| || |
Native Immigration - Eric Romero
There is a concept called "Punching Down" that basically equates to mocking those of a disadvantaged class if you are of an advantaged class. It's a tough idea, actually, but it also makes sense. Native Immigration is an interesting piece, funny, and very detailed, but I worried at times that the filmmakers were punching down. At the same time, I was laughing at the finely crafted gags. Presented as a BBC-style expose of Britons who were only now discovering that they were, in fact, immigrants, it's got all sorts of things to enjoy, from posters in the background, to humorous sub-titles and graphics. There are a few points where I looked side-ways at a gag, wondering if that was offensive in the UK, and realising that there is a significant difference between our countries when it comes to race, and especially class, issues. The film's funny, and a lot of fun. The 'interviews' in the mockumentary are strong, and funny, especially the Kenyan who is a devout racist (and it works on so many levels right now, what with the frequent calls of 'Reverse Racism' leveled at various groups) and the Spaniard who thought he was Scottish. There were various points that if I heard that joke on the streets of San Jose, I would be uncomfortable. Well-made, maybe a couple of minutes longer than the material it presented warranted, and while it made me question my own attitudes, it also presented a powerful form of satire, a near-perfect send-up of the television issue documentary. You can see it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZNP7L-brT8
Elsewhere - Misan Akuya
This story of a racer who broke both his legs and now has to deal with his regular life is a pretty picture, one that understands the goal of the film, but also takes a bit of a round-about way to get there. There's a lot to like, from the well-seasoned cinematography to the well-considered sound design. The acting is solid, and the characters and the script work hard. The problem is it doesn't hold you all the way through, and lost me at least twice, though both times managed to bring me back. The thing that brought me back - Dianna Cruz. Her magnetic performance and charm is contagious, and when she comes on screen, you really can't help but dial back in.
You can find more at https://misanakuya.wordpress.com/
The Device - George Wroe
Science fiction has markers. From the very get-go, you know The Device is going to be a science fiction film, and a time-travel short as well. It's the story of a father and son who develop a device that allows them to go back in time. The Father has a plan, but doesn't share it with his son, not fully at least. They manage to go back, but face a minor set-back. The film has a couple of effects, which is nice, but the most important part has to be the fact that they manage to create a family dynamic that I bought into. If you can accomplish that, the science fiction elements become far less important, and the language of the characters is precise, and that part of the script is strong and ultimately is what pushes the film into its best presence. The production values are strong, and the set and prop work isn't flashy, which adds a layer of believability; if a father-son super-science team was working without a government research grants, everything would be kinda slap-dash! That's a really nice touch.
All The Better - Rebecca & Thomas Haffey
This is a tiny, one minute take on the Little Red Riding Hood story. It's a microshort, just one minute, and it doesn't really show too much, just a girl walking, a smash to black, a scream, and a return. That's it, with a lovely and original score from Debbie Allen that I found to be the most memorable portion of the film. At one minute, you can't really do much, but I think what they gave was well-done and I really wanted a little more of this, as I think they could easily handle the material and give us the same story, over two minutes, and be clearer, with a stronger hit. The cinematography is solid, and the forest, and young Ella Haffey, both take to the camera well, and made me want more. Still, that soundtrack alone makes All the Better worth it, as it's still running through my head. Also, and I rarely do this, but the design of the poster is incredible. I mean, look at it! You can see it at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8-NqaaPN58
Fruit of the Fungus - Josh Mitchell
The "Un-understood Map" is a wonderful trope of the Adventure genre. Fruit of the Fungus isn't an adventure film, but it uses it to great effect. The script is smart and funny, though things move a bit jumpily, and the delivery of lines ain't quite there, but there is so much fun to be had, you won't hardly notice. I loved the concept, and the way it unfolded was nice, though the pacing seemed a bit off at points, which was a touch frustrating because when it picked up, it was really good, but it would slow again, and so on. The technical aspects were all clean, especially the editing, and it was funny, which was enough for me to give it every chance. The ending was patently ridiculous, but it actually fit in with the oddness of the rest of the short. I don't feel like it failed in doing what it set out to do, not at all, but I do feel like it could have been tightened up a touch.
Hope - Fabio Ballisco
This short has little to it. A woman, left at the base of a set of mysterious pillars, follows the sound of a hammer contacting an anvil to watch appears to be a forge house in the woods.
After that, it gets weird.
This is such a simple story (and we're told that it's a trilogy) that I wondered where things were going. It wrapped up so quickly, with little given to us but a base hint. That's important as we're assuming that this is a linear narrative, that the things shown are connected, but at the same time, we have no certain hook for hanging that assumption on, which leaves us guessing. While it may be easy to see where our minds SHOULD be going, it is also not 100% certain that that is where our minds MUST go, and that sort of thing will drive some crazy. Me? I like ambiguity, and though there wasn't enough to this film for my tastes, I have to say it got me thinking by the end. You can find out more at https://www.facebook.com/JaborandiMovies/timeline
Nightfall of Eden - Daina Papadaki
This is a highly allegorical film dealing with the descent of humanity into war and hatred. We are presented Eden, populated by nymphs wearing only leaves, who frolic about being all sweet and adorable. The scenario then changes to one where projections of war and death occupy what was once an idyllic garden. We are then taken to Heaven, and then things get metaphysical. The production is beautiful, stunningly so, and the joy of those first shots is improbably effective. The metaphysical portion of the film is beautifully done, though it had a strong scent of Lord of the Rings visually. I enjoyed the message, and particularly the beauty of much of the short, and while I can certainly understand those who might say the message beats out everything else, I do not agree. Still, I am anxious to see more from Daina Papadaki, as her eyes is certainly well-trained. You can find more at https://dainapapadaki.wordpress.com