REVIEWS AND BLOG

Film Review: Pierrot

Pierrot couldn’t be a more apt title for this film. The idea of a sad clown, a juxtaposition in one body. The idea that the mask on the outside hides something much different within. Here, we see that idea explored in more modern terms.

Whilst the film portrays itself as a simple film in terms of locations, music, dialogue and production, underneath it is actually an intricate and multi-layered exploration of the human psyche. An expedition into how not only do our masks hide our inner desires and emotions, but masks can also allow us to fulfil those desires and be someone we are too afraid to be without it.

The narrative is incredibly well constructed, with clever and minimal dialogue. What drives this film is the actions of its characters. Their interactions and reactions are what tell the story, rather than their speech. This in itself makes for a much more intense and thought provoking visual experience.

Whilst the production is low budget, this actually enhances the appeal of the film as it further highlights the plot devices that are used and the story itself. The use of music is underplayed yet effective, enhancing the emotion in each scene.

A beautifully constructed and executed film that subverts its own simplistic mask to reveal a detailed humanistic exploration.

Film Review: Between Seconds

Nothing is bound to keep a person awake and in a state of utter distraction like memories of lost love. Everything is a reminder: smells, clothing, texture, flavors, colors, and the most painful one, the self. Some disciplines, like music, end up becoming a part of a person more than any other companion can. The bad thing is, romantic relationships for many people can become the cornerstone of their life. That, with enough time, is definitely going to be a problem.

Characters like Adrian and Alicia are not uncommon. Age keeps trying to catch up, to defeat, and no critic is harder than oneself. Love and romance are hit hard by these factors, but as weak as they might be, a sudden surge of strength can overcome it anyday. These characters, led by a mysterious Bartender (maybe Cupid, maybe God) get a second chance at love, happiness and self-fulfillment. Even with sad stories behind them, art and empathy made them come back from a state of loss and lack of inspiration. Even being a very simple love story, Between Seconds knows how to teach about companionship and inspiration.

There was definitely someone caring about the visual aspect of the short. Jaenicke managed to create, in a careful pastiche of styles, a very vivid environment, tinted with the color of memories. Nostalgic where it needs to be, Between Seconds effortlessly takes the spectator to an abstract world, sad but hopeful, that everyone knows and everyone has visited. Living means suffering once or twice and the empathy of the viewers will be rewarded thoroughly at the end. If we are reflections of Alice and Adrian, there is hope for a happy life at the end of whichever tunnel we are stuck in. Memories, on the other hand, are represented sharp as knives, both visually and in the heart of the protagonist. Nothing can erase them, though. The past is a truth they must learn to live with instead of rejecting it like children. It is brave to move on.

In a piece so focused on music and musicians, it’s no wonder the soundtrack gives the perfect finishing touch. Even when tormented, Adrian’s music does not become wrathful, angry or out of tune. He can only transmit sadness and maybe tenderness, since fury arrives some time before misery. He has lost her, which, to the character of a romantic man means losing the most important part of himself. Musicians tend to be sensitive that way.

Time, even if it’s shown in a very literal way, is also used effectively as a dramatic tool. Pianos over silence, voices over silence, and the time these take to make the spectator understand and feel is not rushed. Slowness is encouraged and beautiful scenes can be accomplished when the filmmaker chooses to reduce the amount of useless information the viewer receives at any given time. The care with which the most sensitive moments of the short are stylized can submerge the viewer in memories that could be considered universal. Maybe the journey to the clock world is one that everybody needs to make.

Film Review: Short Story

The opening of this film perfectly introduces to the audience to the dull, indie melancholia that is weaved throughout the narrative. The emotion portrayed in that first image sets the audience up for the despair and darkness that is to come. This is, however, interspersed with juxtaposing fantasy imagery. The bright whites are in stark contrast to the rest of the film, bringing in a lightness and hope that permeates the dark.

The story is a touching and honest portrayal of the final moments of life. The memories of a life lived and the frustration and often desperation that comes with incapacity. The monotony and despair of those that are tasked with caring for those that are suffering, and the emptiness that is left when it is over.

The fact that the film makers were able to capture this so effectively in a film that is under eight minutes in duration is remarkable. The production quality is strong, and brings a rawness that only aids the storytelling. Well thought out and executed photography are complimented by a minimal soundtrack.

The performances within the film are a delight to watch. They utilise a fairly minimalistic script and focus on body language and physicality to promote the story and characters. Given the short duration of the film, this is achieved admirably.

The film provides a strong narrative with a seemingly simple plot that is driven by human emotion and experience. Strong production quality and performances make overall finished product a pleasure to watch.

Film Review: Shiver

Tension fills the air as this film opens onto its protagonist. An effective use of visuals and music convey the message that something isn’t right, that there is an underlying fracture, something eating away. A strong opening that brings up a number of questions that the audience want answering.

As the film moves on the tension grows within seemingly mundane surroundings. An interesting juxtaposition between narrative and location. Excellent cinemtography and editing result in a smooth flow between scenes that aids in the fluidity of the overall piece.

As the relationships and characters become more evident it becomes clear the film looks athopes, dreams, friendships and love. The writers and production team build a world almost in isolation where the characters fight to survive. Where the everyday places a huge strain on their relationships.

The performances are strong and character investment is easy because of this. Both actors and writers have worked well to bring to life well rounded and exciting characters that are both flawed and redeemable. The dialogue flows well and doesn’t feel contrite or forced.

The ending brings everything to a conclusion yet leaves enough open for interpretation that the audience leaves with intrigue. A well shot, well acted piece that proves short films can pack as big a narrative punch as a feature. Talented writing and beautiful cinematography bring together an atmospheric piece that will stay with you.

Film Review: War in Heels

There is nothing quite like a woman scorned, and here we see that played out in a humorous short film. We have all gone a little crazy after a break up, but stalking and potential kidnap is a little far for most, but not for this betrayed lady. As she plans a stake out with her friend litre does she know it is her friend who may be the one that has aused the friction. A twisting comedy that, whilst not breaking boundaries, as a delight to watch.

Simple yet effective comedic dialogue rule this piece as the single location focuses the audience on the characters. The head on camera angles along with minimal shots helps establish the central focus of the film. The writing is good and despite the short running time the characters are defined. They bounce off each other well and there is the chemistry that makes the audience believe in their friendship, which makes the final twist nice and juicy.

The film feels simplistic yet it a evidentially well developed and skilfully put totgether from a technical perspective. Cinemtography and editing are well executed and sound editing is completed so that there is minimal distraction from the dialogue and interaction between the two leads.

An easy and enjoyable short film that brings a smile to the face and a shock to the system with its twist. Oh, and I’m taking your pineapple.

Film Review: Factory 91

An audience generally speaking want to be grabbed by a film in the first five minutes. In a short film, this opportunity is even shorter, and therefore it is more difficult for a shorter film to take hold of an audience quickly. Here we see a film that does that. From the very first scene the audience are provided with questions that they want answers to. A bizarre situation that warrants investigation.

The steady, lethargic pace offers an eerie atmosphere that immediately engulfs the watcher. This atmospheric approach to the film holds true with the overall darkness of the subject matter as the audience are shown an insight into the darker side of growing up. An exploration into drug addiction, sibling rivalry and loneliness.

The lead character, a young female, has to circumnavigate a surreal set of circumstances whilst also dealing with her own issues. The film is a strong example of exploring the human condition and what it is to live, and to grow.

The visuals within the film are strong and the dull colours and sometimes stark mise-en-scène compliments the sometimes bare dialogue and ambience that the film provides. There is a strong emphasis on visuals which works well within the film.

The performances are all around strong. They compliment the feel of the film with many visually emphasised performances. A lack of outward emotion works well within the darkness of the film and results in the characters fitting into the films world perfectly.

The film is well edited with strong photography used throughout. The melancholia of the production stays with you after the film has finished, and this is in no small part due to the impressive use of music within the film which compliments the action and story perfectly.

Overall a well produced and executed dark drama that draws the audience in and holds them right up until the end.

Film Review: Vicious Minds Project

As the only combination of music video and short film the Festival has got this season, Vicious Minds Project makes a compelling case for one of the most interesting and less explored genres in this category. Perfect for a horror-filled short are the feelings of hate, revenge and broken trust. There are many great works of the genre from which a filmmaker can grab inspiration from, but one of the most loved in this day and age is the zombie movie. Mixing the demonic and satanic with these terrifying creatures is a great way to start a career in horror short production.

The overall visual style of the short is the kind of scary that doesn’t really scare the audience but leads you on, makes you want to watch more, know more and be part of the adventure. It is meant to be what brings you in rather that something that invades your nightmares, and at this it excels. The special effects make-up looks very professional, a great choice of staff since it is a very important part of the short, almost the sole visual element that brings the plot together. Costume design is also very synchronized with the whole script. The diversity of clothes and characters really gives life to the ‘who’s next?’ statement, that suggests a possible sequel we are all waiting for. The location choice also helps create a very special atmosphere. Not only is it a specific part of the woods that looks particularly suffocating, but the feeling of being lost without hope of going back home follows, not only the main character, but the audience as well.

The inspiration taken from cinema is evident and appreciated, since horror is one of the genres with the most active and loving community in the whole world of fandom. True love for demons, monsters, murderers, ghosts and zombies is shown in this short, a true homage to great ones like George Romero and Wes Craven. Mixing the disgusting goo and blood and dirt with the clean image of the main character at the beginning really makes you cringe at the idea of being that next victim they apparently want to add to their undead ranks. Religious imagery is also present in the form of a demonic nun, always a part of horror classic horror movie lore, with very successful examples like The Other Hell (1981) and the most recent The Conjuring 2 (2016).

Vicious Mind Project found a very creative way to mix past and present: visuals of horror with dubstep-like music, made by Sinima Beats. Commonly used online by gamers and streamers, this is a music genre that had better days but keeps growing amongst the true fans on the internet. Every year it gets more professional and mainstream music keeps borrowing some of its most defining elements (which is a small victory in itself even though not everyone would agree). If Vicious Minds Project could become a longer short with a thicker plot, it would be the perfect balance of music and narrative, but as a standalone music video (by a first-time filmmaker) it definitely shows huge potential.