it left me with unanswered questions about how the properties these loans represented were moved. “The Big Short” was largely about paper transactions, big money, and wealthy investors, and it mildly touched on the way the actual end-users—the home buyers and brokers—played into this scheme.

For every packaged loan transaction, credit default swap, and synthetic collateralized debt obligation handled by the men in suits, there are actual people and properties being bet on. It begged the questions of how these properties were moved, who was on the ground in these risky neighborhoods, and just how were these transactions put together?

Three Israeli real estate brokers, developers, and property managers based in Brooklyn were in the heart of the real estate boom prior to the big bust of 2008. They were buying dilapidated properties, renovating them, and then reselling them—usually to people who could only obtain loans through the controversial government-backed programs that encouraged property ownership even for those who could not afford it.

What they saw were greedy mortgage brokers, shady developers, and likely inept or corrupted appraisers, and they witnessed firsthand the dealmaking on the ground to get these properties sold, which would then yield a risky mortgage to be packaged by the bankers depicted by “The Big Short.” It inspired them to write a screenplay and develop a story to share with the world—the 2015 movie “The Closer.”

From a chance meeting in 2010, while working in real estate to offset his passion for film, former Israel Defense Forces photographer Eli Hershko met developer Isaac Broyn and his partner Victor Barnes, a former master engineer in a fighting jet squadron in the Israeli Air Force. Being involved in the same markets of lower-income Brooklyn, they shared their stories of challenges stemming from the then-recent market collapse. In talking, they realized that there was a common interest in telling this story to the world. So they embarked on the ambitious project of developing a compelling story based on some very real experiences they witnessed, encountered, or learned about through industry peers.

Ultimately, “The Closer” evolved and is on the film festival circuit this year, launching in Buffalo, N.Y., and Palm Beach, Fla., then coming to Hawaii and New York City, to name a few host cities. It is a self-financed film shot over the course of 28 days, pulling favors all over Brooklyn, from the local police and property managers to bars and shops used as sets. 

The movie stars Robert Berlin as the military unit commander and a ruthless broker who only cares about making money to fund his lavish lifestyle, Christopher Kloko as his right-hand man, Patrick Duke Conboy as the initially unwitting loner trying to escape the nightmares of war when their buddy was killed by a sniper.

The film itself is a drama, with action, heated anger, a love story, and a tale of a friendship that begins in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, as a U.S. military unit, and extends to the tough streets of Brooklyn. It quickly establishes the characters and their associations, their friendships and post-war personalities, before getting into the fast-paced and sometimes shady underworld of the low-income real estate market.

“The Closer” explores the methods used to get loans approved for high-risk borrowers, and the way emotions are played to convince the prey that home ownership is good for them. It covers the violent turf and gang wars over neglected buildings in poor neighborhoods, the removal of squatters, and the corruption in the appraisal process. Basically, it shows the bottom rungs of the banking scandals that brought the market down. For every unprincipled finance vehicle created by the bankers, “The Closer” shows the voracious property and mortgage brokers sowing the seeds of catastrophe so that they can buy Rolex watches and Mercedes-Benz cars.

The films also contains a love story, including how money and greed affect families and loved ones. It also presents a test of the loyalties between a commander and his troops. There are Russian mobsters, street thugs, exotic dancers, car crashes, and shootouts, and it all comes together in a compelling action film surrounding the local Brooklyn streets, the atmosphere built by greed, and the corruption that literally rose from the ground up to the towers of Wall Street.

Eli Hershko, Isaac Broyn, and Victor Baranes just elevated themselves from unknown real estate entrepreneurs to the competitive world of Hollywood and the indie film market. They have built a solid little picture that will compel moviegoers and give us all some appreciation for how a major international economic scandal was born on small streets in our very neighborhoods, all around us.

Link to the article: The Closer Movie

Our Client: "The Closer Movie" on WPBF-ABC 25 Morning Show in Palm Beach

We're pleased to announce that our firm, Herald Strategies, has been working hard to promote "The Closer" movie, which is a film about the 2008 real estate market boom and bust, and the greed and malicious behaviors that led to the crash and the Great Recession. The film's director, Eli Hershko and executive producer, Isaac Broyn - and many of the main cast members - are currently in Palm Beach for the Palm Beach International Film Festival. The film will be premiering at the film festival on Saturday, April 9th at 1:55pm at the Cinemark Theater in Boca Raton. This is the world premiere and a very exciting time for "The Closer."

Through our efforts and connecting with the nice people at ABC affiliate, WPBF-ABC 25 news in Palm Beach, we were able to get director, Eli Hershko and executive producer, Isaac Broyn an opportunity to discuss the film and the world premiere with morning show host/anchor Stephanie Berzinski. See the link to their interview here: The Closer Movie on WPBF-ABC 25 in Palm Beach.

To learn more about the film or for press inquiries, please visit: TheCloserMovie.com and/or contact Warren H. Cohn at Warren@HeraldStrategies.com.