This post will be a short analysis of some short films that I have looked at over the past few weeks.
2:20 by Jason Wingard (VM Shorts Winner 2011, Peoples Choice VM Shorts 2010)
This years winner of the Virgin Media Shorts competition was given to 2:20. Over the course of the competition, this film stood out for me for a number of reasons. The first is that it’s beautifully shot and crafted with really good cinematography. The light’s and the dramatic music and sound effects go together well to give the viewer a sense of tension building up. The characters are well played and leave the viewer questioning why they are responding in certain ways. Technically, it’s done well. It has really good use of after effects to create the “minority report”-esque screen setting when the main character has the glasses on. The film leads up to the dramatic climax quite well, and we don’t really know what these glasses are until 3/4’s of the way through. I think the end sequence is well thought out, with the protagonist seeing his reflection in the window, then back to the “tramp” who started the whole film off and then the shot of the man going to be hit by the bus. It gives the viewer the “gasp” effect right at the end.
Looking further afield, this same story could actually be used for a longer feature film. The plot could effectively be the same, a protagonist with a pair of glasses that tells you when people are going to die. It has the same feeling to the film “In Time” staring Justin Timberlake (of which I am a big fan of the film).
Tune for Two by Primodrom Productions
Over the past year, this short film has been getting some very good attention for only good reasons. The film starts with a high pitched tone with a blurred visual look. It makes you feel “what’s going on”. But what really hits you is how well it is shot. Again, the colour spec of the film stands out, it’s vibrant and the location really stands out. The narrative is a bit of a blur, you obviously understand that the person who is going to be killed has done something wrong, but you don’t really know why he is there. The acting and make up is really good, you get the sense that the character is in some kind of desperation. Then, the comedic element of the film starts. The protagonist starts to sing the popular “Mah Na Mah Na” song (made famous by The Benny Hill Show and The Muppet Show) which immediatly makes the audience react. Then when the antagonist joins in, it makes a mockery of the situation of a murder taking place. I’ve shown this video to lots of people, and not one didn’t laugh when they started singing. I also like how the film ends. It doesn’t go with the standard cliche of the gun shot then fade to black. Instead, they continure the narrative with the protagonist being burried and the “Mah Na Mah Na” song playing in the background.
One particular part of the film that I don’t like is when they start to sing faster. The background sound completely disappears and it just loses it’s coherence for about 20 seconds. The whole way through the film, there is an echo in the background of the wind so it’s strange why they would look to reduce that sound during those parts. It would give it a bit more sense of scenery. However, it is one of my favourite short films and has some influences of one of my favourite film makers, Kitano Takeshi. Kitano loves using ‘dark comedy’. A sense of drama, but with funny elements to it. This film fits perfectly in this ‘genre’ and I’m looking forward to see what the Swedish Primodrom Productions will produce in the future.
Blind Luck by James Sieradzki (VM Shorts 2010 Shortlist)
This film was shortlisted for the VM Short 2010 competition and came 8th overall. Personally I feel that it should of placed a lot higher and got more appreciation. The film is about a blind man buying a scratch-card and asking the shop keeper whether he won. The film does affect the viewer quite deeply, especially when you see the end result. It makes you feel angry, sad and then makes you laugh right at the end. Any film that plays on them emotions in my opinion deserves plaudits, especially one that does it well. Visually, it’s not the most spectacular, but it doesn’t need that as the narrative and the relationship between the characters is strong. There is a slight lack of continuity but it doesn’t spoil the film, and I only noticed it on my 5th watch. The ‘punch-line’ right at the end makes the whole film and it’s structurally well made with a nice amount of tension in a short amount of time.