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|See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL | Last update 7.Jul.19
The Male Gaze: The Heat of the Night
Reviews by Rich Cline
release UK 12.Jul.19
19/UK NQV 1h29
There's a dark, almost torturous quality to most of the shorts in this collection, as each touches on the pain of isolation and the seemingly hopeless yearning for a connection that feels complete. Some of these are very heavy indeed, while others have a light undercurrent that brings the ideas home in a slightly more hopeful way. All are very well produced, shot and acted.
dir-scr Osama Chami, Enrique Gimeno
with Enrique Gimeno, Manuel Castillo, Michael Assie, Joe Busk
According to Mateo Segùn Mateo
Plunging right into the middle of a busy night, this freak-out fable is strikingly well shot and edited, and each scene overflows with clever, unexpected touches. After a night out, Mateo (Gimeno) and his boyfriend Marc (Assie) bring Luke (Busk) home to play, but things don't go as expected, and Mateo heads out on his own into the street. There he runs into Jon (Castillo) and offers to drive him home on his motorbike. Invited in, Mateo is fascinated by Jon's extensive insect collection. From here, Mateo's odyssey takes some offbeat twists and turns, as filmmakers Chami and Gimeno create a kind of Almodovar-meets-Cronenberg vibe. Intriguing ideas circle through each scene. And the film looks terrific, packing a lot of intense emotion into its scenes, each of which is played with striking realism by the cast. It's also darkly sexy, unnerving and eerily gripping.
dir-scr Moshe Rosenthal
with Ori Laiser, Omer Perelman, Kristof Steiner
This Israeli comedy-drama is "based on a true confession" that offers some wry insights into more adventurous sexuality. In a chatroom, an up-for-it German tourist (Steiner) arranges to meet two Israeli guys (Laiser and Perelman) who perhaps aren't quite sure about his adventurous sexual proclivities. The language barrier is a bit of a problem, but they dive in anyway for an encounter that probably isn't what they're into. Clearly feeling awkward, the couple tries to get into it, freaking each other out in the process. Each time the tourist asks them if they like it, they nod unconvincingly. The hilarious dialog includes a brief debate on the difference between a threesome and an orgy. Then a things escalate, there are micro-negotiations about what they'll do next and when it will be time to make a run for it. Rosenthal directs the film skilfully, avoiding explicit imagery while still making it clear what's happening. The setting is amusingly seedy, with a tiny paddling pool where the "action" takes place. But it's the combination of eagerness, curiosity and revulsion that flicker on the two young Israelis' faces that gives the film its witty kick.
dir-scr Valentina Chamorro
with Andreas La Chenardiere, Robert Noack, Therese Svensson, Mikael Lopez
Dark and rather insidious, this Swedish short is shot in deep colours with inky shadows and loaded interaction. Vincent (La Chenardiere) attends a campfire party in the woods with his friend Lo (Svensson). There he meets Gustav (Noack), who is very keen to hang out. But as they get to know each other, Vincent becomes reticent, frightened by a secret that could put anyone he dares to love in danger. As they lounge around Vincent's isolated lake house, he remains at arm's length. Hinting at Vincent's secret, the film opens with a scene of him rather extensively shaving himself for his night out, something he continues to do throughout the story. Otherwise, it remains deliberately vague from start to finish. That said, writer-director Chamorro keeps the pace slow and observant, which matches the somewhat gloomy visuals. Things liven up with hopeful glances and some earthy humour, so amid the solitary sadness, there's a glimmer of life that's eerily moving. But the overriding feeling is of pain.
dir-scr Anthony Schatteman
with Ezra Fieremans, Thomas Ryckewaert
Shot and edited like a colour-drenched feature film, this observant and rather elusive short is directed with quiet sensitivity by Shatteman, using a nice sense of light and colour to reveal the inner lives of the characters. It centres on Jasper (Fieremans), a 20-ish escort who is meeting the older Vincent (Ryckewaert) in a tacky hotel on Christmas. Their encounter goes as expected, and they begin talking to as they have a drink together, then order pizza. When Jasper discovers that Vincent has rented the room for three days, he begins to wonder what Vincent is up to. Fieremans makes Jasper's jaded attitude a little jarring, smartly underplayed to a variety of textures in his interaction with the somewhat tentative Vincent. Together they reveal Vincent's secret almost wordlessly. The resulting film is haunting and more than a little disturbing, touching on a big issue without ever speaking it out loud.
dir-scr Guido Verelst
with Steven van Watermeulen, Adams Mensah, Jean Furst
Earthy and darkly resonant, this Belgian drama takes on some big issues even as it taps into very real emotions. It centres on the lonely, middle-aged Tom (van Watermeulen), who spots 24-year-old Simon (Mensah) on a dating app. This offers an escape from the grim nights he spends at Antwerp's gay bars being pursued by guys he has no interest in. Simon turns out to be a smiley, nice-guy refugee from Cameroon. And they get on well, developing an emotional connection as they begin a relationship. Their interaction is charming and sexy, even when some surprises arise between them. And when this leads to some tension, the film takes a moving turn, revealing Simon's terrifying past even as Tom is already having serious doubts about their future. It's a powerfully edgy little drama, beautifully capturing the harsh realities of life for far too many people.
A L S O O N
The Heat of the Night
dir Eoin Maher
Reviewed at BFI Flare 2018
See also: SHADOWS FILM FESTIVAL
© 2019 by Rich Cline, Shadows
on the Wall
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