|SHADOWS ON THE WALL | REVIEWS | NEWS | FESTIVAL | AWARDS | Q&A | ABOUT | TALKBACK
|Shadows off the beaten path
|Indies, foreigns, docs, videos, revivals and shorts...
On this page:
THE BLUE UMBRELLA
Boys on Film 9 - FAMILY AFFAIR | IT'S NOT A COWBOY FILM | TOGETHER | THE WILDING
Antony Hickling - L'ANNONCIATION | LITTLE GAY BOY CHRIST IS DEAD | HOLY THURSDAY
< < S H O R T S > >
last update 7.Nov.13
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
|R E V I E W S B Y R I C H C L I N E
|The Blue Umbrella
dir-scr Saschka Unseld
prd Marc S Greenberg
13/US Pixar 6m
Stunning photorealistic animation makes this short film a feast for the eyes, even if the plot is sweet and very simple. It's set on a busy urban street, where a rainstorm starts slowly, and various mechanical fixtures smile at falling drops. Then the street is filled with commuters under umbrellas, with a bright blue one smiling in the storm, flirting with a red umbrella across the crowd. A big gust of wind changes everything, and the film cycles through action, fear and near-tragedy before the end. It's so skilfully rendered that we can easily suspend our disbelief at the apparent signs of joy and sadness in the "faces" of rain gutters, mail boxes and traffic lights. It's difficult not to smile ourselves, especially as the 3D throws the rain right into our faces too. Whether it'll make us happy to be caught out in a deluge is another question.
Showing with: MONSTERS UNIVERSITY • 9.Jun.13
|R E V I E W S B Y R I C H C L I N E
Boys on Film 9: Youth in Trouble
For their ninth collection of gay-themed short films, Peccadillo looks to stories of young people. Despite the title, not all of these films centre on "youth"; three of the eight shorts centre on characters in their late-20s. But all of them involve guys who make life-changing discoveries about themselves and the world around them. Much of this is a bit dark, touching on the realities of repression and homophobia. And some of them are essential viewing for young audiences.
release 26.Apr.13 • 13/UK Peccadillo 2h20 18 themes, language, sexuality, violence • 14.Apr.13
|Family Affair Assunto de Família
dir-scr Caru Alves de Souza
with Kaue Telloli, Thiago Franco Balieiro, Claudia Assuncao, Ney Piacentini, Thiago Pinheiro, Johnnas Oliva, Ronaldo Ferreira Amores
|With a darkly realistic edge to it, this clever and observant film merely teases us with an idea, but it leaves it hanging in the air hauntingly. In a working-class tower block, Rossi (Telloli) is constantly teased by his big brother Caua (Balieiro) as they prepare to watch a football match with their dad (Piacentini). Meanwhile, their mum (Assuncao) retires to the kitchen to prepare snacks and find a bit of solace from the macho men, dreaming of both her lost youth and a better life. Later, Caua brings a few of his friends back to the flat. Rossi eavesdrops as they talk about girls, then meets one of them on the balcony, where he's offered a cigarette. And a snog. The film is loose and especially well-played, with terrific character details in every scene, plus twists and turns along the way that offer sudden emotions, drama and humour. And in the end, filmmaker Alves manages to get under the skin of a superficially homophobic culture in a way that leaves us both smiling and thinking.
dir-scr James Cook
with Lucas Hansen, Ben Owora, Stuart Evans
|This eerie short film starts lightly, with sunny scenes of domestic bliss that turn dark and sinister. It centres on David (Hansen) , who has just moved in with his boyfriend Mark (Owora) when they return home to find a key in the door. Everything looks normal, but the TV comes on in the middle of the night. Then Mark disappears, but this has apparently happened before. But David becomes increasingly agitated as he waits for him to return. Writer-director Cook fills every scene with suggestions that something is up while offhanded performances keep everything relaxed and realistic. So as it becomes clear that someone else is in the house, the encroaching horror begins to feel a little over-egged, complete with freak-out music and bug-eyed acting. More intriguing is the film's commentary on how relationships cycle naturally through times of full-on romance, stony tension and internal questioning. But it starts to drag after Mark disappears shifting from black comedy something genuinely horrific. There are some terrific moments along the way, but it ultimately feels gimmicky for a 22-minute film.
dir-scr Grant Scicluna
with Reef Ireland, Shannon Glowacki, Luke Muillins, Frank Sweet, Richard Anastasios, Lachlan Ward, Peter Monea, Christina Chidiac
IRIS PRIZE 2012
Winner of the 2012 Iris Prize, this short is very well-shot on what's clearly a limited budget. It helps that all of the actors are so strong, vividly capturing the volatility of their environment as well as the inner turmoil. In a young offender's prison, Malcolm (Ireland) has a shot at parole if he's willing to cooperate with the authorities. But Malcolm has a secret: he's having a romantic relationship with his cellmate Tye (Glowacki), and cooperation will involve turning Tye in. Is freedom worth it? And if Malcolm isn't here, who will protect Tye? Filmmaker Scicluna bracingly captures the day-to-day tension in this place, with brutal feuds and darkly personal feelings gurgling under the surface. It's a bit jarringly edited, and the plot is largely limited to subtext, which doesn't make it easy to follow to follow. So aside from Malcolm, the characters are somewhat sketchy due to the minimal dialog and short, sharp scenes. Although Tye's all-consuming bravado is intriguingly softened by Malcolm's affection. ANd in the end the film has a surprisingly emotional kick.
|Its Not a Cowboy Film Ce NEst Pas un Film de Cow-boys
dir Benjamin Parent
scr Benjamin Parent, Joris Morio
with Malivai Yakou, Finnegan Oldfield, Leila Choukri, Garance Marillier, Damien Pinto-Gomes
French filmmaker Parent takes a superbly original approach to a provocative theme. And the result is witty, telling and ultimately so important that it should be mandatory viewing in schools. In a school on the day after Brokeback Mountain aired on television, kids gather in the toilets to talk about their reactions. Young Moussa (Yakou) isn't allowed to watch TV, so he asks the older Vincent (Oldfield) if it's as good a Western as he has heard. "No, it's a fag Western," Vincent replies, but as he goes on to describe the plot, admitting that the film deeply moved him and worrying that this might mean that he's gay too. Meanwhile in the girls' toilets, Nadia (Marillier) gets tired of her slapper friend Jess (Choukri) referring to the cowboys as "fags". "Say 'gay' or 'homo'," she says, defending the fact that her own father came out as gay later in life because he had been repressed like the men in the film. Both of these conversations play out in startlingly honest ways, mainly because the screenwriters refuse to fall into political correctness: they let the kids realistically use offensive terms, including referring to non-gays as "normal". And they also speak with hilarious frankness about their ideas of gay sex. This is an expertly shot, realistically acted film that's funny and jarring, telling and provocative. And it's even more fascinating because it it explores the unexpected reactions of people seeing this kind of acclaimed film in their own homes as opposed to the more restricted, artful environment of a cinema. Not to mention the irony of having these conversations in the school toilets.
B O Y S
O N F I L M
V O L 9:
R E V I E W S B Y R I C H C L I N E
Antony Hicklings Little Gay Boy: A Triptych
This somewhat deranged trilogy by the British/French artist mixes LGBT and religious imagery in provocative ways. But there's an intriguing method to Hickling's madness, as the film mixes profane visuals with much deeper themes. Take it literally (if you can) and you will be strongly offended, but this three-part tale has a lot to say symbolically...
LAnnonciation or The Conception of a Little Gay Boy
dir-scr Antony Hickling
with Amanda Dawson, Gala Besson, Gaetan Vettier, Mazime Behague, Francois Brunet, Antony Hicking, Kelly Gowry, Lydie Trajman
Opening with poetic narration about the Little Gay Boy, this arty short is a swirl of seemingly random images: tunnels, a woman (Besson) dressed as the Statue of Liberty, an obese English woman named Maria (Dawson) sleeping. Then we realise that Maria things the statue is watching her. "I feel so fat," she says, before taking a bath and heading out into the streets of Paris, where she works as a prostitute. Then the statue makes an announcement: "Rejoice! You have found favour with God. You will have a son and you will call him 'queer' and he will be the son of God." To which Maria yells, "What are you talking about? I'm 45!" From here the film takes several meandering twists and turns, as it builds expectation. Filmmaker Hickling gleefully plays with religious iconography, keeping the film both luridly colourful and oddly slow-paced. Everything feels silly and irreverent, but is underscored with darkly involving themes, including a final prophecy that Maria's son will die of Aids. Clever and haunting.
Little Gay Boy Christ Is Dead
dir-scr Antony Hickling
with Gaetan Vettier, Amanda Dawson, Bino Sauitzvy, Francois Brunet, Axel Sourissea, Alvaro Lombard, Steve Shagov, Herve Joseph Lebrun
This extremely visual short, part two in a trilogy about the Little Gay Boy, is packed with imagery that triggers all kinds of reactions. Set in Paris, it centres on the likeable Jean-Christophe (Vettier), a young guy who dreams about a white-painted dancer (Sauitzvy), but works in sadomasochistic roles for various clients. And he's even abused by strangers while riding the Metro. At one point he auditions to become a model, but the photographer (Brunet) is of course only interested in getting him naked. And so it goes with everyone he meets: an endless string of degradation simply because he's cute. His friends are mainly prostitutes and he lives with his overweight English mother Maria (Dawson), who continually makes inappropriate advances to him. The film is nicely shot and acted, but a bit random. It's packed with clever touches that add pitch-black humour, but there's a sense that it has a slightly moralistic edge to it as the dancer appears to become troubled as red mixes with his white paint. There's also the issue that filmmaker Hickling is trying a bit too hard to be transgressive on a variety of levels. But it's visually striking and thematically intriguing, and the way it confronts religious and sexual issues is powerfully challenging.
Holy Thursday (The Last Supper)
dir-scr Antony Hickling
with Gaetan Vettier, Manuel Blanc, Amanda Dawson, Gala Besson, Sothean Niheim, Pierre Mirgaine, Esteban Francois, Francois Brunet
Hickling concludes his triptych with a visually arresting short that finds intriguing parallels while blurring the lines between religious iconography and sexuality. Young Jean-Christophe (Vettier) is remembering his happier childhood with his father (Blanc) while strolling through a gay cruising site in the woods. Older men are drawn to his glacial blue eyes and a reputation that precedes him. But he's there to meet his father, who in flashbacks makes a dark deal with his mother (Dawson). This film has a slightly more traditional narrative than the previous chapters, with a sharp sense of characters and dialog. This makes the surreal touches that much more confrontational, such as when the men in the woods line up to "feed" from a near-naked man posing on a rock like a Greek god. There are other gods lurking in the foliage, as well as homophobic priests and J-C's not-so-saintly mother. As before, Hickling adds creepy incestuous touches. But he also makes important points, including a reminder that J-C isn't a girl just because he's gay. It's a hypnotic range of scenes that are packed with blackly witty visual touches and a father-son reunion that's deeply twisted but cleverly provocative. And with its big musical climax, the depraved last supper sequence is unforgettable.
If you have a short you want me to review - just ASK
© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall