Shortcake #15 – “Dr Easy”

Note to self: if I ever need to be reminded why I like Sci-Fi at all, I shall simply watch a short like that one – “Dr Easy”. It has been released a couple of days ago and its story is based on a chapter from an apparently fantastic novel “The Red Men” by Matthew De Abaitua. By the way, now that I have seen the short, I think it is vital for me to go and read the book. Why? Because, simply put, this might be the kind of sci-fi I love the most – the dirty kind.

While I enjoy any type of science-fiction, what “Dr Easy” has to offer is pushing just the right buttons for me. In short, it’s not so much of a story, but a sequence, in which a medical robot (Dr Easy) attends a crime scene of some sort where an armed man has barricaded himself in a house and the police has siege’d the building up. What Dr Easy tries to do is ensure the man comes out of it alive, by tending to his wounds and trying to calm him down, while the heavily armed SWAT units are just outside waiting to strike. And that’s pretty much it.

What the makers of “Dr Easy” are trying to accomplish here by presenting the world with this beautifully crafted short is to create enough buzz to get their full project funded. I don’t know, how this will pan out, but if they attracted attention of some major studios, we might see a proper feature adaptation of “The Red Men” in the cinemas. I, for one, cannot wait for it to happen, because both stylistically and in terms of story-telling, “Dr Easy” places the bar very high. The special effects are subtle and complement the story perfectly without overshadowing it. While the dialogue is sparse in the film, the whole story is suspenseful and compelling. Therefore, if the makers –once funded – deliver the full feature to the standard set by “Dr Easy”, we might have a blockbuster on our hands.

So, if you have 10 minutes to spare, give “Dr Easy” a go. It’s a lovely little Sci-Fi short that reminded me that the genre is still in good shape – alive and kicking. Let’s just hope “Dr Easy” becomes the full feature it deserves to be. If “Mama” could do it (see the short here and read my review of the feature here), I see no reason why this project would not get funded. Enjoy.

Shortcake #14 – “Fusion”

The evening is slowly drawing to a close and becomes a night and I’m sitting here in my new apartment… tired, but glad. With all my possessions still bagged, or boxed and evenly distributed all over the place I thought it was a good idea to whip out my laptop from underneath al the rubble and christen the apartment by writing a post… because why the hell not.Therefore, a nice short text was in order and I knew exactly what to write about.

A few days back I noticed on my facebook feed that my favourite kiwi film-makers have been up to something lately and I promptly decided to check it out. It’s been available online for little more than two weeks already, but in case you haven’t seen it yet, drop whatever it is you’re doing and watch “Fusion” – a fresh short from Sideways Productions, created by Allan George and Ben Fowler. Since I think I know what to expect from a guy like Allan, there was little debate whether “Fusion” would be any good. His “Sounds Perfect” still remains a short that I re-watch periodically for good fun and my spidey-sense kept telling me “Fusion” was going to blow me away. But I have to say that my expectations weren’t all that sky-high, because I didn’t want to build up myself up for the film not to live up to them, but I think I can now put my doubts to bed and say it once and for all – whatever these guys make is pure gold. Full stop.

 

There’s no discussion here – “Fusion” is a perfect 6.5 minutes of hilarious comedy that not only kept the style I loved so much from “Sounds perfect”, but came up with an outrageously humorous concept, and then ran with it. Seriously, I have no clue what’s going on in Allan’s mind at any given time and I’m a bit scared of the level of positive insanity resting in this guy’s head, but he knows comedy and has a grasp on film-making that can leave me lying on the floor (literally) laughing my behind off.

Now, “Fusion” is a concise story where – again in a pseudo-documentary style – we come across a disturbingly awkward fella, who invents things by taking two known things and merging them into a brand new hybrid thing; fusing the nation together… And that’s enough to make me wet myself. The superb acting and a ridiculous concept (how do you come up with these things anyway, Allan?) is more than enough here to create a short to remember. Need I say more? Of course, I could get into details of how I loved the cinematography (because I did) or the quirky protagonist, but the bottom line is – I haven’t had a laugh of that calibre in weeks now. I don’t exactly know what it is, but you guys make these films in a way that always gets me. Now, if you excuse me, I’ll go and hit the hay… In my bitchen…

Shortcake #13 – “Concrete”

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be granted one wish, a wish so powerful that regardless of what you think of, it would come true? Of course you have… Everybody has… When they were little, or just immature…

 

But seriously, imagine that somewhere out there there’s a box that opens only once every hundred years and in it you’ll find whatever you just wished for. And this is what “Concrete” is all about – a guy who is about to make his wish, but is brutally interrupted by a nosy cleaning lady. I don’t know about you, but I had a good laugh watching it. It’s nice and short, very compact even. The film in itself is very professionally shot, but that doesn’t really matter because the whole 6 minutes you’ll be thinking of what is in the box (every time I write or say the phrase ‘what’s in the box’, I say it in my head in Brad Pitt’s voice…). Because, of course, the wish-granting box is most likely a kind of a scumbag; you don’t really have to make a wish to get it to work, you need to think of something… concrete…

“Concrete” is actually not a stand-alone picture (well, it is per se), but a part of “Imagination” series and I will make sure to go through them all. Anyway, before I did, I just wanted to write a couple of words about “Concrete” , because it was just so good. And also because the whole time I kept thinking about a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man…

staypuft

In summary, I have to tip my hat to Daniel Benmayor who directed this little film, because it just made my morning and hopefully the whole day. Well done, sir!

Shortcake #8 – “Run” and “A Handful of Pennies”

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy… That’s pretty much been the theme of my week and maybe that’s why the theme of tonight’s Shortcake is rather grim. I decided to highlight two short films today, both of which are of the shocking kind. Because of their nature I don’t think I should go into details of their respective stories – I simply think that the shock and surprise factors are most important for films like that.

 

The first short of the day is called “Run”. It’s a compact 7-minute long story of Sam – an American by accent – who travels through Europe like young Americans do, and writes a letter to his mother from the road. I can’t say more than that, but I wanted to say that this short film really messed with my brain. Since, I believe, that was the premise of “Run” – to make you feel uneasy and disturbed – I want to congratulate Mat Johns on a job well done. He single-handedly directed, shot and edited the entirety of this film, which might be what is responsible for the very personal and discomforting feel “Run” imposes on a viewer. In short, this film is a bite-sized piece of Park Chan-Wook-approved painful cinema.

 

The remaining entry in today’s Shortcake is going to be “A handful of pennies” directed by a duo of E.E. Charlton-Trujillo and Josh Flowers, and written by Michael Peake. Briefly speaking, this film is just a conversation. A conversation between a hunter and prey, wherein one party is determined to do whatever it takes to break the other party’s spirit. I’d say, in contrast to “Run” – even though they are both shocking and violent – “A handful of pennies” reminds me more of a sequence from a full-feature movie that has never been made. We don’t know where the characters come from… We don’t know who they are. The only thing we know is the reason for them sitting at the same table. As the story unfolds, the viewer is left in yearning for more. I would like to see how the characters resolved their issue and maybe that’s why this film does its job, because the remainder of the story can be written by your own imagination… whatever way you shall please…

That sums up this week’s instalment of Shortcake. You’ve got two films that revel in the shock and violence, but each of them holds their ground on its own. “Run” is more of a fleeting novella about keeping up appearances that quickly spins out into horror, whereas “A handful of pennies” is story of a psychotic guy who doesn’t like being played by anyone and has a weird personal relationship with Dr Pepper. Enjoy!

 

In the meantime, have some shortcake – “Black Metal”

It’s been a couple of days since I actually had time to sit down and type something. Between a job and a life things just sometimes don’t play the way one would wish, but hey. In turn I managed to have a think about what I might want to include into this little dollhouse of mine. So far, this blog has been solely a collection of my thoughts about films I saw and while I think this might be mostly what I’ll continue on doing, I would very much like to include certain things that would be recurring in nature and hence provide this blog with a sense of consistency (yes, columns, that’s what they’re called). Right, so between trying desperately to find time to watch “Life of Pi” before it shuffles off from the theatres, other important Oscar-related things that I really want to watch and then write about (“Zero Dark Thirty”, “Lincoln” and “Les Mis” say ‘hello’), my other piece that I’m to trying piece together (yup, that was intended) I think the next week will hopefully be super busy writing-wise. And on top of that, I really want to start this hopefully weekly thing where I would just highlight short films that I found really interesting.

BlackMetal_Poster2-691x1024

I didn’t plan on this in any way. The idea just dropped on me the other day when I read about “Black Metal” – a really good and honest short film that premiered at this year’s Sundance and is widely available on Youtube. It’s only ten minutes of your time and it is really worth seeing. I really think this very concise film touches on an important subject that is bludgeoned to death in the media, namely the music as an alleged inspiration for crime, violence or murder. Keep it in your pants though, no politics here. I don’t want to start a tirade on the subject nor do I think I’m qualified to do so at the moment. I just think that like every coin has two sides, this problem has a side that is rarely spoken of.

Just watch and think for yourselves, enjoy.