Archive for May, 2012

VIMEO Awards 2012: Ham Sandwich

Here we are for the last review on the contestants for the narrative short film category at the VIMEO Awards 2012.

You can find more information about this year’s VIMEO Awards clicking here. For the list of short films taking part in the narrative lineup, click here.

Our last reviewed short film is Ham Sandwich, by Dave Green:

The beginning is sharp, no credits. Our main character asking for a promotion. And being declined by his boss. Then he approaches the dumb hot secretary with some papers. She complains that they’re pink. Baxter approaches a room where his colleagues are eating some spaguetti. But they close the door at his face. Poor bastard.

Baxter looks out for a place to eat and Pappy’s Sandwich Shoppe gets his attention.   The place looks like a haunted butchery. A hunchback comes out of nowhere, behind the balcony. His smile is malicious. He offers a ham sandwich, Baxter agrees. He receives and leaves. The hunchback declares in a devilish tone “Be the wishes of your heart noble or damned be your soul”. Baxter seems not to hear.

— We’re 7 seconds earlier than usual. It’s 1:53. Pausing here to bring up some great thing about this film. Even as we don’t know the real PROBLEM we’re still locked in the ham sandwich’s mystic. That office scene takes 0:40 seconds, it’s like PERFECT. His boss takes advantage of him, the dumb blonde secretary is a bitch and the rest of the employees simply despise him. 40 seconds. Great character introduction. Besides that the way he works with the dumb blonde secretary stereotype is superb. The others 1:13 minutes are all about the mystery surrounding the sandwich. We know there’s something promising about it, we just don’t know what yet. This is enough to keep us tied.

Baxter gets back into the office, unwraps his sandwich, but before the first bite his boss storms in the room, complaining about him screwing around. The boss leaves the room with his coffee cup full. Baxter bites the sandwich and instantly the boss is back, using the same speech. It freaks our main character out! Suspicious, he gets another time and teleports back to the spaghetti room. And back to the bitchy secretary. Aware of his new power, he pulls the secretary from her chair and kisses her in the mouth. Before the slap comes right at his face, he bites the sandwich again and vanishes. Back to the first scene. He lights a match in the middle of his boss’ mumble jumble and fires his tie.

After that Baxter steals banks; steals a motorcycle from a badass guy, punching him in the face. And crashes at an old man, crossing the street on a wheelchair. Willing to avoid the aftermath, he gives another bite. Standing up in front of a drug dealer, to whom he asks to buy all the drugs.Baxter goes partying, travelling the decades of disco and rock until the Belle Epoque by biting his sandwich.

He finds the sandwich shoppe and confesses his issue to the vendor, but then a little hunchback kid shows up and Baxter puts him against the wall. Accusing him. Until his father points a shotgun at his face, ordering him to let go the boy. Under this situation, he bites the sandwich and travels back to the colonization, with a marshall punch-fighting an indian. He concludes that he must find a way for this sandwich to never exist. With an idea, he swallows the entire sandwich (what was left out of it, at least).

He goes back in time to find a man trying to create the perfect ham sandwich. He orders the food inventor to stop. “I’ve come from the future to stop you from making this sandwich” goes to the quote of the day awards. Our inventor then decides to call it sandwich, since it had no name so far. Baxter calls his attention again and is accused to be an intruder. The inventor picks up a sword and makes a move against Baxter, whom grabs the sandwich and puts it in the line of the slash. It cuts the sandwich in half. Which simply gave another great idea to the inventor, whom then slips in the ham and falls on his sword dying instantly. Baxter is immediately transported back to the office and he’s really happy with it. The secretary asks him to help her out and when he sees the reason is a fresh killed moose being dragged through the office. His boss with a chainsaw as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

— There are several reasons to enjoy Ham Sandwich, it’s a 6-minutes film with quick development, funny situations and quirky dialog. And you possibly know how hard it is to strike a decent comedy these days.

— Yet what i really want to talk about is the MAGICAL AMULET, an unknown object discovered by the main character which has super-hero powers, normally timespace travel. This is a resource i suggested in my article about location, illustrating with the short film Plot Device, by Seth Worley. Story-speaking, they’re almost the same film, as most timetravel magical amulet films are.

— You might already know that a story has at least 3 acts. Feature or short, three is the minimum and the standard. Really summarizing everything: first act is for introduction, second act is the journey and third act is the conclusion. In the first you’ll propose your problem, the second act is a long way through obstacles towards the goal and the third is the resolution.

— The trick with MAGICAL AMULET short films is that they introduce you to the core of the story (the amulet and its power) while complicating the plot. So it covers part of the first act while simultaneously developing the second act. This is a great solution at short films since it saves quite the time.

— And this is it :(

RATING: 8/10

Review’s schedule:

19/05: The Ghosts, by Eddie O’Keefe; (read)
20/05: Prologue, by Bradley W. Ragland; (read)
21/05: Webcam, by Zbros Productions; (read)
22/05: A Bitch, by Matthew Miller; (read)
23/05: Left Right, by Tom Willems; (read)
24/05: The Hive, by Blind Aura Pictures; (read)
25/05: Hooked, by Stuart Howe; (read)
26/05: Pothound, by Christopher Guiness; (read)
27/05: The Division of Gravity, by Rob Chiu; (read)
28/05: Blinky™, by Ruairi Robinson; (read)
29/05: Human Beings, by Jonathan Entwistle; (read)
30/05: Ham Sandwich, by Dave Green.

Advertisements

VIMEO Awards 2012: Human Beings

Here we are for another review on the contestants for the narrative short film category at the VIMEO Awards 2012.

You can find more information about this year’s VIMEO Awards clicking here. For the list of short films taking part in the narrative lineup, click here.

Our next-to-last reviewed short film is Human Beings, by Jonathan Entwistle:

A guy, dressed as a zebra, is called by a friend. The friend comes up all excited, wearing the same sort of costume, yet our first introduced Benny doesn’t seem thrilled. Benny shuts down the mockery and his friend reminds him that “she’ll be there”. They put their zebra masks and walk to the party.

It’s one hell of party and poor are the bastards responsible to clean it up. It’s crowded of people. Benny is left alone and he spots this girl, dressed as an unicorn. She notices him, smiles. But soon a guy dressed as a lion stands up and picks her by the hand. The friend comes back and asks Benny to follow him. Before going Benny sees a red-haired geek starring at him. The zebras take some drugs and the party turns in slow-motion to them.

— 2-minute mark, the costumes are charming and i’m starting to get used to the british accent, thank god. We don’t have much, however we do have the typical conflict: boy wants girl, but she already has a date. Hopefully the drug scene will come up for a better purpose later on, so as the red-headed girl. Shall we proceed?

The boys have some fun in the dance floor, the friends hooks up with a girl and she takes him someplace more private. Benny, left alone, wanders by the house corridors, away from the crowd. He finds a trio of animals, including the lion, smoking in a living room. They notice him and Benny keeps walking. He reaches for a cigarrete but catches sight of the unicorn girl. They get closer. She put his hood on his head. Scared, she sees the lion leaving the room, hides Benny around the corner.

— We’re beyond 5-minutes and not much happened. The mood is great, still things could have been told faster. Nevertheless, the lion possibly saw the zebra and if all goes well the following scenes will make it up for the slow introduction.

Benny wakes up inside a car in the middle of nowhere. One hell of a hangover. The red-haired girl looks him from outside. She runs away. Benny leaves the car. Lights a cigarrette. Finds his friend’s zebra costume hang between a couple sticks.  The red-hair advices him that she knows where they took his friend. Seems that the lion captured the friend, placing him as the zebra hitting on his girlfriend, the unicorn.

Benny stomps through the valley, looking after his friend. Until he notices skittles in the ground. And the unicorn girl selecting only the colors she likes, sit in a rock. They chat a bit, she comments that Scott, the lion, is a prick. She tells Benny she’s not actually Scott’s girlfriend. Yet, He must find Aaron (the friend). She knows a shortcut

— Phew! 9 minutes already. The twist is great, misplacing identities. Quite hard to use it in a short film, specially if you’re going for a different set up, is not like your main character was mistaken by a persona non grata, but the opposite. This is very good. Still, the scene with the crush in the middle of nowhere seems a bit precipitated. There wouldn’t be a problem meeting her at the same place Benny finds his friend.

As the couple walk by, several customized character cross them. They’re spot by a man dressed as gorilla. He runs away to warn the antagonists. Aaron is tied up in long pole, ready to be burnt as a witch. The lion is making a speech about how bold the zebra were to trespass into his territory. But now Benny is there. Aaron sees him, tells him to beat it. The lion is disappointed to see his girl with the zebra and throws gasoline at Aaron. Lights a cigarrette, ready to set the friend on fire. Benny tackles him to the ground. The crowd cracks up in laughter. The red-haired girl unties Aaron. Benny goes beside his unicorn. The lion is in the ground. Benny and Aaron leave, until the latter threatens the enemy and the rest of the lion’s pack pursuit them. The zebras run away.

— There are two bad things about Human Beings, which is a good short film.

— I can’t forgive the slow setup, you just can afford an introduction to consume half of your film length. That’s one of the reasons to dismiss an idea, despite how good it might be. If you can’t situate a problem quickly, it’s no good. It’s better to have a 5-minute film which sets up in the first minute than a 10-minute film that needs 5-minutes to do the blah blah blah.

— The forbidden relationship with the girl is part of the plot’s core, yet this film seems to prefer the tag of a buddy film. We’re not only expecting Benny to face Scott to save his friend, but to get the girl, since she’s the real prize, the objective. Still, after beating the lion, the girl comment about the tackle and that’s it. He likes her, whom is interested on him. SO WHY THE HELL CAN’T THEY ACTUALLY BE TOGETHER? You can’t develop an expectation and don’t follow it when your movie is over. The viewer should be satisfied completely. All dots must be connected.

— How to solve that? Just make the girl follow the guys and run with them. Why not? Thinking a little bit further, remember that i complaint about the meeting with the girl in the wild? The film doesn’t need the red-haired girl, just cut her out and place OUR girl warning Benny about his friend. Do that and remove the dyed red hair, you won’t miss her, believe me. The unicorn can do everything she does PLUS raising the intimacy with Benny.

RATING: 6/10

Review’s schedule:

19/05: The Ghosts, by Eddie O’Keefe; (read)
20/05: Prologue, by Bradley W. Ragland; (read)
21/05: Webcam, by Zbros Productions; (read)
22/05: A Bitch, by Matthew Miller; (read)
23/05: Left Right, by Tom Willems; (read)
24/05: The Hive, by Blind Aura Pictures; (read)
25/05: Hooked, by Stuart Howe; (read)
26/05: Pothound, by Christopher Guiness; (read)
27/05: The Division of Gravity, by Rob Chiu; (read)
28/05: Blinky™, by Ruairi Robinson; (read)
29/05: Human Beings, by Jonathan Entwistle;
30/05: Ham Sandwich, by Dave Green.

VIMEO Awards 2012: Blinky™

 

Here we are for another review on the contestants for the narrative short film category at the VIMEO Awards 2012.

You can find more information about this year’s VIMEO Awards clicking here. For the list of short films taking part in the narrative lineup, click here.

Tonight we’re reviewing Blinky™, by Ruairi Robinson:

A family fight in the background. Someone zapping the TV channels. A boy. We’re introduced to Blinky, a helper robot. The boy tells his parents that he knows what he wants for christmas. Afterwards, they turn Blinky on. The boy is excited for having his new robot. They happily play around. The boy throws bubbles at him. Plays frisbie. Blinky serves drinks to his parents. They play hide and seek. Cowboy. Blinky can’t catch the frisbie. The boy seems disappointed.

— 2-minute mark. We have one of the best introductions so far. It is possible to make a futuristic plot if you don’t relay in an entirely complex futuristic world, otherwise you spend too much time on explanations. Blinky goes straight to the point and we quickly spot the boy’s disenchantment with the robot.

Blinky is counting while the boy looks for a hideout. The kid spots their parents fighting once again. Blinky is carrying the store bags for the boy as they get back home. A humanoid robot, possibly more modern, passes by them. Blinky admires him. The boy is just jealous. When they start walking again, one of the bags rip and all the goods fall into the sidewalk. The boy simply moves on.

Blinky is counting again. A rain starts. “Ready or not. Here i come” claims him. The boy is cuddling his dog. “I found you” says the robot. “Would you like to play another game?” asks the robot. “Sure” says the kid. Blinky starts counting from 10000 and down in the rain. The boy stares at him. “Stop counting” demands the boy. Blinky stops. “Why did you stop counting?”  inquires the minor. Blinky offers to proceed. The kid also orders him to stay completely still for the next 24h. The robot restarts counting. The boy picks a bucket of paint and kicks it in front of Blinky. “I want you to clean this” he requests. Blinky obeys. “I told you not to move. I told you to not stop counting” affirms the boy, whom then blames Blinky for doing nothing about his parents constant arguments. In his anger speech, the boy suggests that Blinky should kill his parents, himself and everybody. The robot agrees with everything. “No problem. No problem. No problem”. Until it seems to break. The kid calls his mom. She comes up to check on Blinky and tells him to restart Blinky. She threats him that if he keeps doing this crap she’ll tell Blinky to serve him for dinner. The boy restarts it. Such a prick.

— 8-minute mark. This scene in the rain was quite long, i must admit. But seems so necessary. One of the biggest mistakes on short films is that the dialogues don’t rise, they simply pop up. Conversations go from one point to the other and most of the time the short films are merely illustrations of the outcome, as we could see clearly in the disaster i reviewed yesterday. Was this rain scene too long? Yes. Was it necessary? Hopefully. Was it well done? Certainly.

The boy can’t sleep. Blinky supports him, yet the boy gets rid of it. The boy brings his distrust towards the robot up to his parents. They believe that he just wants them to buy him a new one. The kid watches TV. Blinky comes up and asks if he would like to play another game. The boy throws his “tablet” at its head. A glass breaks in the ground. The boy orders him to clean it up. Blinky goes to the kitchen. He ends the countdown and comes up with an electric knife. “Ready or not, here i come”.

Dinner table. The parents and Blinky. The humans eat. “Do you like your meatballs?” asks Blinky. “Have you seen Alex?” queries the mom. Then Blinky informs that he cooked Alex and that they’re eating him.

The police arrives at the house. Blinky is cleaning up the blood. Some cops get inside. Blinky closes the door. Direct cut at him sawing someone else.

— This not a bad short altogether. There’s a lot to learn from the “rain scene”, as how conflict insert via dialog should rise instead of pop. It must ascend from a neutral level to a higher value. Conflict should be naturally input, not solely exposed.

— Another thing to learn from Blinky is on its misstep. After the rain scene, we have the bedroom scene, in which the boy can’t sleep, after that the kid tells his parents he doesn’t trust the robot. There’s a huge difference between being SICK of something and MISTRUST something. Sometimes you’re tired of your family, it doesn’t mean you mistrust it. The film makes the first point very clear, since the 2-minute mark, yet the bedroom scene should introduce us to the suspicion. even so it doesn’t, it only hits the same key that the boy is sick of his outdated toy. Another gratuitous scene on that same key is the “modern robot in the sidewalk” one. Being obsolete might be a reason to dislike Blinky, but by that moment we were aware that the boy was fed up with it, so there was no point into knocking in that door again. You’re doing a short film, don’t feed your viewer too much, make precise scenes that will inform everything you need and move on with your story. This film is not vague, it just seems to believe that when it repeats itself like that.

— Back to the failing mistrust scene, i must underline how important it is when writing a scene to have your objectives as writer crystal clear on your mind. And don’t be satisfied with the outcome at first. “Did i achieve my goal?”. “Is it the best way to do it?”. You should interrogate yourself all the time until you realize there’s nothing better to attain your objective.

RATING: 7/10

Review’s schedule:

19/05: The Ghosts, by Eddie O’Keefe; (read)
20/05: Prologue, by Bradley W. Ragland; (read)
21/05: Webcam, by Zbros Productions; (read)
22/05: A Bitch, by Matthew Miller; (read)
23/05: Left Right, by Tom Willems; (read)
24/05: The Hive, by Blind Aura Pictures; (read)
25/05: Hooked, by Stuart Howe; (read)
26/05: Pothound, by Christopher Guiness; (read)
27/05: The Division of Gravity, by Rob Chiu; (read)
28/05: Blinky™, by Ruairi Robinson;
29/05: Human Beings, by Jonathan Entwistle;
30/05: Ham Sandwich, by Dave Green.

VIMEO Awards 2012: The Division of Gravity

Here we are for another review on the contestants for the narrative short film category at the VIMEO Awards 2012.

You can find more information about this year’s VIMEO Awards clicking here. For the list of short films taking part in the narrative lineup, click here.

We’re entering at our four last reviews, so i better start figuring out something else to post when this is over.

Tonight we’re reviewing The Division of Gravity, by Rob Chiu:

A woman. Her hair floats in the wind. A Michel de Montaigne quote. An unhappy man at the subway. Another quote. I can smell a bad film miles away and that’s how it usually starts. Thoughtful woman. Voice over speech about changes and differences over time. “Company doesn’t mean security”. “Kisses aren’t contracts”. Landscapes. Dandelions blowing. The depressed man. The depressed woman. They kiss. They cuddle. They sleep together. More gorgeous landscapes. “Because tomorrow is too uncertain to plans”.

— 2-minute mark and this film already managed to be everything i’d prefer to avoid in a short film. Wanna know what’s the biggest obstacle at an artist’s way? Brokenhearts. They blind the authors enough for them to turn into selfish beings. Self-centered enough for them to believe that they must tell this kind of story, although it being made a hundred times before. Mostly the same pathetic way. I could simply stop watching this film right now. I know the drill. Yet i’ll stick to it, hoping for a surprise by the end.

Together they decide what pictures to hang above the fireplace. In the future, the lonely man cries while bashing his head at the hanged frame. They lay down together in the floor. They’re just moving in into a new house. “After a while you’ll learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much”. They stick pictures in the wall, making a huge mural of all their moments and memories. They kiss in the beach. They travel. Seagulls flying in slow motion. “From every goodbye you learn”. She arrives home, but the guy is too busy to give her any attention. She gets angry because he has something to do. Man is working. The woman absents herself, cries alone in the bathroom. Her hair in the wind.

— 5 minutes, just how i predicted, this film is the same old story of a relationship breaking apart. Life is not all wine and roses after all. Just get over it. We’ve been into relationships and all of them struggle from time to time. But the really solid ones, those whom are definitely meant to be, go along. We, as human beings, also know that the tough days don’t concentrate into a single slice of a relationship, you can’t just pull it out as your second act. There are difficulties through the entire course of a romance. So, just get over it.

The woman is pissed off because he can’t appoint to a travel she scheduled for them to go together. They fight. Honestly, she’s a bitch. Still, both are really depressed in the aftermath. The man ruins the photograph mural. They break up. She leaves home. He begs for her to come back. “we will talk it over”. More landscapes. “And you learn and learn with every goodbye you learn”.

— This is not a sad story. This is a cliché story. However, this is a sad film. What’s new about this story? Why should you be filming this? Because you can’t stare at no place else than your belly button forming a lake out of your tears? Honestly, these people don’t need a camera, they need therapy. Keep the camera away from them! This film might be a scaping goat, but you reader better not come up with anything like this or you’ll have the same selection of words dedicated to yourself. If you wanna make a film with cheap quotes, poor lines, stock landscaps AND about relationships, make a god damn power point slideshow instead.

— Just don’t do it. Mend your broken heart by yourself.

RATING: 1/10

Review’s schedule:

19/05: The Ghosts, by Eddie O’Keefe; (read)
20/05: Prologue, by Bradley W. Ragland; (read)
21/05: Webcam, by Zbros Productions; (read)
22/05: A Bitch, by Matthew Miller; (read)
23/05: Left Right, by Tom Willems; (read)
24/05: The Hive, by Blind Aura Pictures; (read)
25/05: Hooked, by Stuart Howe; (read)
26/05: Pothound, by Christopher Guiness; (read)
27/05: The Division of Gravity, by Rob Chiu;
28/05: Blinky™, by Ruairi Robinson;
29/05: Human Beings, by Jonathan Entwistle;
30/05: Ham Sandwich, by Dave Green.

VIMEO Awards 2012: Pothound

Here we are for another review on the contestants for the narrative short film category at the VIMEO Awards 2012.

You can find more information about this year’s VIMEO Awards clicking here. For the list of short films taking part in the narrative lineup, click here.

Later than usual (or would this be earlier?) we’re on our eighth review and tonight’s film is Pothound, by Christopher Guinness.

Dog sniffing the gutter. Running in the streets. Snooping at a lady’s bag. Grabs something. The woman notices him and the dog runs away. Dog runs by the sidewalks. Smells the surroundings. Get into a pipeline. By the other end of it, finds a chinese restaurant. Knocks their trash can down at the alley and messes it all up. Seizes a bone. The restaurant’s employee spots him while leaving.

— Camera work is so fresh and the editing is superb. This film wouldn’t be half as good without those things. Nevertheless, all we know about our main character is that it is a frolic, somewhat tricksy, dog. We had these set pieces and nothing else. It’s great to build up a huge introduction of your character, Indiana Jones‘ rolling boulder, but you can’t spend 1/5 of your film into that. Actually, the sequence before the chinese restaurant was good enough, there we needed some plot, conflict, but got nothing.

Dog wanders by the Trinidad & Tobago streets, passes by a guy, sit in the sidewalk alongside his crutches. The dog leaves his bone for the man. Nice effort. Dog pursuits a dove. A crab. Explores the city. A teen is trying to mug a japanese boy’s backpack. The dog arrives. Barks at the burglar. And then they turn into anime stylish characters (?!) and start to fight. I won’t even describe this, sorry. The teen throws a bottle at the dog, whom dodges it and runs away. Back to the real world, the dog stills all cheerful while the teen is all beaten up, exhausted.

— These two scenes are still hitting on the same key as before, we’re almost at half film here. Now our dog is not only a naughty one, it has some dignity, ethos, gives food to the broken guy, helps kid being mugged. It’s a samaritan. But we still don’t have an adventure, something to cheer for him. It is just meandering around.

Dog walks around the traffic, sniffs a bit and gets into the back of the truck. As it gets in, someone closes it, locking the dog in. The vehicle drives away. A skateboard drops out, followed by the dog. AND THEN the dog skates down the road. A girl walks down the road with a galloon of water. The dog stops by and she plays with him. It follows her around until an older woman shows up and dismissed the animal. He runs away and finds the beach. Messes around the sand and finds some crows eating all turtle eggs, so he scares the hell out of the birds. A photographer captures the action and tries to get closer to our dog, but he runs away, into the sea, swimming all the way until the city. I’m surprised he’s not beating a shark in the way.

Dog is back in town and decides to return to the chinese restaurant, but this time the employee notices it earlier and chases him. The dog escapes but it is soon trapped on a stairway. The cook comes with a butcher knife, so things don’t look any good to our hero. The dog barks.

The cook is now frying some chinese food and serves some of it in a bowl. Title of the film comes up. Food was made out of it? Really? Of course not, afterwards a typical living room is shown, a chinese kid watches TV. A hand places the bowl in the floor and our hero shows up to eat his deserved meal.

— This is the story of a dog’s roundabout trails and its extraordinary actions. Part of the problem is that we don’t have much of a story, it’s all a collection of set pieces on the dog’s awesomeness. So it it kinda hard to review it under the narratie label as it barely has any. There’s no development, no complication, no stakes, no urgency, no lifechanging event, no story.

— Notwithstanding, we have a character, the problem is that after that anime sequence and the road-skating i may only conclude this pet is a superhero. And after that point there’s not much to add and the couple of sequences in the beach/sea sound redundant.

— The ending was not pleasant as well; if i put a chinese man cornering a dog with a butcher knife, the viewer will instantly cheer for the dog, you don’t even need development for it. Worst is that it is kinda clichéd. I’ve researched on countries that eat dog meat in order to find a reasoning in the ending. And according to Wikipedia, there’s no caribbean country in the list, yet i found an article from a trinidadian newspaper which enlightens the subject partially. Not that the chinee (people from chinese offspring born in Trinidad & Tobogo) eat dogs there, but the natives certainly mock them with “decades-old jokes about hiding your dogs when Chinese around”. So regionally this film certainly makes more sense than internationally. In addition, this is important since this film was made for the Trinidad and Tobogo Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Turns out this film is a much better campaign film than a purely narrative film simply because it actually is the first one.

— Regardless of the tobagonian culture, the conclusion is also not satisfying because the dog is a god damn superhero, he would simply beat the hell out of any chinese willing to make a stew out of it. Instead it barks. Yeah.

Now i better start our next review already so i don’t lose the track.

RATING: 5/10

Review’s schedule:

19/05: The Ghosts, by Eddie O’Keefe; (read)
20/05: Prologue, by Bradley W. Ragland; (read)
21/05: Webcam, by Zbros Productions; (read)
22/05: A Bitch, by Matthew Miller; (read)
23/05: Left Right, by Tom Willems; (read)
24/05: The Hive, by Blind Aura Pictures; (read)
25/05: Hooked, by Stuart Howe; (read)
26/05: Pothound, by Christopher Guiness;
27/05: The Division of Gravity, by Rob Chiu;
28/05: Blinky™, by Ruairi Robinson;
29/05: Human Beings, by Jonathan Entwistle;
30/05: Ham Sandwich, by Dave Green.

VIMEO Awards 2012: Hooked

Here we are for another review on the contestants for the narrative short film category at the VIMEO Awards 2012.

You can find more information about this year’s VIMEO Awards clicking here. For the list of short films taking part in the narrative lineup, click here.

We’re on our seventh review and tonight’s film is Hooked, by Stuart Howe.

Man wakes up, possibly high, by the presence of a woman, whom, astonished, slaps him in the face and declares they’re over. The man stares his dishes, as he wets the sponge under the flow and washes a cup. Memories from the woman at the beach across his mind. She swims. Back to the kitchen. He sits in a corner, paranoic with these flashes. Trembling. Mumbling.

— 2-minute mark. We had a good first scene, introducing us directly into a conflict. The aftermath so far seems bad: depressed guy doing housework and remembering the clichéd beach scenes. And he has a panic attack, over the top, perhaps?

Distracted, he plays with a tube, crayon or something like that, due to the noise. The woman arrives home with several bags, he moves towards her, stoned, steps on a tiny bag with something white in it. Seems like we have a cocaine addict. They dine some great meal and she happily chats with him. Shows concern and passion. We go back to when they first got into the house, was a surprise gift.

Another setup. He wakes up and she’s asleep next to him. He quickly stands up. She opens her eyes, aware of his departure. In the bathroom, he washes his face, gets his bag of coke and snorts some of it from his hand. The memories come back. She says that loves him in that happy beach. But she catches him in the bathroom and packs her bags. She’s gone.

Back to the meal, she worries about him, he says it is just a headache. She mocks him. They drink a toast. She prepares him a wrap, gives in his mouth. She  talks about the ocean, the beach, as being the best thing of going there. The memories return, stronger. Jaeseung freezes, in a silent despair. She holds him. Kisses him in comfort. He thanks her for coming back.

The answering machine takes a call for Jaeseung while he lays down desolated on his mattress, surrounded by garbage. Bachelor-style. Kok heard about the tragedy and consolates the friend. Promises to send him something good, that deals with sadness better than any medicine. Jaeseung gets his cocaine, snorts a trail as huge as those from Scorsese’s movies. Lays back at bed and the woman is standing beside him. He laughs hysterically and falls asleep. A wave hits the screen.

— This is somewhat interesting. First that this thing is fullfilled on cliches. Depressed guy. Beach happy remembrances. Hallucinations. You can’t get more cheap than this combo, probably.

— Second that we, as spectators, feel lost, because we can’t understand a damn thing until the ending. At least not the statement that this film seems to want to utter. Until the last two minutes all we have is a guy, whom lost his girlfriend and  drowns himself on cocaine. And if i cared more about butts being kicked i’d listen to Adele’s album.

— There are some annoying facts about this story. He was addicted on cocaine while she was with him, which is the reason why she left him. This shuts down the cocaine as a new mechanism to replace her, it was already there, maybe exercising a different function. In 10-minutes, you should make it as dramatic as possible.

— This is a good example on how not to use several time layers to tell your story. You should enlighten, not bewilder. Doing the latter and hitting the spectator with a twist only possible due to structure is cheap. The “surprise gift” scene tells us nothing interesting for the story and still includes another time layer to the narrative. You’re doing a short film, you can’t afford being gratuitous.

— Perhaps you may defend that the narrative makes the viewer lost on purpose, to place him under the skin of our main character. It’s a good call, i just don’t bite it. As i’ve said before, it should still have a better development overall. Structure films with a reliant twist are no more than fancy punch-lines.

RATING: 5/10

Review’s schedule:

19/05: The Ghosts, by Eddie O’Keefe; (read)
20/05: Prologue, by Bradley W. Ragland; (read)
21/05: Webcam, by Zbros Productions; (read)
22/05: A Bitch, by Matthew Miller; (read)
23/05: Left Right, by Tom Willems; (read)
24/05: The Hive, by Blind Aura Pictures; (read)
25/05: Hooked, by Stuart Howe;
26/05: Pothound, by Christopher Guiness;
27/05: The Division of Gravity, by Rob Chiu;
28/05: Blinky™, by Ruairi Robinson;
29/05: Human Beings, by Jonathan Entwistle;
30/05: Ham Sandwich, by Dave Green.

VIMEO Awards 2012: The Hive

Here we are for another review on the contestants for the narrative short film category at the VIMEO Awards 2012.

You can find more information about this year’s VIMEO Awards clicking here. For the list of short films taking part in the narrative lineup, click here.

Tonight’s short film is The Hive, by Blind Aura Pictures.

A man inside a car, counting money kept on a tinbox. Another car arrives from behind. He hides the box and leaves the car. “Where the fuck have you been?” he asks the second car’s driver whom tries to explain but is interrupted by some mumble i can’t understand for sure because of the accent. Nothing against british accent, it just makes it really hard for me the way it is spoken in the film. I know we have british readers, wouldn’t mind for you to list some of the dialogues.

Whatever. Seems like our main character received an assignment and a warning. Perhaps he’s on a drill he can’t get away. He puts a bag in the back of his car while the other man drives away. The man wakes up a boy, looks like a poor shed. He tells the boy to get back to sleep, but the young refuses. They have conflict, one line of dialogue each. Bit abrupt. The man leaves the shed.

— The main character is on warning, possibly at some dirty organization, has problems home, the film is setting up pretty quickly and this comment comes from before the 2-minute mark. Perhaps too briskly. Yet looks good so far.

He drives his van into a farm and apiary. Stops at the sign. Takes the bag given earlier and picks a bolt cutter, cuts the entrance gate’s chain. He turns back to his van and the boy is dressing a costume. The man demands that he takes it off. The boy possibly declines, but i can’t understand what he says. Nevertheless, the man changes his mind and helps the boy to dress the outfit: a full beekeeping protective suit. They get in the van and move close to the hive. The man got a suit himself. He picks something from the back of the van. There’s a house nearby, its owner wakes up. The boy leaves the van, both walk to the hives. While the boy gets disturbed by the bees flying around him, the man places pieces of foam at the hives’ holes, locking the bees inside. Meanwhile, the place owner is shaving calmly. One by one, they bring the full covered hives into the back of the van. The apiarist ties his boots and get his shotgun shells. The man helps the boy to load the next hive. They have a happy dialogue exchange until the man sees the apiarist coming at them with the shotgun aimed. He hits the hive and it falls on the ground, breaking apart. They get in the van and escape. The farmer is devastated.

— We’re around the seventh minute and i was missing some action, the farmer came up at the right time. So far this film is decent, just not outstanding.

While driving away the man brags about the future this theft opens for them, but the boy doesn’t look well. He takes away the veil from the suit and he was stung all over his face. The car is a mess and the man can’t find whatever he was looking for. The van returns to farm. The apiarist loads the shotgun. With the boy on his arms and the gun pointed to his face, the man pleads for help. The farmer checks the van for the car keys. The place is a mess. He asks for the man to follow him into the house. The farmer applies an injection in the boy. The farmer comments about when the man, a teen then, used to run around. The man’s name is Louis. He carries the boy to bed and takes off his shoes. The farmer brings biscuits and water.

— Good or bad, structurally this film is doing great. there’s an event popping up each 2-minutes. The robbery, the shooting, the getaway, the sick boy, the conflict  in returning, the past revelation. Great use of tools in order to get the film going.

The farmer requests Louis to put the hives back in place and repress him for the boy’s fate. Thoughtful, Louis does what he was told to. Gets a photograph, an even younger boy, from the back door, put it in the tincan box and leave it over the hives. He gets in the car and drives away, sorrowful. The farmer finds the tincan box; the money; the picture. Stares the road.

— This is our first straightforward linear narrative short film so far that does the job well. And we’re talking mostly about a character-driven script with outer motivation, which is just the category you wish to go. As i’ve said more than once, the hardest part about doing a character driven short film is that you have no time developing the characters, this left the film with a wishy-washy third act. Part of this issue resides in the first act, when the boy is introduced, that conflict weakens the ending because we must pass through a moment of reconciliation (carrying the hives) before creating a friendly bond between them. Those six minutes could give us more time to absorb the relationship and give further understanding of the film’s conclusion.

— The second act is solid, the burglary, the escape and specially the return. Going back to the farm is the real life changing event here and it is a solid core for the climax of the movie. It’s a life or death matter for Louis and he will face tough consequences by any means. It has urgency and stakes. If you weren’t attached to this story until now, i bet that when he took that veil off you did.

— The beginning of the third act initiate the undermining of the story. I feel that the direct conflict, the surrender for the boy’s sake could be pushed further, honestly, i haven’t realized what the farmer saw that made him change his mind when checking the car, but i should. There should be some strong motivation there. Subsequently, the past recall frustrates the ending. It was dispensable. What does that affect the ending? If we had a better relation between Louis and the boy (is his name Ben? I might have missed something), we wouldn’t need to hurry up so lately in the story and appeal to this kind of resource.

— By the conclusion, Louis realizes that “Ben” would do better of without him and goes away. It’s a good ending, solid, but the pathway until it is too misty. We can feel that Louis changed his mind, we just don’t know exactly why. Still, The Hive does a pretty decent job on its conditions and strives to deliver coherent characters, yet not fully satisfactory.

RATING: 7/10

Review’s schedule:

19/05: The Ghosts, by Eddie O’Keefe; (read)
20/05: Prologue, by Bradley W. Ragland; (read)
21/05: Webcam, by Zbros Productions; (read)
22/05: A Bitch, by Matthew Miller; (read)
23/05: Left Right, by Tom Willems; (read)
24/05: The Hive, by Blind Aura Pictures;
25/05: Hooked, by Stuart Howe;
26/05: Pothound, by Christopher Guiness;
27/05: The Division of Gravity, by Rob Chiu;
28/05: Blinky™, by Ruairi Robinson;
29/05: Human Beings, by Jonathan Entwistle;
30/05: Ham Sandwich, by Dave Green.

 



%d bloggers like this: