Shadows Fest 2003SHORT FILM REVIEWS ’03 - ’04
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Back to the SHADOWS FILM FEST page • last update 29.Mar.04

filipowski and buddies CHUBBY BUDDY
Erika Yeomans; with Mot Filipowski, Heather Priest, Nicholas Amato, Roger Haskins • 03/US 13m 3h out of 5 stars
This entertaining experimental short features the deadpan narration of its protagonist (Filipowski) as he describes his life leading up to a event when he "ruined someone's sense of privacy". The title refers to the stuffed animals he develops a fixation with after he loses his job in New York City and is left to roam the Connecticut suburbs in search of some connection with life, his wife and and his deceased child. But this isn't a depressing film; it's full of bracing black humour and a fragmented, intriguing tone that's both creepy and funny at the same time. It's very cleverly shot and edited like a collage of grainy home movies, broken up into short chapters ending with awkward blackouts that feel almost like hiccups in the overall film. Filipowski is fascinating as the mopey obsessive at the centre, and Yeomans shows considerable skill both visually and thematically. Keep an eye on her. [3.Mar.04]
back to the top LFF ’03 SHORTS
Selected short films seen at the 47th London Film Festival, Oct-Nov 2003
the gang festival THE TRUTH ABOUT HEAD
Dale Heslip • 03/Canada 13m 4 out of 5 stars
This deranged but oddly engaging short tells the story of Ed, a body-less man who runs a freak show with his pals: a big black ballerina, a scary clown and a lobster man. When a doctor attaches his head to a body, he enjoys all new adventures on the stage, but his novelty value is gone! Hilarious Dr Seuss-style narration, flashbacks in the style of home movies, a zany cast that feels like it came from a John Waters movie and some seriously warped dialog make this good fun. And the serious undertone makes it a moving fable about want vs need. [5.Nov.03]
pull the rope DANGLE
Phil Trail; with PT Dangle • 03/Germany 6m 3h out of 5 stars
This witty and very simple short finds a guy roaming across a field outside a big city when he suddenly discovers a red velvet rope hanging from the blue sky. He gets up the nerve to pull it ... with surprising results. Completely silent with only minimal sound effects, there's a gleeful and slightly goofy sense of dark humour here that doesn't overstay its welcome. [5.Nov.03]
one of those days EXCURSION
Chris Jones; with Dame Hill, Rohan Patterson • 03/Australia 3m 3½ out of 5 stars
This incredibly quick short is over before we know it ... and the filmmaker makes every second count (and then some) with a rapid-fire of multi-format clips that trace the worst imaginable day. You know, one of those days when you find a midget practicing his golf swing on your dining room table! Surreal special effects and a generally hilarious style make it rather outrageous and enjoyable. But it's probably too clever and too short for it's own good. [5.Nov.03]
Amy Barrett; with Neil Jain, Sarah Clarke, Xander Berkeley, Mary Louise Wilson, Christina Kirk, Sandra Bernhardt • 03/US 16m 2h out of 5 stars
Nutty and stylised, this short follows a couple on a day out to Coney Island. It's supposed to be the perfect date, during which the guy is going to pop the question, but nothing goes remotely to plan. Meanwhile, his Russian girlfriend is up to who knows what, stealing everything in sight while everyone they meet at the closed-for-winter park seems to have their own agenda. Eventually it gets somewhat grating as we wait for the payoff. It's all rather awkward, but kind of sweet too. [5.Nov.03]
back to the top LLGFF ’04 SHORTS
Short films from the British Film Institute's 18th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival March-April 2004.
ryan and chowdhry llgff SEAFOOD
Robin Baker; with Daniel Ryan, Navin Chowdhry, Colin Howdle, Will Adams, Julia Baker, Dan Ivens, Jonathan Keane, Brian Robinson • 04/UK 10m 4 out of 5 stars
This clever and well-made British short follows two friends (Ryan and Chowdhry) who run into each other--literally--outside a supermarket, then go on a pub crawl in East London during which both are looking for romance in completely different ways. One wants lasting romance, the other wants quick sex, and in its brief 10 minutes the film intriguingly examines the disparity between the two. Writer-director Baker nicely captures an awkward sense of connection and longing, one of the more confusing and frustrating aspects of the singles scene anywhere on earth (not just in gay London!). Extremely well shot, edited and acted as well. [12.Jan.04 world premiere]
barco, thioly and laligue L’ULTIMA NOTTE
Mathieu Guez • with Gregory Barco, Clemence Thioly, Adrien Laligue • 03/Canada 18m 4/5 stars
This powerfully emotional short is virtually wordless as it examines a fateful night in a relationship. The set-up and pay-off are just vague enough to allow several readings of the motivations behind what happens, but the raw facts are simple: A woman (Thioly) brings a strange foreigner (Laligue) home with her one night. Her boyfriend (Barco) is a bit surprised, but after some drinking they end up in a sexual tangle that has surprising consequences. Or is it really that surprising? There's a quiet expectancythat grabs hold of us from the start--mellow music, warm and insinuating cinematography, extremely natural performances and an involving, simple-but-twisty plotline. There's also a raw sensuality at work, starting when the threesome writes their names across each others' chests then moving into the bedroom and bathtub. Yes, the on-screen sex is a bit gratuitous, especially for a film with such a moralistic, cautionary conclusion. But this is solid filmmaking from a director to watch. [7.Mar.04 llgff]
decaestecker ALL OVER BRAZIL
David Andrew Ward • with Iain de Caestecker, Frank Gallagher, Gemma Morrison • BBC 03/UK 10m 4/5 stars
Beautifully filmed and acted, this sympathetic Scottish drama packs a strong punch as it looks at a family after the death of the mother. Dad (Gallagher) is coping best as he can, but simply doesn't know what to do with his young-teen son (de Caestecker), who's obsessed with the glam rock music his big sister (Morrison) listens to. Dad tries to get the boy interested in the big football match Brazil is playing on TV, but the kid sneaks off to dress up like his rock-star hero instead. There's a subtle and very emotional kick at the end of the film that catches us off guard. The film is quite serious actually ... but it has fabulous overtones! [22.Feb.04 llgff]
dempsey dreams RITCHIE’S ITCH
Michael Shea • scr John Smythe • with Michael E Dempsey, Wayne Terry, Rebecca O'Brien, Todd Cosgrove, Jose Payo • 03/US 11m 3h out of 5 stars
This energetic short plays with suppressed sexuality as the macho carpenter Ritchie (Dempsey) has surprising dreams about having sex with men in a forest. He tells his colleague Nick (Terry) about this, and Nick seems to take a bit too much interest in these stories, even to the point of putting Ritchie to the test. This is a funny and enjoyable short, extremely talky where it would benefit from more ethereal dream sequences (that actually show us what's happening--these are bland and very timid). But the dialog is witty and very clever, building to increasingly outlandish jokes and a final punchline that's not completely unexpected, but it is funny. [29.Mar.04 llgff]
isaacson STEVEN’S SIN
Lynda Tarryk • with Christopher Isaacson, Patrick White, Jerry Giles, Deborah Leydig • 03/US 15m 4 out of 5 stars
Kind of a companion piece to the feature
LATTER DAYS, this short film takes a look at hidden sexuality on a Mormon missionary's service in Los Angeles. In this case, Steven (Isaacson) is led astray by his outreach partner Javier (White), who introduces him to the delights of drinking, swearing, smoking and more. There's a surprisingly obvious good guy-bad guy thing going on here: clean-cut blonde versus shaggy brunette, all-American vs foreigner. So while the big twist is pretty emotional, it's not too surprising, really. And even if it's a bit obvious and clunky, it's also very realistic in the way it tells the story--we find ourselves surprisingly moved in the end. [29.Mar.04 llgff]
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