Shadows Fest 2003SHORT FILM REVIEWS ’04 - ’05
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Back to the SHADOWS FILM FEST page • last update 19.Mar.05

back to the top LFF ’04 SHORTS
Selected short films seen at the 48th London Film Festival, Oct-Nov 2004
conroy and gleeson festival SIX SHOOTER
Martin McDonagh • with Brendan Gleeson, Ruaidhri Conroy, David Wilmot, Aisling O'Sullivan, Domnhall Gleeson • 04/Ireland 27m4/5
This rather long short film tells a rather complicated and blackly comic tale of death! It centres on a man (Brendan Gleeson) whose wife has just died. On the way home from hospital on a train, an extremely chatty young man (Conroy) just will not shut up. And most of what he says is violently offensive. Especially to the young couple (Wilmot and O'Sullivan) across the aisle, who have just lost a baby to cot death. And it gets worse, much worse, from here. This is skillfully well-filmed and edited, with a clever sense of pacing and an extremely cruel sense of humour. There's even a flashback as the kid tells his very rude tale about "a cow with trapped wind". Sad, violent, emotional and constantly surprising. (30.Oct.04)
azaria and tambor NOBODY’S PERFECT
Hank Azaria • scr Andrew Hill Newman, Hank Azaria • with Hank Azaria, Ellen Pompeo, Jeffrey Tambor, Maria Bello, Christina Applegate, Harold Gould, Joshua Malina, Grant Heslov, Richard Kind, Alexandra Holden • 03/US 23m 4/5
This witty, entertaining comedy follows a guy (Azaria) who is terrified to make a commitment to his girlfriend (Pompeo). Then his grandfather (Gould) gives him a pair of magic glasses that let him see how his relationships will turn out, and as he looks at girl after girl he sees one nasty breakup after another. Until of course he learns an Important Life Lesson. It's rather goofy and very corny, and some story elements just don't work (why can he hear as well as see the future?). A lot of gags are rather cheap, and the final message is extremely unsubtle. But along the way there are some brilliant touches, and the cast is terrific, keeping us giggling from start to finish. (4.Nov.04)
Jamieson-Cook PLAYING DEAD
David Hunt • with Titus Jamieson-Cook, Pat Burridge • 04/UK 9m 3.5/5
This is an atmospheric short with no dialog that captures a young person's curiosity even in the most macabre the situation. It follows a young boy (Kamieson-Cook) who's playing in the woods, poking around the wreck of a car, invading birds nests, typical boy things. Then he discovers something awful, but doesn't react remotely like either an adult or a well-educated child would! This is beautifully filmed and edited, and captures an entire range of tones from comedy to tragedy. It feels a bit long and slight, but still keeps us entranced. (25.Oct.04)
coffee goes right through him THE SOUL HUNTER
Christine Rebet • 03/Germany 3m 3.5/5 stars
Using inky animation, filmmaker Rebet tells a surreal story about a group of people in a diner who are under threat of having their souls sucked out of them by a sinister fellow customer. Besides the ink, a few other fluids--caffeine, urine, petrol--feature in the story as a young boy concocts an ingenius plan to save the day. The screen is virtually white, with uneven lines and blobs of strong colour that inventively tell the tiny-epic story. It looks absolutely wonderful--entrancing and unlike anything you've ever seen. And the climactic ink explosion is seriously eye-popping! (28.Oct.04)
hoth and friend THE OLD MAN AND THE STUDIO
Eric Champnella • with George Milton Hoth, Ian Somerhalder, Marley Shelton, Tim Conlon, Grant Thompson • 03/US 13m 3/5
The target for this spoof is rather obvious, but the cast and crew have such fun with it that we can't help but enjoy ourselves. It's a high concept: Ernest Hemmingway (Hoth) is hired by a studio to write a screenplay based on his novel The Old Man and the Sea, but a roomful of barely post-pubescent studio execs just can't help but meddling, trying to make it more commercial, maybe a franchise! And of course it will need a love interest. And how about a ticking clock element? And couldn't the main character be not so old after all, so Adam Sandler or Sean William Scott could be involved? And so it goes. This isn't terribly original--they're all standard Hollywood jokes. But the production is immaculate, in a TV sitcom sort of way, there are some terrific throwaway gags (Coming soon: Vin Diesel in Great ExXxpectations), and the final joke is at least vicious. (28.Oct.04)
back to the top LLGFF ’05 SHORTS
Selected short films seen at the BFI's 19th London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, Mar-Apr 2005
speedo freak festival PACKED LUNCH
Tim Hunter • with Peter Travers, Andrew Creagh • 05/Australia 25m 2.5/5
"It's the male equivalent of the Wonder Bra." Aussie filmmaker Hunter is clearly obsessed with Speedos, so he decided to make a documentary about the whole fetish scene, and the resulting short is kind of like a local radio feature. It's basically made up of vox pop interviews with swimsuit obsessives talking about why they love tiny lycra and nylon shorts so much. We get analyses of what's the best shape, why they're so sexy to gay men, and even a bit of history in an interview with original Speedo designer Travers. But the whole thing feels rather random. Bits of narration are purely editorial (not documentary) and there's rather a lot of footage of big-bulging men frolicking on the beach and in swimming pools. Worst of all are inserted clips of a grumpy (and badly overacting) drag queen taking us through her collection. There is some very interesting material here, and the scene itself is definitely worth a doc. But honestly, it could all be said in about 5 minutes. On the other hand, Speedo fetishists will love this. (19.Mar.05)
atwood and stephens NOAH’S ARC
Patrik-Ian Polk • with Darryl Stephens, Jensen Atwood, Douglas Spearman, Rodney Chester, Christian Vincent, Johnny Smith, Nate Adams, George Keith, Jennia Watson, Dwen Curry, Jonathan Julian, Keith Boykin • 04/US 30m 3/5
This TV series pilot is basically a black, gay Sex and the City wannabe, and it certainly has plenty of material to work with, as the four main characters are colourful and extremely full of personality--queeny nice guy Noah (Stephens) and his pals, the brainy Chance (Spearman), diva Alex (Chester) and slutty Ricky (Vincent). Each has relational issues, from Noah's lust for his straight friend Wade (Atwood) to Chance and Alex dealing with long-term relationship issues. But writer director Polk seems a bit preoccupied with putting his characters into compromising situations--in the pilot alone, each one must make a moral decision on whether to cross a line. And while they may be relevant and authentic, it plays out like a contrived, somewhat preachy farce rather than a sassy comedy. This is probably due to the uneven acting (Stephens and Atwood are very good, but the others are sometimes rather cliched) and a general lack of energy that dampens down the humour so badly that we never actually laugh. With some tighter writing and directing, there's a lot of potential here, and it's great to at least see someone address a completely untapped segment of society. (19.Mar.05)
Arlene Donnelly Nelson, David Nelson • with Spencer Tunick, Vinny Allegrini, Gwen Barringer, Mark de Solla Price, Shawn Decker, Elizabeth Perez, Barbara Kemper Powell, Julia Tripp, Ron Singleton, Sean Strub, Spence Sutton • 04/US HBO 36m 4/5
At the beginning, this doc feels surprisingly superficial for its subject matter. But it deepens remarkably as it goes, bringing out some extremely strong insights in a very short time. It's a record of Spencer Tunick's photographic installation to mark the 10th anniversary of Poz magazine, filling a New York cafe with naked HIV-positive people. And the early part of the film seems to dwell mostly on America's obsessive paranoia of nudity--the participants are terrified of getting naked and feel the need to justify it at every opportunity. Then they're surprised when it turns out to be no big deal, and the film gets on with examining their attitudes. For many this is their first public statement of their HIV status, and the camaraderie between them is vivid--men and women, straight and gay, healthy and ill. When Tunick actually begins shooting, the film shifts into something startlingly moving. And the filmmakers artfully and sensitively close in on specific participants to tell their stories and hear their thoughts. Eventually, the film becomes a strong examination of how people deal with HIV, from their own reactions to the range of ways strangers treat them. In the end, this is both a lovely document of an event and a remarkably moving portrait of 85 brave people. (17.Mar.05)
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