REVIEWS AND BLOG

Day of Reckoning

For a film that focuses on a tragedy, there is an underlying beauty here that truly transmits its glow in the finale. For a short film it packs quite the emotional punch in its conclusion, and delivers a strong message within its short running time.

Here we have an exceptional example of story-telling within a short time frame, and how best to use this medium given its restrictions. Despite exploring a delicate and complex issue, the film manages to keep its dialogue effective and sparse and uses its visuals and a belief in its audiences’ intelligence in order to tell the story. There is little exposition and the dialogue never feels forced or fake.

The lead actor does a fantastic job with minimal lines. His interactions with the young boy are touching, and his facial expressions tell the audience more than dialogue ever could. Fantastic acting and fantastic directing.

The team behind the film have managed to bring an air of charm and almost warmth to a topic that is riddled with fear, heartbreak and horrific memories for so many, and this is done with respect and understanding. A truly great accomplishment of a film.

Chronicles of Religious Persecution in China

Often, documentary style films lack drama and focus purely on providing facts. They consist of many face to face interviews with the potential occasional dramatization. However, here we have a documentary film that seeps intensity and drama from the outset.

This drama can in no small part be attributed to the narrator who injects passion and tension into his delivery. Given the controversial and dramatic topic it’s not surprising that injecting passion into it came so effectively from the narrator.

The narrators dialogue is provided against a backdrop of dramatisations. These are acted well and offer an excellent visual accompaniment to the voice over, giving the audience a much clearer idea of he seriousness and emotion that permeates the plot.

The film is fast paced, which is surprising and impressive given it’s construction. A film that focuses on a narrator often feels long and slow, yet here the dramatisations, music and topic make it feel much quicker. An impressive feat of direction and production.

The film offers an honest ad sometimes brutal look into a topic that isn’t well known, utilising effective storytelling and film techniques to create drama and tension throughout. A strong example of how to create an entertaining and engaging documentary film.

Rouge

Rouge runs through this film like lead through a pencil. Often when a specific colour is used throughout a film, especially when it is used as a tint for the entire image, it can feel cheap or unprofessional, yet here we see that it is used effectively and appropriately to enhance the atmosphere of the film. And that’s what this film oozes. Atmosphere.

Right from the beginning of the film there is a definite sense of intimacy and internalisation which holds the audience to the screen. There is minimal dialogue, which adds to the intrigue and mystery but also helps the audience to put the pieces together themselves and provide their own interpretation to what they are seeing. This in itself allows the audience a closer connection with the film.

Given the lack of dialogue, the performances are well delivered with the lead characters providing an intensity to their relationship purely through their physical interactions. This is heightened by the excellent use of music and sound editing. It all works together to create a spectacular atmosphere.

A strong film that utilises minimalism within its production and yet provides an intense and emotionally charged experience.

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.