|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: BOYS ON FILM 12: CONFESSION
AGE 17 | CRUISE PATROL | DEFLATED | GOOD MORNING | HOME FROM THE GYM
HUMAN WARMTH | I AM SYD STONE | SHOWBOY | TONIGHT IT'S ME
< < S H O R T S > >
last update 19.Nov.14
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
|R E V I E W S B Y R I C H C L I N E
Boys on Film 12: Confession
For their next series of gay-themed shorts, Peccadillo has a series of introspective, well-crafted films that explore the deeply personal feelings of young men. Most of them don't even know how they feel about their life, but something isn't right, and the clever ways the filmmakers approach the themes leaves the audience thinking.
release 24.Nov.14 • 14/UK Peccadillo 1h39 18 themes, language, violence, sexuality • 12-16.Nov.13
|Home From the Gym
dir Robert Hawk
with Jake Robbins
Based on a tweet, this wordless short carries a surprising emotional kick. It's a bracingly simple idea: a guy (Robbins) comes into the door of his studio flat, strips off his clothing, towels himself off and sits on the sofa. Yes, it's extremely voyeuristic, as the camera lingers over every inch of his wildly fit, smooth, muscled body. But it's also shot in extreme closeup in murky lighting, which keeps it from looking prurient. Filmmaker Hawk is clearly making a comment on the loneliness of the gym-bunny life, which consists of posing and posturing and then sitting home alone. So while the film feels both preachy and a bit too pointed, it's also suggesting and eerily thoughtful.
dir Stephen Dunn, Peter Knegt
with Peter Knegt, Oliver Skinner
A blaring alarm wakes a guy (Knegt) on the morning after his raucously drunken 30th birthday party, and in his small flat he discovers a 17-year-old boy (Skinner) he apparently brought home with him. He can't remember anything, but is relieved to learn that he just vomited and passed out. And the kid seems nice enough: he made some toast for breakfast, all he could find in the fridge. The film is snappy and funny, playfully exploring the gap between these two age brackets, as the 30-year-old gets freaked out and talks far too quickly. But he's intrigued by the fact that the younger guy is relaxed and out about his sexuality, and doesn't mind that his relationships don't always make sense. There's a slightly preachy tone, as the characters talk about how they'd rather find the right guy than just go with whoever is closest on Grindr. But the film is snappy, smart and ultimately rather sweet.
22.Mar.14 Flare • revisited 12.Nov.14
dir-scr Samuel Leighton-Dore
with Lucas Pittaway, Mal Kennard, Richie Finger, Stephanie King, Matt Levett, Arlie Dodds
From Australia, this short is oddly difficult to hone into, as it skips around its scenes in a kind of free-form way. It's also quiet and internalised, and feels a little forced in the way it juxtaposes its characters. But it's also fascinating. A man (Kennard) and his teen son Julian (Pittaway) share a flat and an interest in football. As dad brings home a new girlfriend (King), Julian catches the eye of a neighbour Asher (Levett). But Julian has a secret: he tells his dad he's going to football practice, then instead heads to a seedy drag club, where he's the star act. Writer-director Leighton-Dore creates a vivid sense of yearning sexuality both in father and son, while adding character details that add plenty of interest. But while the choppy editing creates some intense moments, as well as some big surprises, it also undermines the narrative by diffusing the meaning and the momentum.
dir Bobby de Groot, Arjan can Meerten
scr Bobby de Groot
A splash of luridly energetic animation, this wacky short is visually and thematically inventive and almost outrageously garish. It opens on an isolated desert road where a driver is speeding along as two teddy bears smoke in the back seat. When they're pulled over by a swaggering cop, everything turns tense, as bullets and tentacles are deployed in a desperate conflict. In just eight minutes, this wordless film manages to get wildly insane. The animators use extreme close-ups and jarring colours, vertiginous angles and raucous sound, plus one heart-racing moment of frozen reality and a little gay twist. It's utterly ridiculous, and fiendishly clever.
|I Am Syd Stone
dir-scr Denis Theriault
with Gharrett Patrick Paon, Michael Gaty, Alse Hand, Brooke MacDonald, Sean Skerry, Fonya Irvine
With an oddly muted tone, this short doesn't quite develop on a very clever central idea. It's about a big movie star, Syd (Paon), who returns to his hometown for his high school reunion, to much media attention. As he hides in his hotel room, he's visited by his old friend Brent (Gaty). Their conversation is relaxed and sexy, but there's also regret because their relationship ended when the now-closeted Syd left town. In those 10 years, Brent had a daughter while Syd adapted. The film would work a lot better if these two men didn't look like identical twin brothers. This is so distracting that the idea about how actors have to disguise their true selves never quite gains any traction. And while the performances are earthy and involving, the final scenes feel sudden, as well as too overwrought to either ring true or shed much light on the themes.
See also the feature: I AM SYD STONE (2021) • 14.Nov.14
dir-scr Dustin Shroff
with Carson Trinity Haverda, Greg Baglia, Charles Basham, Keturah Branch
There isn't much dialog in this short, which makes a strong point using a visual gimmick. A young boy (Haverda) is in a superstore with his dad (Baglia) and runs off to get a big plastic ball. But all of the balls in the display are pink, which is fine with the kid but he still feels like he needs to look for an alternative. Rummaging through them he finds a green one that's deflated. And after fantasising about playing all day in a sea of endless, joyful pink the boy has an agonising decision to make. Yes, the film is making a comment on the gender pressure in toys, as this boy is only too aware that he's not allowed to pick the ball he wants, but rather the one society insists he has, even if its imperfect. Filmmaker Shroff and the superb Haverda have a lot of fun with this, but the point is made instantly, so the film begins to feel a little on-the-nose by the time it gets to the punchline. Still, it's a clever take on an important issue.
|Age 17 17 Anni
dir-scr Filippo Demarchi
with Ignazio Oliva, Fabio Foiada, Laura Minazzi, Kevin Martinetti
With an earthy, natural tone and feature-film production values, this Swiss short opens the door to a very touchy subject, but filmmaker Demarchi seems a bit unsure about what to do with it. Still, it's provocative and resonant. It centres on the priest Massimo (Oliva), who directs a community marching band. They're pretty terrible, but 17-year-old Matteo (Foiada) is extremely keen, practicing diligently while sticking up for other bandmates who are bullied by fellow drummer Firat (Martinetti). Matteo also has a secret crush on Massimo, and when he begins to confess it to his best girlfriend (Minazzi), she unsurprisingly gets the wrong end of the stick. But it's the way Matteo begins to follow Massimo around, misreading his kindness, that gets him into trouble. All of this is told from the perspective of a teen who is unsure about himself and tentative about talking to others, but finally feels like he might be able to open up to someone. There's a bit of melodramatic sulking involved, but the film is open and edgy, with strong hints that Massimo might understand what Matteo is feeling a lot better than he thinks.
|Human Warmth Chaleur Humaine
dir-scr Christophe Predari
with Thomas Coumans, Adrien Desbons
Strikingly well shot and acted, this surreal short explores a breakup in an unusually intimate way. Dark, moody and almost wrenchingly authentic, it centres on Antoine (Coumans), a young guy trying to win his boyfriend (Desbons) back by reminding him how much they love each other. As he speaks, he imagines that they're naked together in a fairy tale woodland, touching, smelling, kissing, biting, grappling. He's fighting for their connection to each other in a place that strips out the distractions of the real world, which makes the film unusually internalised. Filmmaker Predari shoots largely in close-up, using complex editing to cut to the core of how it feels to know that the truth about a relationship is simply something you don't want to hear. Remarkably, the boyfriend responds without anger, demonstrating warmth and compassion that actually might help Antoine find some healing. This is a beautiful, thought-provoking film with a strong emotional current that lingers like a love you don't want to give up.
22.Mar.14 Flare • revisited 16.Nov.14
|Tonight Its Me
dir Dominic Haxton
scr Charles Mallison, Eric Jett
with Jake Robbins, Caleb James, Nathan Elliot, Christian Patrick
An intriguing idea is somewhat weakened by a languid approach that focusses on whispery dialog and elusive interaction. It opens as the blond rentboy CJ (Robbins) dodges questions from a client about who he is and where he's from. The next client is Ash (James), and the two have a subdued conversation before moving on to an awkward game of 2 Truths 1 Lie. Too drunk to drive home, CJ stays the night, and the two find a connection before they each discover something telling about the other. The film is nicely show, developing a strong sense of these two guys and their physicality. Their interaction hints at a deeper common ground, mainly because both are so lonely. So it's a bit frustrating that director Haxton lets the film drift from one little montage to the next, never quite connecting the dots. Robbins has plenty of swaggering presence as CJ, but it only emerges between the lines. And in the end the film's message is as obvious as the stains that accumulate on CJ's shirt with each job and each lie.
If you have a short you want me to review - just ASK
© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall