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last update 15.Mar.15
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Eleanor   4/5  
dir Tobias Ross-Southall, Alex Warren
scr Michael Lesslie, Anya Reiss, Polly Stenham, Alex Warren
with Ruth Wilson
15/UK 20m

For info:
Eleanor Playing out over three screens, this short can only be viewed in an art gallery, so may be difficult to chase down, but it's well worth the effort. Ruth Wilson plays three Londoners whose lives become interlinked over the course of an evening: a taxi driver, a business woman and a dog owner who goes fishing for dinner in the Thames. The three-screen format allows the filmmakers to explore the inner thoughts and feelings of each of these women, which makes the experience of watching it rather surreal and sensory as they flow in and out of each other. (The three strands are inspired on the poems If I Could Tell You by WH Auden, Acquainted With the Night by Robert Frost and The Faithless Wife by Leonard Cohen.) It's strikingly well shot with crisp, lush digital camerawork and edited together with a remarkable precision, using juxtaposition and a dense sound mix to create all kinds of emotional resonance. In the end, it feels somewhat untouchable - more like an art installation than a narrative short - but it still manages to get under the skin and make us both think and feel.


Elgin Park   3.5/5  
dir Danny Yourd
with Michael Paul Smith
15/US 9m

For info:
Elgin Park A series of period-style 1950s photos are actually revealed to be shot in astoundingly detailed miniature by the photographer and model-maker Smith (who is oddly never named in the film). As he explains how he creates each complex image, he explains his goal to document the 20th century through scenes in his fictional town Elgin Park. He also prefers to remain a recluse, something increasingly difficult due to the fact that his photographs have gone viral. This simple-looking documentary then takes a strikingly deep turn, as Smith talks about why he avoids public recognition: because he's still haunted by how badly bullied he was in school for being gay, pushing him to a suicide attempt. So Elgin Park is his attempt to evoke a dreamlike version of his past to tie up the loose ends. And each image is actually based on an event, so close examination reveals spooky, dark details. The film is very cleverly shot and edited to reveal the power of Smith's images then pull back to show the bigger picture. It's a bright, snappy film that finds real depth in the fact that Smith is utterly transparent, remaining chirpy even about the more horrible aspects of his childhood. Eye-opening and haunting.


Frozen Fever   4/5  
dir Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee
scr Jennifer Lee
voices Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad
15/US Disney 7m
anna and elsa

See also:
FROZEN (2013)

Frozen Fever This brief follow-up to Disney's blockbuster Frozen manages to wedge an astonishing amount of wit, charm and merchandising opportunities into seven brisk minutes. The plot sees Queen Elsa (voiced by Menzel) planning the perfect birthday party for her sister Anna (Bell), with the help of Kristoff (Groff) and the hapless snowman Olaf (Gad). But Elsa is in denial about her flu-like symptoms ("A cold never bothered me anyway!") and as her sneezing fits dissolve into a fever, Anna has to convince her that there are other ways to make a birthday perfect. The plot is simple and sweet, and both the imagery and the script are packed with snappy gags that are very funny. Obviously, there isn't much scope in such a short film for developing characters, but this engaging little comedy-drama offers a hint about where a sequel might go. And every child now has a new cuddly toy to pester their parents to buy. And a catchy song stuck in their heads.

showing with CINDERELLA • 1.Mar.15

Lava   5/5  
dir-scr James Ford Murphy
voices Kuana Torres Kahele, Napua Grieg
14/US Pixar 7m

lava Stunning in its simplicity, this warm, gentle short resonates with a variety of emotions, as the tropical island volcano Uku (Kahele) watches animals enjoying their mates and hopes to one day have one of his own. "I have a dream I hope will come true," he sings, wishing that the earth and sky would send him "someone to lava". Under the sea, the volcano Lele (Grieg) hears his song, and over thousands of years she quietly grows to the surface as Uku's inner fire burns out. But his dream never dies. This is another gorgeously animated mini-epic from Pixar, mixing first-rate design with a series of clever touches in the inventive visual style of the film, the hugely hummable Polynesian music and the twists and turns of the story. Ultimately, it's a beautiful portrayal of the ache of loneliness and the power of hope. And the unexpected emotional kick leaves us with a smile on our face as we wipe away a tear or two.

showing with INSIDE OUT • 19.Jul.15

Weird Love   4/5  
dir-scr Greg Keith
with Noof Ousellam, Charley Willow, Luca Zizzari, Imogen Vinden-North, Asha Reid, Leo Elso, Hannah West
14/UK 19m
willow and ousellam

weird love Stylish, bold and full of attitude, this surreal short film explores issues of intimacy and connection, deep urges and needs. Aidan (Ousellam) is a lively, funny guy who has no trouble chatting up girls. But maintaining a relationship is clearly beyond him. Then he meets Solo (Willow), who has her own strict set of rules. She takes a bit longer to be seduced (he uses his drawings!), and afterwards Aidan's life turns into a waking nightmare, with all kinds of freaky goings on as he struggles to remember the truth. The film is sharply shot and edited, with a skilful use of music, sound and production design. And the plot has a strong sense of unpredictable momentum, turning both sexy and sinister as the plot becomes more suggestive and horrific. It's not easy to understand what's happening, but Ousellam's terrific performance adds an emotive centre to the film that makes the strangely violent imagery eerily involving.


Yoke Farm   4/5  
dir-scr Tim Keeling
with George Savvides, Luke McGibney, George Jovanovic, Julia Florimo, James Graeme, Andrei Ulle, Andrei Costin, Andrew Gruszka
14/UK 10m
Yoke Farm A mini-thriller, this darkly intriguing film touches on a big issue in a subtle, simple way. It centres on a corner shop owner Henry (Savvides) who buys free range eggs from Yoke Farm, run by a swarthy Eastern European Domas (McGibney), whose employee Jurgis (Jovanovic) tries to speak to Henry but doesn't speak enough English to communicate. As the days pass, Henry sees Jurgis in his shop and begins to realise something isn't right, which is confirmed when Jurgis writes the word "help" on a £10 note. Writer-director Keeling shoots the film in an intimate style, letting the actors say more with a glance than a line of dialog. A moody score adds atmosphere, as do some surprising back-story details the camera catches around the sets. This cleverly assembled, evocative film is a terrific calling card for Keeling as a filmmaker who knows how to tell a story without resorting to obvious cinematic cliches. He's definitely one to watch.


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Global Warming Global Warming
This collection of four shorts by Reid Waterer is a bit of a mixed bag, but all of them tackle issues of sexuality full-on, touching on big issues using generally silly encounters between a variety of men. And while some of the films are a bit corny, there's depth to them that makes them worth a look. Note that I reviewed the two best films in this collection (You Can't Curry Love and Performance Anxiety) at film festivals - links are below.
release 23.Feb.15 • 15/UK TLA 1h21       18 themes, language, nudity • 16.Feb.15
Daddy’s Big Girl   3/5  
dir Reid Waterer
scr Reid Waterer, Christopher Bradley
with Rakefet Abergel, Christopher Bradley, Adam Huss, Carl Petersen, Jason Medwin
08/US 17m
daddy's big girl At the centre of this brightly comical short, Millie (Abergel) is the overweight adult daughter of fit movie producer Cliff (Bradley). And she has a massive chip on her shoulder, rejecting her dad's assistance or advice, alienating everyone she meets and complaining about a lack of suitors as she refuses to join a dating site for guys who like large women. She even rejects the advances of a cute neighbour (Petersen) because he likes her size. In other words, she is the architect of her own misery, and the script never quite convinces us that we should like her. After whinging about not being able to pay her rent, borrowing money without paying it back, insulting her dad for trying to help and generally lazing around complaining about everything, she has an about-face when Cliff explains to her about his own journey from straight to gay. It's such a sudden turnabout that it feels utterly implausible. And this is also one of those contrived films that implies that only five people live in Los Angeles, because they're all far too coincidentally interconnected. Even so, the issue of sexuality and the depiction of a self-defeating attitude are both enough to make this worth a look.
Foreign Relations   3/5  
dir-scr Reid Waterer
with Kevin Grant Spencer, Anthem Moss, Orel De La Mota, Adam Huss, Danny Lopes, Alexis Radzvilowicz
14/US 25m
coumans and desbons

Foreign Relationsh With some nice comical touches and a steady stream of silly innuendo, this short is rather simplistic and corny as it plays around with issues of unspoken attraction. After a bad breakup, Tom (Spencer) is assigned a local Athens guy Nikos (Moss) as his roommate for a weeklong tour of the Adriatic. Not wanting to assume that Nikos is gay, Tom is further put off by Nikos' surly manner, drunken leeriness and references to his ex-wife. On the other hand, he kisses Tom to cheer him up, lounges around in a state of undress and gives Tom a speedo so he won't look out of place at a Santorini pool in his giant American shorts. It takes until the final days in Dubrovnik and Split for them to open up to each other. Broken into the various stops on the tour, the film has a choppy, episodic structure that's contrived and predictable. The cast is likeable, although Moss acts and sounds too American (even though he's actually Greek). And while writer-director Waterer indulges in lots of gratuitous bare-chested antics, he's oddly prudish about sexuality, including cutting away from any genuinely pointed conversations. So in the end it feels a bit shallow.

Also on

You Can't Curry Love Performance Anxiety
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© 2015 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall