Take the Short Film Challenge [at the 10th Nevada City Film Festival]
The following 10 mini-reviews were pulled together from a four-part series published in the Thursday "Prospector" of The Union newspaper, leading up to the tenth Nevada City Film Festival. Two articles covered the short films below. The dates indicate the date of initial publication. The four part series also included a review of the feature length "My Musical Life" on July 29, 2010, and "Mars" on August 12, 2010.
Five on August 5, 2010:
“The Third Letter” (15): This futuristic story grounds you with inklings that the future is the same as it ever was. The mounting desperation in the film hinges on a makeshift battery stolen from a drab, repressive workplace. It hangs on a verification code and a phone conversation with a preschool aged daughter. Just hope none of our futures finds us in a bind like this one.
“Career Day” (13): A boy needs to shadow his mom at work for a grade school assignment. Mom doesn't want her son exposed to the nursing environment where she works. An impressionable boy discovers truth that often lives with lies. The hard and awkward and loving edge of this film realizes its short form well.
“Fluorescent Grey” (8): The title refers to the arty look of this short bedroom piece. It also refers somehow to this film's sense of humor, to the intimacy and romance in the awkward dance of a long standing relationship. To say it takes its time to get where it's going says something about the ambitious simplicity woven into eight minutes.
“Breaking Legs” (15): A scenario from a repressed society includes a filmmaking gimmick. Its subtitles move variously into place amidst the fearful and protective tone of the characters. Short films can more readily experiment than feature films, and there's a special opportunity to appreciate vision and creativity that perhaps doesn't work 100 percent.
“Waiting for the Train” (20): Toshio Hirano knows he'd be less of an attraction if he weren't a Japanese man performing country western music. This documentary satisfies well beyond the gimmick because it treats us to a man living his passion. As a boy in Japan, he first heard those (USA) country sounds. He traveled the US more than 30 years ago, checking out where those sounds came from. He's still traveling, still pickin' and a-singin'.
Five on August 19:
“Winner Best Short Film” (4): Winning “Best Short Film” at the Sundance Film Festival can be a ticket to a Hollyweird opportunity to direct a feature film with A-list talent.“Winner, Best Short Film” pushes the envelope of such a dream ambition. Sidle up to the genius of not just “any kind of moron” but a “moron with passion.”This is a hilarious send up.
“One Square Mile of Earth” (11): A menagerie fills a bar scene.A frog and a rabbit bicker. “Get some style,” chides the frog. The rabbit, an artist, feels safe and validated in his unstylish turtleneck. A bear and a mountain goat engage in pickup banter. Insightful, empty exchanges surround indecisiveness over what kind of vodka to order.There’s lots more. The look and the talk in this animated short is creative and clever – a faux hip riff.
“Death Row Diet” (4): This absurdly clever little piece seems random.Actually, it’s rather laser-like in a scene between a prisoner in his cell with his lawyer.It seems that the convicted murderer is more concerned with being overweight than he is with his impending execution. Tough case, but funny.
“El Ataque de los robots de nebulosa-5” (6): You probably don’t need to know Spanish to figure out that this international entry is a sci-fi nerd short.Probably not as trippy as it thinks it is, its primitive and scratchy cinematic tone is likely to seep chucklesomely into a subset of festival-going heads.
“Doc Ellis & the LSD No-No” (5): Maybe this film was made just because a “No-No” means something besides “something you should not do.”It’s also baseball jargon for pitching a no-hitter.During his solid career for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Ellis accomplished this feat.Reportedly, he did so while tripping on LSD.Never heard of Doc Ellis?Not into obscure baseball reminiscences?Regardless, this quickie film is creative, fun, and entertaining.