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last update 11.Apr.09
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london l&g film festival From the BFI's 23rd London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Mar.09
Diana   4/5
dir-scr Aleem Khan
with Neeraj Singh, Ann Barnett, Rex Duis
09/UK 10m
Moody and very dark, this virtually dialog-free short centres tightly on Mohit (Singh), a transsexual who wakes up one morning to the news of Princess Diana's death in a car crash. From here we follow her through the streets of London as the details appear in newspapers and on TV screens. Along the way Mohit has several random encounters and is spurred to phone her mother backing India. And what she hears on the phone is even more heartbreaking than Diana's death. The film takes a while to get into gear; the early scenes feel a bit melodramatic. But Singh's performance deepens as it progresses, and the final images are haunting and very moving, full of bitterness and resilience. Filmmaker Kahn really captures the aching feeling on the streets that day, as well as Mohit's wrenching inner anguish.
6.Apr.09 llgff
The Postcard   3.5/5
dir-scr Josh Kim
with Suh Inwoo, Simo, Park So-yun, Park Sun-zoo
07/Korea 15m
the postcard This comical short is hilariously well-written and directed in a sun-drenched style that plays with glaring whites and garish colours. It centres on two bored post office workers (Park and Park) trying to do as little work as possible. Then a young man (Suh) comes in to mail a postcard and they argue over who gets to flirt with him. The card he mails, which they of course read, suggests that he has a crush on one of them. But it turns out that the target is actually his postman (Simo). With silly captions and subtitles, sharp characters and extremely witty visuals, this is a very funny little film. And even tough it's a bit slight, it has a lovely open-handed conclusion that can't help but make us sigh.
5.Apr.09 llgff
Wrestling   4/5   Bræðrabylta
dir-scr Grimur Hakonarson
with Halldor Gylfason, Bjorn Ingi Hilmarsson, Helga Braga Jonsdottir, Maria Gudmundsdottir
08/Iceland 21m
gylfason and hilmarsson
wrestling Iceland's "glima" folk wrestling looks just a bit ridiculous on screen, as the competitors lock into dance steps before trying to flip each other into the air. This film tells a fully developed story about Danni (Gylfason), a champion whose boyfriend and fellow wrestler Einar (Hilmarsson) won't leave his wife. So Danni breaks up and quits wrestling, putting all his energy into his job digging a tunnel through a mountain. Meanwhile, Einar is struggling with his feelings, trying to get up the nerve to change his life completely. The film has a bone-dry wit and a strong emotional undertone and, as the story covers several months, filmmaker Hakonarson beautifully captures the Icelandic scenery through winter and spring. Even more impressive is the way the film catches the internal emotions of its characters, including some awkward interaction that's startlingly realistic. And the story and themes are so resonant that, even at just 21 minutes, it feels like a feature film.
5.Apr.09 llgff
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edinburgh film festivallos angeles film festival Miscellaneous shorts from Edinburgh, Los Angeles and elsewhere, Jun-Aug.09
Horn Dog   4/5
dir-scr Bill Plympton
09/US 5m
horn dog

edinburgh film festival

horn dog This is the fourth in a series that started with the Oscar-nominated Guard Dog and continued with Guide Dog and Hot Dog. As the title suggests, the little fellow is in love this time, and the short takes on a Road Runner tone as he tries everything he can think of to catch the attention of a sleek, prissy poodle in a park. Each little vignette is hysterically funny, especially as the dog imagines the effects chocolates, pearls or a violin solo will have on his intended. But of course reality takes a very different turn. Plympton animates it beautifully - it looks like each frame is individually drawn with coloured pencils. It's imaginative, raucous, rude and even rather violent, but more than that it's fiendishly cute and utterly hilarious.
17.Jun.09 eiff
Partly Cloudy   4/5
dir-scr Peter Sohn
voices Tony Fucile, Lori Richardson
09/US 6m
partly cloudy
partly cloudy Pixar always attaches a short film to their features, bless them! (Although their competitors in the Best Animated Short Oscar category might not be so happy about this.) This one accompanied UP and tells the story of how the stork delivers babies from billowy clouds to earth. The focus here is on a bedraggled stork assigned to the rather darker cloud that creates dangerous babies like crocodiles, porcupines and sharks, which make the stork's job a bit more hazardous than his colleagues, who he eyes with jealousy as they deliver cute kittens and puppies. When the stork goes to another cloud, his cloud gets seriously angry. But he needn't have worried! This gorgeously animated mini-epic is wonderfully inventive, full of imagination and pathos and more than a little deranged. Superb.
We Were Once a Fairytale 4.5/5
dir-scr Spike Jonze
with Kanye West
release US/UK 8.Sep.09
09/US 14m

los angeles film festival

we were once a fairytale This film had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival, in an outdoor screening that was pretty magical just because of the setting. So it was an specially good way to see this fantastical short by Jonze, starring West as a version of himself. The story finds him in a noisy bar, clearly intoxicated and boring everyone by gloating when his song See You in My Nightmares comes on. He takes a girl to a back room to fool around, but falls into a drunken stupor, after which things start getting very surreal. The film has an absurd and funny tone that's balanced by a remarkable emotional undertone. The lushly dark camerawork shifts focus and shakes like someone who's not quite in control of their senses; even the sound is densely layered. And the effects work is remarkably understated and inventive, as you'd expect from Jonze. When West projectile vomits in the men's room, it looks like rose petals fluttering across the room. When he digs around inside himself for the problem, he finds an adorable furry creature that he doesn't want to part with. Clearly this is a film about battling your inner demons. It's beautifully made, both sweet and sad, and utterly unforgettable.
24.Jun.09 laff
One Love   3.5/5  
dir DJ Matrundola
scr Victoria Minkoff, Denise DePass
with Polly Shannon, Russell Yuen, Larry Day, Benz Antoine, Vanessa Matsui, Josh Kimmel, Linlyn Lue, Jon-Paul Khouri, Natacha Noel
09/Canada 15m
matsui and khouri
onelove In just 15 minutes, this extremely well-made short weaves together four stories about parenthood: a Middle-Eastern guy (Khouri) meets a drunken goth (Matsui) in a bar just as her waters break, then helps her get to the hospital; a couple (Antoine and Noel) arrives at the hospital with hopes of finally getting their adoptive child; a guy (Yuen) is in the ER with a broken nose, while his pregnant wife (Lue) has some trouble in the restroom; and a lively couple (Kimmel and Shannon) is making a video for their unborn child just before he's born. None of these stories goes as expected, and even though the film strikes a rather worthy, overserious tone, it's not remotely preachy about the subject matter, merely observing these stories and the huge impact birth has on these adults. It's a thoughtful, moving look at childbirth, beautifully shot and edited, and sharply played by the cast with plenty of personality and a remarkable amount of wrenching emotion for such a short film.
The First Days of Spring   4/5  
dir-scr Charlie Fink
with Ben Lloyd-Hughes, Patrick Hyde, Richard Franklin, Daisy Lowe, Alexandra Barker, Chris Shilling, Amanda Waldy, Buddy Hunter
release UK 31.Aug.09
09/UK 47m
the first days of spring A filmed accompaniment to Noah and the Whale's album, this involving, engaging short parallels the music with lush widescreen photography and intense, rich colours as it swirls around the life of a man from youth (Lloyd-Hughes) to adulthood (Hyde) to old age (Franklin). The scenes centre on his relationships, which through lyrical editing are made to overlap and interact intriguingly. We see him pining over a girl, struggling to cope with his pregnant girlfriend (Barker) and watching a family garden party attended by his wife (Waldy), children and grandchildren. Each scene is emotionally charged, and as a long-form music video it achieves a lovely, surreal tone that echoes strong themes of loneliness, longing, maturity and compromise. The slowly moving camera and overlapping settings add a terrific atmospheric edge. And of course there's the terrific music accompanying it all (with just a little dialogue), including the gorgeous single Blue Skies.
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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall