FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #56 – “The Equalizer” (dir. Antoine Fuqua)

Poster for "The Equalizer"

This week on the podcast, Glenn and Daniel witness the reunion of Denzel Washington with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua – as well as a return to general badassdom – in The Equalizer. This will be the second film in as many weeks we end up comparing to Taken, and this time, it may not be to the film’s advantage (28:52).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 5.5 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode is “Sixteen” by The Heavy, from the film’s soundtrack.
  • The Philadelphia diner painting we referred to is Nighthawks, by Edward Hopper.
  • We referred to the 2000 John Singleton film Shaft, starring Samuel L. Jackson. Check out a Showtime featurette here – gives a good sense of the film.
  • We discussed the slow-motion fights in the 2009 Guy Ritchie version of Sherlock Holmes – check that out here (slow-mo begins at about 1:30).
  • Brace yourself, because we’re about to get our CinemaSins on here. One of the various improvised weapons we see McCall use in the film is a powder-actuated nail gun – i.e. a nail gun that uses gunpowder as its mechanism of propulsion to shoot construction nails. We correctly noted that this is the equivalent of a 22-caliber bullet (in fact, in some cases, actual .22 Short cartridges – minus the bullets – are used to power the mechanism). We found several videos testing the lethality of nail guns at a distance, including one from Mythbusters, and another fairly robust (albeit windy) test from YouTuber pilgrimfarmer. While these videos definitively show that a nail gun powered by compressed air is not an effective distance weapon, we were unable to find a video that demonstrated the same limitation for a powder-actuated tool. And one consistent factor for any type of nail gun is that the safety catch prevents the gun from firing unless it is pressed against a surface – a mechanism that can be easily bypassed by the user, but doesn’t allow for the cool one-handed shooting that McCall pulls off in the film. Don’t try this at home, kids. We’re professional podcasters.
  • With apologies to Ronda Rousey – Glenn’s just not an MMA guy. But he knows who Gina Carano is!

Listen above, or download: The Equalizer (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

Advertisements

FilmWonk Podcast – Episode #55 – “A Walk Among the Tombstones” (dir. Scott Frank)

Poster for "A Walk Among the Tombstones"

This week on the podcast, Glenn and Daniel take a leisurely stroll through a pretty well-executed genre exercise by writer/director Scott Frank (The Lookout). (41:39).

May contain NSFW language.

FilmWonk rating: 7 out of 10

Show notes:

  • Music for tonight’s episode is Nouela‘s cover of “Black Hole Sun“, from the film’s trailer.
  • Joining us for this week’s episode is Seattle artist Jason B., who will happily sell you a delightful pop-art print (or a mug) of Daniel’s mug here. Check out his other artwork and blog over at Catastrophic Shift. "Office Crazed" by Jason Busse
  • The two detective characters that were name-dropped in the film were Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe (created by Raymond Chandler, whom we mistakenly mentioned instead).
  • The last (and only other) film in which we saw Brian “Astro” Bradley was Earth to Echocheck out our podcast review here.
  • We referred to a recent Cracked article about a convicted drug smuggler, now out of prison, who is now a professional speaker – that was this one, from Brian O’Dea. But we actually mixed in a detail from this article (from an anonymous writer), about how drug dealers are often not the people you expect.
  • We referred to the lackluster success rate of Alcoholics Anonymous – for reference, check out this NPR interview with Dr. Lance Dodes, who claims that AA’s success rate is as low as 5-10%.

Listen above, or download: A Walk Among the Tombstones (right-click, save as, or click/tap to play on a non-flash browser)

Seattle’s One-Reel Film Festival 2014 – Monday Roundup

SIFF Film Center projection room

The One-Reel Film Festival is part of Seattle’s renowned Bumbershoot music and arts festival. Throughout the weekend, I’ve had the opportunity to see short films from all over the world, some of which can be viewed online (I’ve included links below where applicable). The films were arranged into blocks of around an hour apiece, which I’ve arranged in presentation order below. Bold text means I enjoyed the film, and an asterisk (*) means it was my favorite film of that block. Skip to the bottom for a list of all the films that can be viewed online.

Click here for Saturday’s films
Click here for Sunday’s films


Best of SIFF 2014: Jury Award Winners

  1. Rhino Full Throttle (Director: Erik Schmitt, Germany, 15 minutes)

    A beautiful tale about temporary friendship amid wanderlust, the expectations we impose on those who pass through our lives on a transient basis, and how to express those feelings outside of Facebook. The main character is an artist (Tino Mewes) who uses the city of Berlin as his medium and muse, using cardboard and forced perspective to carve out a magical world straight out of the minds of Michel Gondry or Terry Gilliam. The in-camera visual construction and deconstruction are marvelous, even as he finds a partner in crime, Vicky (Marleen Lohse), with whom to construct his elaborate artwork. And he loves her, because of course he does – and then this film delivers a powerfully subtle message that no, the girl in your life doesn’t lose the power to make her own decisions just because you develop a crush on her. And the main character’s journey ends up spinning this dilemma into a beautiful tale of friendship and mutual acceptance – the idea that no matter where you go in the world, your friends will always be your friends unless you give them a serious reason not to be.

    Trailer here.

  2. Twaaga* (Director: Cedric Ido, Burkina Faso/France, 30 minutes)

    I don’t know Burkina Faso, but this short historical family drama acquainted me with a huge amount of detail in its brief runtime, projecting the uncertainty and weirdness of a post-revolutionary environment with remarkable skill. The secretiveness, the petty grievances settled under the auspices of revolutionary fervor, and the grand uncertainty about the future are put on display through the eyes of a young boy, Manu (Sabourou Bamogo), who desperately wants to be a superhero. The film’s title, Twaaga, means “Invincible”, and evokes a tribalistic ritual that we see at the film’s outset, designed to instill revolutionary fervor by imbuing the recipient with an ancestral and magical sense of invincibility. Manu sees his brother Albert (Harouna Ouedraogo) becoming anointed in this manner, and it melds seemlessly with his superheroic desire to navigate his own childhood perils and look after his family. Manu converses with the local comic merchant about the various parallels between the X-Men and the American civil rights movement, then dons a superhero costume to confront his local bullies on the soccer field. And all around the edges of this family, the revolution rages on. This is exactly how powerful, personal storytelling is done, and it has stayed with me since I saw it.

    More info and trailer here.

  3. Maikaru (Director: Amanda Harryman, USA, 7 minutes)

    Maikaru is a powerful, personal testament from a young man who grew up in Seattle’s underbelly as a victim of human trafficking. The vast majority of the film is shot up close and personal in Maikaru’s face, his piercing gaze heightened with a pair of stylistic contact lenses that make his pupils look like stars going nova. The contrast created by his upbeat persona, artistic endeavors, and positive outlook is overwhelming as he reveals one terrible thing after another that happened to him, his siblings, and his mother during his upbringing. This is not a pleasant film, but it is certainly an important one for me to properly understand my hometown of Seattle. The Greyhound bus station at 9th and Virginia, the colony of drug culture on Pike between 2nd and 3rd… These were the bedrooms of Maikaru’s childhood, as well as for countless others that I pass each day, whose stories I may never hear.

    Watch it here.


Down Under

  1. Thanks For the Ride (Director: Tenika Smith, Australia, 17 minutes)

    There’s one of these every year – a short with the narrative ambition and depth of character that it would’ve worked better as a feature film, and in this case, that is almost to the film’s detriment. From the hearse driver sitting at a funeral who clearly doesn’t give a damn, to the young man with a cast on his arm who “shouldn’t be here” (according to an angry man who chases him from the funeral), these characters (played by Simon Lyndon and Matt Callan) were instantly intriguing. The resulting short left me wanting another two acts to help fill out their unlikely friendship a bit more – a few of the emotional beats (including a bit of an improbable fistfight) happened just a bit too quickly. But the film’s every attempt at emotional resonance landed well thanks to Lyndon and Callan’s solid “lovable loser” performances, and all told, the film is well worth a look.

    Watch it online here.

  2. In Autumn (Director: Rosanna Scarcella, Australia, 15 minutes)
    Is “romantic dreadnaught” an appropriate name for a film about romance that evokes a persistent and deliberate sense of impending doom? This film was…utterly boring and macabre. And if its objective was to properly express the uncertainty and malaise of middle-aged romance… Here’s where I should dismissively say, “Bravo” and get on with my life, but this film hardly even deserves credit for that. Romance is hard at any age, until the moment it stops being so. For some people, this moment might be death. And this film earns no credit for a tedious slog in the service of such a banal observation.

    More info and trailer here.

  3. A Great Man (Director: Joshua Dawson, Australia, 17 minutes)
    There’s something rather powerful about two boys lying on the grass in small-town Australia debating the definition of a great man, as they stare up at the bright full moon – a celestial body which, at that exact moment in 1969, has two great men walking on it, as a nearby radio helpfully informs us. These boys engage in the sort of Stand By Me risky exploration emblematic of this time period (at least in cinema), including dares and dangerous stunts. There’s an axiom in population studies that males slightly outnumber females at birth, but by age 25 or so, it all evens out. Because boys, the axiom says, are more likely to do stupid things that will get themselves killed before they come of age. This axiom is likely not actually borne out by statistics (boys are more likely to be victims of violence, for instance), but it’s fair to say stunts and dares do inform society’s notions of greatness and masculinity to some degree. Great men do dangerous things, the story goes, sometimes for no reason whatsoever. And as these boys debate jumping from a 50-foot waterfall, the adult in me was certainly saying “hike to the bottom and check the depth first!”, even as the teen boy in me said I should go for it, or more likely, chicken out, get called a pussy, and get on with my day. This film captures something very real about boyhood, even if it’s just the legend of great men that we grow up with, and never fully realize in the real world.

    Trailer here.


Show Me The World

  1. The Queen (Director: Manuel Abramovich, Argentina, 19 minutes)
    After watching this film (a documentary?), I just hope there’s a teen beauty queen out there who’s doing it by choice. Because this film depicts an Argentinian carnival beauty (who is perhaps 10 years old) in a manner that is nothing short of child abuse. The film is told almost entirely through an extended close-up on the girl’s face, as frigid stage mothers dance around the periphery of the frame strapping a 10-pound rhinestone monstrosity to the top of her head. They thread zip-ties through her hair, offer lidocaine creams to numb her scalp, and eventually, just straight-up pills to pop (which she refuses, despite no longer being able to feel or move her head and neck). We hear about the various scars borne across the backs of these beauty queens by the end of their teenage years, even as we see them forming across this girl’s face. This film made its point effectively, even if I’m torn as to whether the mere act of making it was despicable.

    More info and trailer here.

  2. Mother Corn* (Director: Guillermo Lecuona, USA/Mexico, 16 minutes)
    If nothing else, this film demonstrates the sad truth that as any culture approaches extinction, it becomes, at best, a thing to be packaged and sold to tourists. This dilemma is addressed through a grandmother and granddaughter who struggle between their linguistic and cultural identity – Trique vs. Mexican. Infused with Pan’s Labyrinth style imagery, this film mingles the girl’s uncertainty with images of death, floating souls, and fantastical creatures.

    Trailer here.


Films4Adults #3

  1. The Man Who Knew a Lot* (Director: Alice Vial, France, 20 minutes)
    It’s the ugly truth of every specialized touristy shop that the knick-knacks contained within – the authentic Southwestern pottery, the deer antlers, the gargoyle statues – won’t look nearly as good on your apartment shelf as they do in a perfectly lit store surrounded by similar crap. They’re selling an image, not an object. And this film takes this idea to the nth degree by taking place inside a dystopian IKEA store called Paradesign. On the show floor, scenes of everyday life and household situations in various disembodied rooms are expertly staged, complete with human beings who spend all day – indeed, live their entire lives – sitting in the chair, laying on the bed, and so forth. An old man on the first floor, Mr. Beranger (André Penvern), teams up with a little girl (Naomi Biton) who was born on a €59.99 bassinet, both of them desperate to break free from Paradesign and find out what lies beyond. The result is somewhere between WALL-E and Dark City – an oppressively well-rendered piece of short science fiction.

    More info here.

  2. Deadbeat (Director: Danielle Morgan, USA, 12 minutes)
    Still a better love story than Twilight. This film acts as an unofficial sequel to the inexorable love story between a perpetually 17-year-old vampire (John Brodsky) and his now upper-30s human lover (Melissa D. Brown). Great fun made at the expense of a genre that richly deserves it.

    More info and trailer here.

  3. Syndromeda (Director: Patrik Eklund, Sweden, 22 minutes)
    A naked, bloodied man (Jacob Nordenson) is found wandering in the middle of nowhere. What ensues is a fascinating dramatic parable about how our minds deal with trauma and uncertainty. From its non-linear storytelling to outright confabulations on the part of the main character, this film depicts a man utterly perplexed about what has happened to him, filling in the details of ambiguous sensory input with his own culturally informed ideas. And the result is a smart, solid, visually stunning horror short.

    More info here, scene from the film here.

  4. The Fall (Director: Kristof Hoornaert, Belgium, 16 minutes)
    A couple debates what to do when they accidentally hit and kill a child in the middle of the woods. Because everyone knows the road less traveled is the easiest spot to dispose of a body. This film is beautifully shot, but existentially unpleasant. And that may have been the point, obliterating Eden with original sin and all that – but the experience wasn’t exactly enjoyable.

    More info and trailer here.

  5. We Wanted More (Director: Stephen Dunn, Canada, 16 minutes)
    Just add water for instant body and existential horror, as a singer (Christine Horne) loses her voice the night before a concert tour, and imagines it appearing before her in the form of a creepy child (Skyler Wexler). Her angst about her career is compounded by having just dumped her boyfriend (it’s implied, because he proposed). This is a simple, effective premise with stirringly disturbing imagery, bringing to mind the likes of Black Swan. And it turned out to be the perfect recipe for a personally high-stakes horror short that comes to a swift and pitch-perfect conclusion.

    Trailer here.




Quick List: All of the films that are available online:

Seattle’s One-Reel Film Festival 2014 – Sunday Roundup

SIFF Film Center projection room

The One-Reel Film Festival is part of Seattle’s renowned Bumbershoot music and arts festival. Throughout the weekend, I’ve had the opportunity to see short films from all over the world, some of which can be viewed online (I’ve included links below where applicable). The films were arranged into blocks of around an hour apiece, which I’ve arranged in presentation order below. Bold text means I enjoyed the film, and an asterisk (*) means it was my favorite film of that block. Skip to the bottom for a list of all the films that can be viewed online.

Click here for Saturday’s films
Click here for Monday’s films


 

Dance, Dance, Dance

Still from

  1. Bookin’ (Director: John Kirkscey, USA, 19 minutes)

    This film features two pairs of dancers exploring the evolution and future of a 30-year-old Memphis hip-hop dance style, gangster-walk, which has now become a much more refined style called “jookin'”, a beat-conscious fluid series of movements that much more closely resemble classical ballet to my untrained eye. There’s lots of standing on tip-toes (“getting on point”), smooth motions of toes and feet sliding along the floor, skillful spins, etc. The other pair, classical ballet dancers from New York, try to fuse jookin’ with ballet into a new style, which the group collectively dubs “Bookin’”. It’s a fascinating project, and we get some beautifully shot sequences of each style separately, but the biggest issue with this film was that I wanted more of the dancers together. It was perhaps a mistake to film this documentary entirely on the first day the dancers met, because they unfortunately acted like two pairs of strangers. They didn’t talk to each other much during the explanatory interstitial chats, and many of the choreographed dance sequences featured one dancer standing stock-still while the other performed. It was, to borrow one of their own lines, each dancer doing their own thing. The music (written by the director) is a fascinating blend of cello and hip-hop beats, and ultimately, the combined dance did come together pretty impressively. But I’m really not sure the dancers ever did.

    More info and trailer here.

  2. ME – Story of a Performance (Director: Jopsu Ramu, Finland/Japan/Estonia, 8 minutes)

    This is a fractured, self-indulgent mess of a dance film. The dancer (Johanna Nuutinen) can twist and writhe and contort her body into some very tricky and precise shapes, which would’ve been interesting to watch if the film weren’t so interested in showing off the various particle features in Adobe After Effects instead – or blurring and contrasting the white-clad dancer out of existence into the snow or fog of the background. This film is visually unpleasant to watch, and the music was constantly stopping and starting. The result can hardly be called dance, so much as a series of aborted and distracted maneuvers.

    More info and trailer here.

  3. Globe Trot (Director: Mitchell Rose, USA, 5 minutes)

    Reminiscent of the “Where the Hell is Matt” series, this video features a variety of different dancers (of all ages, races, sexes, and body types) performing the same choreographed dance around the world. All of the scenery is gorgeous and iconic (because of course it is), and there’s something exhilarating about watching one dancer begin a move in front of the Grand Canyon, and another complete it in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. This film was crowdsourced from 50 filmmakers around the world, so the variations in camera quality and cinematography style feel a bit odd – but this is a fun concept and execution nonetheless.

    More info, and watch the film here.

  4. Reflejos (Director: Jordan Jay Colvard/Carla María Negrete Martinez/Alisa Chanelle Dickinson, USA, 5 minutes)

    There’s something simultaneously aggressive, erotic, and sad on display in this film, with dancers shot in extreme closeup as they move around alternately in bed and in a park (Volunteer Park in Seattle?). A few of the movements feel reminiscent of “victim-control” stage combat techniques, with dancers grabbing each other by a scruff of hair, or with an arm around the torso, and the “victim” writhing back and forth from the simulated attack. And then the film would cut seamlessly back to a pair of women in their underwear precisely rolling around in a bedroom – together, then separately, and back again. The resulting message is not precise or coherent, but it is an undeniably fascinating performance, both in terms of choreography and cinematography.

    Watch it here (borderline NSFW).

  5. Beneath Our Own Immensity* (Director: Alia Swersky, USA, 10 minutes)

    Fascinating journey of a dance troupe under a complex series of freeway overpasses (seemingly, the north end of Seattle’s Ship Canal Bridge). The dancers begin as distinct entities, finding movement and performing complex stunts amid a field of hillside detritus – fencing sections, construction debris, etc. The music begins quite simply, relying heavily on the overhead rumble of traffic, then blends in other sounds – flowing water, billowing wind and dust, and eventually, the dancers seem to become one with the debris itself. They become mired in mud and dust, and their movements gradually begin to meld with the debris itself. A particularly intimate sequence features a man and woman hanging from a section of wooden fencing from various twists and contorted positions, then gradually sliding back down to earth, rolling over each other’s bodies, their movements always fluid and deliberate. And then the dance gets aggressive and loud as the ambient road and debris noise picks up. Exhilarating and well-shot.

    Watch it here.


 

Love…In the Afternoon

Still from

  1. The Crumb of It (Director: T.J. Misny, USA, 15 minutes)

    This film is beautifully acted, and deeply uncomfortable. A comedienne (Jocelin Donahue) and a pastry chef (Chioke Nassor) debate whether it’s possible to be in a relationship with someone who hates your greatest creative passion – he is tepid about her comedy, and she gets violently ill and terrified at the sight or taste of cake. There’s some deep insecurity (and, perhaps, manic depression) on display here, and the resulting relationship feels raw, intense, and authentic. This is part of a Kickstarter series of three shorts (titled Intimate Semaphores) intended to showcase female performers in meatier roles than mainstream projects tend to offer. This film did that in spades – Donahue’s performance is effective and deeply unnerving, and certainly made me curious to check out the others in the series.

    Watch it online here.

  2. Listening Is an Act of Love (Director: The Rauch Brothers, USA, 23 minutes)

    I’ll be blunt – I liked this film much more than I expected from the outset. It’s possible it spent too much time explaining the value of storytelling (literally as if to a child – the filmmaker’s nephew), when after years of exposure to This American Life, The Tobolowsky Files, and Risk!, I’m pretty well versed in that already. But I suppose I wasn’t the target audience for the first segment, and I’m sure some people have to be convinced of the project’s value. The film makes its pitch effectively before jumping into a series of deeply touching personal stories, rendered in the Rauch Brothers‘ Flintstones/Jetsons-cum-Flash style of animation.

    Watch it (and many other animated short stories) here.

  3. Life’s a Bitch* (Director: Francois Jaros, Canada (Québec), 6 minutes)

    A “romance procedural”, featuring a man dealing with the aftermath of a breakup. It hits many expected beats, but the storytelling method consists of shots that never exceed 1-2 seconds in length, and the result is a punctuated and highly amusing account of the next couple of months (or years?) of this man’s life (and, some might argue, downward romantic spiral). Quite charming.

    More info and subscription-based viewing here.


SIFF Fly Films 2014

This year, the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) challenged five local production companies to create a love letter to Seattle in a compilation affectionately titled, ‘Seattle, I Love You’.

  1. Sea Folk (Director: Morgan Henry and Josh Hayward, USA, 8 minutes)

    A loving non-narrative digital tribute to Seattle shipping and boating life – from the gorgeous opening drone (or helicopter?) shot of the city to the various individual boaters, to the “day-in-the-life” sequences aboard the SFD fire boat or the various Coast Guard cutters, as well as the passage of Puget Sound aboard the Washington State Ferries, each shot lovingly renders the unified aquatic world of Elliot Bay, Lake Union, and Puget Sound into something truly wondrous and otherworldly that completely envelops the city proper. The final shot, a first person view of one of Seattle’s vast car ferries returning to port, captures something so quintessentially Seattlelite – the grand feeling of knowing that you’ve seen true beauty and made it home.

    Watch it here.

  2. Fresh Pair (Director: Norma Straw, USA, 8 minutes)

    A mildly amusing look at running in Green Lake and the various weirdos you will encounter and eavesdrop on. These scenes felt just a bit too thoroughly staged, and the acting wasn’t great – the film never quite shakes the feeling that it is a Movie About Seattle rather than an actual story that happens to take place here.

    More info here.

  3. Open Mouth (Director: Randy Walker, USA, 8 minutes)

    Attempt #1: I wish I could properly evaluate this one, but the primary vocal track was not working. But the filmmakers, to their credit, gave a wonderful live rendition from their seats in the audience. Attempt #2: Success! A cute little family slice of life. The amusing awkwardness of old couples vs. teenage couples kissing is contrasted to great effect, even as a teenage boy improbably invites his parents along for his first date at the ice rink.

    Watch it here.

  4. Hannah & Otto (Director: Chris Volckmann, USA, 8 minutes)

    A cute Seattle love story – a pair of retail drones find themselves on a romantic collision course following a meet-cute in the bike lane. Well-shot, and a nice piano score.

    More info here.

  5. Secret* (Director: Tony Fulgham, USA, 8 minutes)

    Secret definitely shares some common themes with Open Mouth, in its contrast between older and younger couples, but is rendered as a drama rather than a family comedy. The various interactions between the older couple are almost entirely wordless, but reveal a level of comfort, both with their own lives, as well as their relationship, that is apparent in even cursory observation. They each have their own interests – he with his electronics and jazz, and she with her complex wire crafts – but they still enjoy a great many quiet moments together. This is contrasted sharply with the young lady next door, who is in an ailing long-term relationship with her live-in boyfriend of two years. When these unlikely neighbors finally meet, their interaction is brief and to the point, sharing a love of music and delivering some impressively subtle exposition about their respective levels of contentment with life. If the Seattle Freeze is a stereotype, this is a platonic ideal of the Friendly Seattleite. Then the old couple wordlessly squeezes hands in a quiet and comfortable moment, because for them, it’s just another nice day together.

    More info and trailer here (hey, this guy also directed the delightful SIFF 2014 trailer!).


Best of the Northwest

Still from

  1. The New West (Director: Peter Edlund, USA, 15 minutes)

    I love, love, love a noir detective story in a high school, and even as this film uses a familiar formula, it still feels aggressively modern and unpredictable. Like Straight Down Low below, this film borrows heavily from Brick, maintaining an entirely dramatic tone as it explores a dark and simple crime tale, well-told.

    More info here.

  2. The Bath* (Director: Mark Lundsten, USA, 25 minutes)

    Every tragedy is the same. And every tragedy is unique. In this depiction of a family dealing with an elderly woman (Kathleen Chalfant) with Alzheimer’s, every subtle touch feels completely authentic. Cheyenne Casebier‘s performance as Anna, the woman’s daughter, is especially strong, as she struggles in her simultaneous role as caregiver to a teenage daughter, and as guardian of her ailing parents. At its heart, this is a depiction of the inevitable end of Alzheimer’s, wherein its victims eventually have to leave home and receive professional care until their dying day.

    More info, trailer, and rent or purchase the film here (film is NSFW).

  3. Clarity (Director: Donald Saunderson, USA, 7 minutes)

    A man rides the train each day fantasizing about talking to a girl – indeed, imagines entire conversations with her (voiced over by the girl in question). The gradual, deepening sadness of this film is when it becomes apparent that the conversations are not flashforwards to a romance yet to come, but mere daydreams of a romance that will never be. There’s a fine line between having a “rich inner life” and being a dejected loner, and as the film pretty clearly spells out, that’s no way to live.

    More info here.


Films4Adults #2

  1. Aban + Khorshid (Director: Darwin Serink, USA, 13 minutes)

    This is a devastating story of a same-sex couple who is dragged off to death row in a country where their romance is illegal. The film cuts back and forth between the couple recording some sweet romantic banter on video, made even more heartbreaking after the first cut to their neighboring jail cells, as their every sweet moment on video is surely used as evidence for their conviction. This film ends exactly as it must, exactly as it still does in 7 countries even today, in 2014. The is a bit fantastical, in that it imagines that a country in which this couple’s love is a capital crime would permit that couple to comfort each other by sitting in neighboring prison cells before their execution. But even for its jailhouse confabulations that only the dead can truly bear witness to, this film speaks the truth. And it’s a story that must be told until its practice is lost to history.

    More info and trailer here.

  2. H7N3 (Director: Iris K. Shim, USA, 11 minutes)

    It may be that I spent the past week trying to destroy humanity with a designer malady in Plague Inc, but this film about a family dealing with a contagious little girl was a very effective drama for me, despite its seemingly played-out subject matter. A government doctor making house calls is already an alarmingly unfamiliar site, and C.S. Lee‘s strong performance as he struggles between his humanity and his professional obligations is a sight to see, especially after previously only seeing him as the goofy Vince Masuka on Dexter.

    More info and trailer here.

  3. White Night (Director: Sabrina Sarabi, Germany, 21 minutes)

    Fuck this movie, and its boring and ill-established pretense of wordless superior meaning in sexual humiliation and rape that springs forth inorganically out of a couple’s bedroom malaise. In the film’s final shot, the couple lies in bed not looking at each other, looking slight and pissed off. And that’s the one emotion I personally experienced by the film’s end.

    More info here.

  4. Straight Down Low* (Director: Zach Wechter, USA, 25 minutes)

    It’s a good sign for a short film’s worldbuilding chops when 5 minutes in, I’m not only on board with its Shakespearean-twinged, gangland premise, but I would happily watch an entire TV series based on it. I love a high school detective story, and Shamar Sanders‘ “The Student” is as instantly charming and captivating a detective character as Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Brick, or Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars. In fact, the film borrows a few character elements directly from Brick, even if its overall aesthetic is more like a higher-stakes, non-musical West Side Story. I’ll stop talking now so you can watch it.

    Watch it here (NSFW).

  5. EFFED! (Director: Renny Maslow, USA, 19 minutes)

    Another One-Reel, another refreshing new genre mashup. In this case, a post-apocalyptic buddy comedy featuring two guys riding a tandem bike in the middle of nowhere. Like Zombieland before it, this film has a very sweet and optimistic streak underneath its cynicism, finding great humor in the idea that people who rob and squabble with each other for resources in an anarchist wasteland can still, on occasion, be decent to each other. And it’s hilarious.

    Watch it here (NSFW).


Quick List: All of the films that are available online

A note on “NSFW”… Suffice to say, I saw a lot of films this weekend. The ones that I specifically remember containing adult content, I’ve marked as Not Safe For Work. However, outside of the “Films4Families” block, I can’t guarantee that the others will be entirely appropriate. Viewer discretion is advised.