Thursday, September 22, 2011

Off To See Some Shorts: Atlantic Shorts 3 That Is

Short films are fun! Well, for the most part they’re fun. Sometimes they suck and it’s not fun. Like when you were a kid and you had to stay with grandma, that kind of not fun. Ok, enough digression. I hit up the Atlantic Shorts 3 and here’s what I saw (and also what I thought of them):

A Night Out
I knew I should have got the rights to this name when I thought of my breakout silent film starring Calvin from my film class (it was also called A Night Out if you haven’t caught my drift). Anyway, this short by local director Heather young is the story of a mom just trying to get out of the house for a single night to go see an old high school boyfriend. But in her way is her bratty daughter and her ugly mother. The grandmother and the daughter, both in their own ways, think up schemes to keep mommy home. In the end the mom is left with a choice: her family or her life. This video is a nice and funny look into the life of a single mother and the sacrifices she must make to keep a family happy. Kind of heartwarming and depressing at the same time; my kind of flick!

Ah, I finally get to watch a NSCAD short and see what those artsy kids have been up to. So what have they been up to? In short: lesbians. And not only lesbians, but teenage lesbians trying to find themselves. Do they find themselves? Yes. Do they find each other? Yes. Did this movie have a point to it? No. Well, maybe to show the frustrations of young lesbian love (much like the frustrations of young heterosexual love minus the blue balls). It was all shot pretty nicely in a forest setting (probably to accentuate the naturalness of being a teenage lesbian, I dunno) but the dialogue falls a bit flat and there isn’t much of a story. It was still worth a watch though.

The Slumber Party
I love comedy shorts when they work and this one works just dandy. It’s about a young girl who goes to a sleep over, gets totally hammered and pukes all over her blanket (ahhh to be 7 again). Her dad comes to get her and they end up in a kerfuffle with the owner of the house about some lost money. Well all heck breaks loose when a zucchini is handed over and a punch is thrown. I chuckled merrily throughout Mary Alice Corton’s short, and for that it gets my dim-witted approval.

Deep End
Running along with the nights theme I got to watch another short depicting youth and their struggles with homosexuality. So we got an older brother who’s gay and a younger brother who doesn’t want to accept it. Although it wasn’t clear at the beginning that they were brothers. I thought they were actually a couple with all gay imagery going on (especially the scene were the big brother squirts sunscreen all over his brothers back.) I honestly thought that it was a movie about a young man who happens to be a gay pedophile. It turns out I was wrong, but was left confused as to why the director led me to believe it in the first place. Anyway, the little brother goes on to accept his older brother and actually stands up for him at the end. Yay. This would have been a good short had I not been confused for half of it.

The Bike Ride
I don’t know what to think about this one. Un till the very end I thought it was a comedy. The imagery and music score certainly made the short seem like a comedy. But in the end it was fucking intensely serious. A kid, for reasons unknown, jumps on his bicycle and hits the open road. He drives so far that he actually has to stop at a playground (where the audience presumes was his primary destination) and eats a granola bar just so he can make the rest of his journey. His destination is his mom’s work place in town. Once he gets there shit gets real and we find out the boy, who we thought was going on a youthful romp down the road on his bike, was actually going to get help for his father who fell off a latter, in what I assume was a tragic painting related accident. I like this film because it led the audience to believe it was about one thing (comedy about a kid going to a playground) and turns it into something completely different (drama about a kid desperate for help). It makes the audience actually feel bad for the comedy it set up earlier when they realized what they were laughing at. Woah.

First Words
This one might be my favorite, It’s just so darn cute and kind of hits close to home. Caley Maclennan tells us the story of a father trying to teach his infant son French and the frustrations of doing it all in a primarily English environment. The mother realizes this frustration and decides to translate the baby’s favorite book into French using a labeler. Holy cute! It just made me happy. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I was brought up bi-lingual and share the frustration of not having translations of my favorite picture books. Man, those were hard times.

I’m 14 and I Hate the World
I’m 24 and I hate the world too; but not as much as the heroine in this film does. Her life goes topsy turvey when her perfect world falls apart due to her parent’s hilarious death. This short is a fun filled surreal look into the mind of a 14 year old and the tragedies she must face. I liked this one for a couple of reasons: one, the narrative moved along quickly and efficiently and two, the director obviously had fun doing it. And I’m all for fun when it comes to making shorts.
Forty-Five and Five
This was an odd entry. I think it was about a big sister helping out her little dork brother, who, from my understanding, has no friends. She lets him listen to a records in her room, but goddamnit, she won’t go set the table (or whatever the heck the kid came up to ask for in the first place). The film tries to hard to set up the poorly acted big sister as a badass with a heart of gold. It has a pretty cute ending, but that’s as far as it goes.

And yet another kid is flopped down into the complicated world of homosexuality in Flush, a short done by Megan Wennberg. Accompanying her parents to her late grandfather’s residence, a young girl (who doesn’t really know what’s going on) is put in the middle of a dispute of who gets grampy’s ashes: his gay lover or his daughter (the kids mother). Deciding to take matters into her own hands, and with a little bit of acquired knowledge from her parents and her “uncle,” the girl flushes him away to the ocean. The story hits home when the grandfathers partner is delighted with her decision, since he can see the ocean from his favorite bench, hence metaphorically, gets to look at his lost partner every time he looks out to sea. The parents go home with an empty urn and no one is the wiser. The innocence of this film is what makes it a winner. The film does a great job of showing us the simple logic of a small girl and the wonders it can sometimes create.

Kathy, directed by Mark O’brien, was an intriguing look into the life of the coolest girl in school seen through one of her follower’s eyes. It suffered from some technical issues regarding frame rates and horrendous ADR, something I have a hard time getting past. But under all that was a quirky little film about the perks of being a subordinate. I can’t really say it much about this film without telling the entire story so I’ll say this: it was neat.

And Overall
I had a good time watching these shorts. There were ups. There were downs. I was sort of disappointed when I realized every single film had an overall theme which I narrowed down to cute kids and confused teens who sometimes dealt with homosexual issues. A little variety wouldn’t have killed anyone but I guess I should have put 2 and 2 together by reading the descriptions of the films. Whatever. It was still enjoyable and left me looking forward to my next short film viewing.

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