Dennis, an amateur Sammy Davis, Jr. impersonator (Eddie Rouse), is hired by a local woman (Margie Beegle) for a special gig: a private performance for her bedridden, middle-aged son Brandon (Steve Little). The family house is a creepy scene, cluttered and a little too dark, rotting newspaper covering the windows, and Brandon …
Where the 2007 win for Once’s “Falling Slowly” offers perhaps the only high-profile Irish Oscar win since My Left Foot took two awards in 1990, the 2011 Live Action Short win for The Shore marked the culmination of the country’s consistent nomination success in the short film fields over the past several years, a trend started with Michael McDonagh’s 2006 win for Six Shooter. Indeed, it’s telling that one of the choices The Shore beat out was Pentecost, another Irish production. And the consistency of quality looks set to continue: the Toronto Irish Film Festival’s selection of state-supported shorts—whether via the Irish Film Board or Northern Ireland Screen—is a strong reminder of the fine little films the island is outputting.
Christopher Di Nunzio’s short film Under The Dark Wing is an exploration of the darker elements of faith and how they fit in to the criminal underworld. There is something supernatural about the young girl who enters the lives of two low level mafia thugs and forever alters the course of their lives. Sporting some nice cinematography and the boldness to tackle some cross genre storytelling, Under the Dark Wing has potential. Unfortunately it never quite reaches the level it needs to.
It’s clear immediately, when the bracketed word “Necronomica” appears over a typically illegible black metal band name, that Kyle Bogart’s short of the same name is out to undercut the absurd theatrics of that oh-so-serious subculture. Yet it’s never without its fair share of affection too: as silly as so many of these scenes may be, the ridiculous antics of band members Absu and Borknarg are as much a celebration of black metal’s theatrical side as they are a mockery.
It’s more than mere conjecture to make the leap from the pre-title scene of awkward discovery that opens A Little Bit Country to something wholly more serious; as off-handedly absurd as a mother discovering her son in the process of donning cowboy boots may be, there’s a non-specificity to the sequence that allows our imagination to take flight and insert our own experience instead. That’s the genial genius of this little film from Amy Coop: treating a silly subject with deadpan drama, it becomes about so much more than it seems.
Some of the best noir writing of all-time occurs in the short story format, which allows the tales to be taut and tight, and the language to be lurid and pulpy without going too far over the top. The grim cleverness of even the best noir patter can grate at feature length, so some of my favorite expressions of the form are laconic, short, to-the-point stories that exude mood and feeling. The short film The End of Pinky, like the short story it adapts, is a miracle of narrative economy. Every detail is essential, every moment crucial. There’s a weight to the proceedings made heavier by how little time is wasted. Everything is working toward the same goal. Everything is headed toward the inevitable end.
Food is far more than survival, it’s the social and cultural lifeblood that binds us to our loved ones and helps us connect with new acquaintances. In director Bruce Alcock’s short film Impromptu one of these situations quickly becomes another, and a quiet evening at home transforms into a raucous party at the drop of a hat. The film is a quick, harried journey through an evening where little goes as planned, with larger stakes that are only hinted at and an amiable vibe to much of the interactions.
Short film is a medium that encourages, often demands a strong stylistic approach. There is little time to delve into complexity, or to paint completely formed characters in a script, so the visual element becomes an exceedingly important component. A short film with an assured visual style is more likely to communicate the meaning it aims for without falling into the missteps that occasionally befall others in the medium (this is no less true for feature-length film, but easier to disguise when a script or performance has more room to grow). Gloria Victoria, a six minute surrealistic short, engages with the relationship between art and war, eschewing narrative entirely in favor of a barrage of images and a propulsive score.
Walking into a building I have visited countless times yesterday, I was greeted by a man who was a stranger to me, but seemed to recognize me. He was excited to see me and began spilling out details of his life and recollections from our previous conversation, one that I am reasonably certain never occurred. He got a lot of details about me right, but he also got a lot completely wrong, to the point I am reasonably certain he was looking for another guy with a beard entirely. Being the crazy person that I am, I played along with this conversation, accepting the truths about this self he thrust on me, and quickly extricated myself from the situation. It was a weird, alienating experience, but it was not one that is unique to me, and in fact, something quite like it happens all the time.
Stephen Broomer is an avant-garde filmmaker, film preservationist, teacher, and a member of the Loop Collective (a group of independent media artists that provides a public forum for integrating experimental film and video with other art forms). His films provoke questions and discussions on space, shapes, and time through the concept of superimposition.