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|Short films í06|
|Small flashes of genius...|
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CHICKEN SOUP |
OUR MAN IN NIRVANA |
LIGHTEN UP | HEAVY METAL DRUMMER | VGL-HUNG | LE WEEKEND
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last update 1.Apr.07
See also: DESTRICTED | EROS | SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
|R E V I E W S B Y R I C H C L I N E|
|shorts from the BFI's 50th London Film Festival in Oct-Nov 2006...|
Heavy Metal Drummer |
This very funny short centres on a young Moroccan (Jari) who's obsessed with heavy metal music, much to the horror of everyone in his Muslim community. Not only does his passion get him in trouble at school (such as when he reads out song lyrics in class), but he feels under-appreciated in the little band he's formed with two friends. They're content to play sappy wedding music, but he wants to go in a "heavier direction" and cut lose like Animal the Muppet. Maybe he'll just give it a go. Shot like a doc, the film is warm and engaging, and hilariously astute.
dir-scr Luke Morris, Toby MacDonald|
with Yassine Jari
Lighten Up |
Hysterically ridiculous, this comedy centres on a frazzled, angry man named Bo (Zickel) who offers to drive his friend (Viener) to the emergency room. After ranting about everything on his mind, he asks his friend what's wrong, and discovers something he'd rather not know: that his friend has a light bulb stuck where the sun don't shine. The following conversation is outrageously funny, as Bo can't resist teasing his friend, and then listening to some unexpected advice. Along the way, they touch on some amusingly rude themes ("Are you gay?" "No, but your moustache seems a little gay.") and even compare the situation to Angela's Ashes. It's extremely well filmed and acted and, quite frankly, unforgettably hilarious.
dir-scr John Viener|
with Mather Zickel, John Viener
Rabbit Stories |
Sad, haunting and ultimately creepy, this experimental short gets inside the head of a man (Walker) who has schizophrenia, constantly shifting perspective as he tries to express himself in a world that doesn't want to listen. We get interviews with his mother (Paul), father (Reader) and doctor (Rudd), and we even dip into his vivid fantasy world, which stars a naked woman (Harris) involved in various slightly wacky activities. Eventually, it becomes clear that he does not want to be institutionalised--he longs to "straighten up" so he can get a job in a factory like everyone else. The jumbled editing and unsettling visuals are both intense and emotional.
dir-scr Sean Conway|
with Graeme Walker, Kathy Paul, Keith Reader, Michael Rudd, Monica Harris
Our Man in Nirvana |
With a dazzling display of both imagination and technical skill, Koester takes us on a deliriously wondrous animated odyssey in just 10 minutes. The opening is shot as if through parchment lit by candles, as a musician drives to a gig and is electrocuted in a freak accident. He wakes up in the vivid watercolour rainbow of Nirvana, where wacky monsters abound, gravity keeps switching sides and he has to prove in a courtroom that he has the right to remain there. The animation is simply staggering--with layers of colour and imagery that's constantly surprising as it plays with light, colour, fire, ice and water. And the story's engaging as well--magical and astonishing right up to the superb final gag.
dir-scr Jan Koester|
Moody and increasingly, effectively intense, this short thriller gets deeply disturbing as it progresses, then ends in what feels like a major cop out. Ben (Caras) is a loner in high school who becomes fascinated by a new kid, Grant (Cumming), who's always in trouble. Eventually they start talking, and Grant invites him to his house with his friends, to see these strange bugs he has discovered. For Ben, this feels like the seduction he's always longed for. But as they drive further and further into the countryside, he starts to worry. Writer-director Smith brilliantly catches the interplay between a handful of high school students (and one teacher), with the tentative liaisons, misplaced desire, awkward loyalties. The film feels bracingly real, superb performances and terrific photography. And the story really makes us squirm as it progresses--funny, sexy, terrifying. So it's a shame that the closing moments feel like the filmmaker just ran out of money or ideas. Or nerve.
dir-scr Carter Smith|
with Josh Barclay Caras, Donald Eric Cumming
Chicken Soup |
In an airport departure lounge bar, people try desperately to avoid contact with each other--including the barmaid, who asks a customer (Arditti) to help her deal with a blind Arabic man (Sawalha). This short is very well-produced, with strong photography, a superb score and excellent performances. It also cleverly grapples with the way people try to maintain their distance, even in a crowded place where there's really no threat at all. And most telling are the assumptions people make about each other, without knowing anything, really. It's a little stilted, and the brief flashback isn't perhaps necessary (it feels distracting), but it's simple, intriguing and thoughtfully provocative.
dir Farah Abushwesha|
with Philip Arditti, Nadim Sawalha, Shauna Macdonald, Paul Callahan, Owen O'Neill, Yildiz Hussein, David King, Rosie Alvarez
|R E V I E W S B Y R I C H C L I N E|
|shorts from the BFI's 21st London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival in Mar-Apr 2007...|
Recycling every gay scene clichÈ known to man, this comedy short is extremely well-produced (by porn production company Eurocreme) and has a very good cast. So it's a pity there isn't more originality in the script. But then, what do you expect from a porn production company? The plot centres on Terry (Proctor), a normal-looking guy who doesn't really live up to the ideal physique of over-waxed muscle man. After an unsuccessful night at a club, he goes online to find company, and stumbles into a digital fairy godmother, who grants him three wishes: to become the man he pretends to be on his profile. The muscly Terry (Jake Ryder) meets a shallow, self-absorbed hunk; the skinhead Terry (Ashley Ryder) meets a couple that's not really into threesomes; and the Very Good-Looking Terry (Vettori) meets the man of his dreams. For a film that uses every stereotype imaginable, the moralizing feels extremely hollow, stressing that it's better to be nice on the inside, while still luxuriating in physical "perfection". It's a naÔve, overworked approach to the theme. But as a bit of stupid fluff, it's engaging enough. And Proctor is quite good in a literally thankless role.
dir Max Barber|
scr Max Barber, Hugo Eyre Varnier
with Markus Proctor, Jake Ryder, Ashley Ryder, Richard Vettori, Jeff Chandler, Kimmy Eyre-Varnier, Anthony Martinez, Elixir, Carlo Cox, Jensen Lomax, Leonardo, Edward Dogliani
Le Weekend |
Inventive and extremely clever, this subtle short poses as a young French filmmaker's documentary of his short trip to London. The penniless 22-year-old filmmaker Seb (played by Omar, with voiceover by Rassi) embarks on a tour of the city, stopping at all the landmarks and making pointed comments (he doesn't go into St Pauls, because "they charge you to go into churches in this country--unbelievable!"). He can't afford a hotel, so he prowls the streets and is noticed by Rafael (Peres), a gay man who takes Seb to a nightclub and then back home. Seb doesn't have the heart to tell Rafael that he's not gay and, besides, he needs place to sleep. After shooting silently on Super 8 film, Smith underlays an effective soundtrack of narration and music, which combines perfectly with the lively visuals and smiley faces. Along the way, Seb spots scenes that remind him of classic films by Hitchcock, Kurosawa and Fellini, capturing London with an intriguing eye that also manages to cleverly include every conceivable iconic monument. And the story has a sweetly offbeat tone that's surprisingly engaging, with an unexpected emotional turn and a nifty little sting in the tail.
dir Timothy Smith|
scr Timothy Smith, Nyah Farier
with Omar, Fernando Peres, Val Rassi, Lawrence Woo
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows
on the Wall