REVIEWS AND BLOG

Vinaa (Question)

There are many potential ways to create a piece of film that will be relevant to people. One of these ways is the product of a strong personality that will attract the right team of expert people, compromise towards the vision and the tenacity needed to overcome the harshest moments of, in this case, the long and hard adventure that is filmmaking. This specific film has not come short of any of these traits that so many others before have lacked. This can bring failure very quickly, and only a very determined creator can see the finished work through the battle that is producing it, before the final cut.

That is why the value of this short is so big. A work of fiction that regular spectators actually want to see is almost always backed by huge wallets and big name producers without much useful content to communicate, but a piece like Vinaa, created from the heart, is definitely a win against big powerful companies. Nothing says ‘effort’ like the rough audio tracks and harsh lighting, cutting through the faces of the actors with the strength of a small star. Nothing says ‘determination’ like a determined group of friends getting together to produce a real flesh and blood piece of artistic interest, developed in their heads and in their hearts. Teamwork is what this industry needs – unending friendship and company, together with strength of heart.

However, a truly great piece often starts with a very well thought and planned script, and even if the hopes for an awesome film are big, it will be noticeable. Double checking facts, storyboarding, absorbing the work of the great artists of the genre will make a huge difference. Mere hours of light work and research on writing can elevate a regular script to levels one wouldn’t imagine. Because stories are not only meant to entertain or produce emotions, they also have the potential to teach many useful things to people of any age all over the world. This is why a more solid screenplay, with many of the elements Vinaa included in the story, can be more to an audience eager of surprises and knowledge than a regular short of the ‘photographs-of-people-talking’ kind.

Classic actor to actor chemistry is very noticeable and strong, producing a visible thread of friendship and trust that not even professional actors have sometimes. The actor direction, then, was probably easy, since the companionship of everyone involved in that side of the camera is palpable and gave very good results. The budget of 0 American Dollars is a very impressive feat achieved only by those with the most responsible and loyal collaborators, with the most amazing and supportive friends.

The life of a creator is not easy and they will experience many joyful ups and vicious downs. This has broken many filmmakers and their potential masterpieces, but as long as the Vinaa team stays together and focused on the goals, the path ahead can only bring pleasant and interesting things.

The Somnambulist

Themes frequently presented in all artistic adventures are once again visited with an uncommon main character and some very uncommon images. Most of the visuals on The Somnambulist seems to be designed as a tool to leave the viewer surprised and strangely fascinated, but never cross the line that will make them stand up and leave. Two or three minutes have passed and the spectator probably does not know what to expect but will not stop watching either. It is perfect time management playing tug of war with human attention: in a short like this one it is often very hard to find. Between being weirded out and attracted, The Somnambulist sneaks in and shows us we do not need to understand everything that is happening right away. Payoff will come, but enjoy this for now.

The creepy and deranged music track, only present as company to a woman and her apparent breakdown, makes The Somnambulist feel closer to everyday life. More often than not we find ourselves walking through life in complete silence with only noise and sounds of nature or man made metal creatures being the soundtrack to our day. Harmonies in everyday life tend to be disorganized and accidental, instead of having any decoration or aesthetification produced around it. Silence is more true to life than any orchestra playing their best piece.

The twist (although anything and everything can be a twist in such a creative piece), comes at the appropriate time: it’s a surprise, it’s a hit in the face of everyone. It is the fear of age and loss and maybe loneliness that everyone has felt or thought about at least once in their life. It’s a fantasy that can never be fulfilled, like flying with no help of devices. The human is not made to face certain situations, but fiction and creativity can be very useful in this sad game of ‘what if.’ Luckily, we can twist and turn this fertile material to our will, removing the blue parts (or maybe keeping them on purpose, that’s for prolific director Duane Michals to decide).

In a strange scene that comes right after another strange scene, the work of the main character is accurate and exactly what this short needed: a dose of something ordinary but unexpected. The sweetness and love with which the main character speaks, will make the viewer forget the time traveler vibes flowing from him and help anyone watching to feel his soul, to really see him. A tiny but kind voice, directed to a paternal figure can make most people relate in a very deep level. Being smaller than someone else is a frequent experience. The details of the chat will seem ordinary and probably familiar, but the characters are from a different world, a world of dreams and confessions. The dialogues seem a bit too simple, but they don’t stand out, helping the viewers see themselves easily in a situation as impossible as actual time travel. There’s huge merit in that.

The Pleasure of The Glove

Pleasure. Fantasy. Breaking boundaries. This film looks at them all in away that is unique and intriguing. The film borders on the ridiculous yet it’s pacing and construction give it a feel of something deeper. Something with more meaning than simply what is offered on the surface.

The film effectively uses something fairly ludicrous, a single black glove, to explore a concept that is complex and intricate. That of human fantasy and desire. Yet, despite this seemingly silly packaging the actual production is well articulated and well delivered.

This is enhanced by the fact that there is no dialogue within the film. It is pushed forwards via actions and atmosphere and tone developed via music and sound, as well as the obvious visuals. The team have effectively produced a film that is seductive and tense without using any words whatsoever, which is no mean feat.

The lead actor has an ability to give a performance that is hinged upon facial expressions and body language, and still produce a performance that is admirable and layered. This is aided by excellent direction and production quality.

Overall this film offers an intriguing insight into the human psyche with a strong lead performance and excellent standards of production.

Cowboys

Utterly ridiculous. That isn’t a negative, as it is in its ridiculousness that the film’s success lies. Not unlike something as quirky as The Mighty Boosh, this short celebrates its weirdness and utilises it to make something original and entertaining.

It plays out like a skit, a short sketch from a variety style show which is fairly obviously aimed at a younger, student type audience and it embraces that audience well. The two young male leads use physical comedy and childish silliness as their comedy stylings which work well in the context of the show.

This film knows what it is and makes no apologies for that. It’s stupid, and it loves it and that is what make sure it endearing to watch. It knows its basis is in fart humour and that’s fine, because it never tries to be anything else.

Both male leads to all out and that helps the audience let down barriers and embrace the silly. The two supporting actors offer a great juxtaposition with their deadpan expressions and cold line delivery.

The film is well directed and though seemingly simple, the editing and cinematography work well. Whilst this film may not be for everyone, a target audience will love it and whether it’s for you or not, there is no denying that the film is well made.

Film Review: Lilt

Pace is an important aspect to any film, and one that can make or break it’s effectiveness, however it is also something that can be played with and manipulated to create something unusual and intriguing. This is what we find with Lilt.

The film opens with dramatic orchestral music. Heavy and fast. Despite this the imagery and narrative we are offered is slow burner that focuses on relationships and interactions rather than what we may expect from the soundtrack. It’s a tricky tool to use, as it is all too easy for the soundtrack to juxtapose the narrative and cause it to jar, yet in this instance it works. It displays the female protagonists inner frustration and confusion whilst on the outside she is calm and sedate.

Imagery plays an important part within the film, and despite having minimal locations they are used to great effect. The background imagery of a dance class showing unified movements along with the art class studio interspersing the story with images of art being created offer an interesting contrast to the dialogue.

The dialogue is carefully constructed. Whilst not being believable in terms of everyday conversations, it’s flowing poetry make it suitable for this context. IT is well delivered and words appear to be chosen carefully to portray the point whilst remaining quite beautiful.

The film is simple in it’s construct, yet effective. It is well edited and directed which gives it a feeling of ease and simplicity whilst remaining intriguing and clever. An interesting film that explores the intricacies of relationships, especially those that are unrequited, and the effect that can have on an individual.

Film Review: The All American Don

Business and family often go together, either because they are truly one part of the other or because of the negative impact a business life can have over the home and the ones living in it. When the determination of the one doing the business is too big, a small crack can start dividing things, and end up huge as a rift that none of the parts will cross again until they die. Many famous families are also known because of these issues, and where there is money involved, the attacks can get a lot more dangerous. The problem is, these attacks are not often directed to other members of the family, but to oneself. Hurting myself I hurt the ones that love me. Drugs and broken promises can do that to a group of people, even if their love is deep as the ocean.

The hardships of the business life can bring a man down to his knees or make them fly over everyone else in the world. It is worth it, going through such a struggle, but not everyone can come out of it a victor. Many things have to be given up, many times children will be ignored, many times control will be lost, but the end goal, greatness, will be achieved no matter what. Don has to win, has to prevail even if his demons are mostly inside of him. Because life can come easy to those who work hard, but when one stops being a robot and gives in to unnecessary pleasures and desires of the body, being focused on the balance between family and business can become hell.

Not many people get to live this in their own home, business is common, but not the successful kind, and being together is the most important thing. But when the very core of it (the love and trust of the parents) starts to crack, the rest will fall fast and sure, like a jenga game between drunk friends. And if the sons of this broken love are older, get ready, because experience tends to show us it can get very The Godfather-y very quick. This reflection of the powerful family, led by a powerful man can seem strange to the rest of us, but it’s a real struggle that some in this world have to face.

Even if a story told about oneself is often enhanced, embiggened, and decorated, the life of Don Abraham is shown with every raw detail showcased with pride. Not many, even after a successful career, will be at peace with their own personal demons. A human with this kind of thirst needs to be comfortable with doing things others wouldn’t hesitate to condemn. Even the lowest lows make the highest highs worth it, and and as a spectator the result can only be inspiring. Not everyone will be willing to do what Don Abram Harris has done, but if they walk out of this short with a strong determination to succeed and find a place amongst the great ones, it will have been worth it.

Film Review: Yesterday’s Rain

LGBT themed projects are popular right now, and in the current political climates with such uncertainty it’s important to continue to see a strong much diversity within media a day possible. However, a flooding of films on the same topic can often produce overlap and repetition.

Here we see a film that has focused its efforts purely in its own story. No agenda or finger to ‘the man’. Even it’s locations are almost entirely enveloping giving the sense that the characters are in their own world. This clever details mirrors many young people’s journey through coming out, which can often feel completely isolating.

What is interesting about this film, and what works particularly well is the minimal dialogue. There is dialogue, but it isn’t the deep or meaningful dialogue you would expect. Instead, the real emotion and communication with the audience is embedded in the nuances of the protagonists body language. The silences in this film carry much more wieght of story than any of the dialogue and works as a visual representation of the internalisation of emotion that many of us went through during this time.

This film works particularly well for people who have been through this journey as it is very relatable in its storytelling. It is also very refreshing to see a female lead struggling to come out rather than the much more common male protagonist.

Well thought out and impressively constructed, the film uses clever techniques to portray its message in ways more than dialogue. With admirable performances from both leads, a beautifully constructed score and soundtrack, this film is a delight for viewers.