Category Archives: Short Shorts
PLEASE PUNISH ME, is a super cute comedy about a guy getting his ass whipped. Yeah, I realize that the words “ass whipped” and “cute” aren’t typically used together but really, trust me on this one, guys. It’s the story of a businessman who is so overly blessed, that he seeks to be “punished” for his curse. Thus entering the “Punish Me Palace” in the above photo. Cute S&M, who knew?
PLEASE PUNISH ME is just under 15 minutes but it gets its job done well. The characters were more well-rounded than some I’ve seen in recent “features”, and while the film doesn’t necessarily take us anywhere new or special, that’s totally fine because you’ll be enjoying the ride nonetheless. The businessman is a fabulous character – love the actor (David Sackal, I believe) – who is just so miserably unhappy because of his neverending happiness. It’s a fun concept to play around with, for sure. Then there were the secondary characters of the “Punish Me Palace’s” receptionist and (I guess) head dominatrix (?), who were both equally funny and stole their scenes. You’ve also got some REALLY nice camera work going on here. I absolutely LOVED the closing shot of the businessman’s dominatrix laying her mask down on the bed. It doesn’t sound like much, I realize, but it was beautiful. And you can never go wrong with whippings. Just sayin’. ;)
Kudos to writer, Tom Paolino, and director, Chris Esper, on an incredibly well-made (and funny) short. Keep up the awesome work guys!
*Sorry guys, I’m trying, I promise!! I’ll be ’round to visit soon!*
You guys remember how much I love well made short films that truly hit their mark, right? (I’m only mentioning it every single time I watch a short so how could you forget? Ha!) Here we have MESSIAH, which tells the story of Courtney, who comes home on a seemingly normal day. Upon returning, she has a mysterious visitor peddling a religious organization. Courtney’s day turns on end when she involuntarily finds herself in the middle of a dark and sinister secret. Sounds kinda cool, huh? Yeah…no…
MESSIAH, unfortunately, is not one of those shorts I adore so much. Coming in at just under 10 minutes, nothing happens till halfway through (an attempt to set the atmosphere, I’m sure, but one shouldn’t need 3-5 minutes to do so). The last half moves quickly but makes no damn sense. Okay, girl being stalked by weird, random religious people makes sense because horror (no actual reason needed there). But the girl’s boyfriend is introduced and THAT’S what doesn’t make sense. He’s apparently off in Spain or something gallivanting about and just after Courtney has let mystery religious visitor into her home, he FaceTimes her or whatever. Flash to him tied up in a chair with someone holding his phone in front of him, forcing him to stick to a script – someone with a religious tattoo. Oh no! They got him too! But wait! He’s being brave and telling Courtney to run and get out of the house in the hopes of saving her. Yay! And then comes the end, when BF here – who’s still on the phone and still tied to a chair – apologizes to Courtney for what’s happening. WAIT? WHAT? HE’S part of this? Did he set this up? But if he set this up, then why the hell is he freaking tied to a chair and being forced to talk to her while some scary person stands over him? Why did he tell her to run and then go “oops, sorry, Courts”. WTF? What is he apologizing for and why does this short play it like he’s part of this whole religious kidnapping scheme when nothing else in the entire thing goes along with that? Ugh. Bored now. This seems more like a trailer than anything else and if this was the aforementioned secret then, well, I’m just disappointed.
Another thing is the “messiah” of the title. Titles don’t necessarily have to fit in with the theme of the movie but with the religious overtures here, it seems at first glance as though MESSIAH would be a good name – except who/what/when/where is this messiah? Is Courtney the messiah? Is her BF the messiah? Do they need Courtney to bring forth a messiah? Or maybe an Antichrist figure? Just why the hell do they need Courtney?? Is mysterious visitor the messiah since she’s going around kidnapping people and somehow this is going to save this religious organization? SO MANY QUESTIONS!! This is the type of film where I don’t actually consider it to be leaving an open ending so much as leaving it up to the watcher to tell themselves the ENTIRE story after having been given what amounts to a one sentence summation. Plots can leave questions and be open-ended and all of that and I’ll love them. But just do…THIS…and it comes across as lazy.
Things I DID enjoy: 1) the music was fun. Totes melodramatic in that over the top, cheesy kind of way but it fit and THAT set the atmosphere. 2) Rachel Langdon as the “Mysterious Visitor” – she creeped me the hell out so props to her! 3) the dog – yay puppies!…Yes, I do realize this is a short list.
MESSIAH very much comes off as a beginner’s first film (and according to the website it is kind of that as it’s director/producer Mark Grabianowski’s first step into the horror genre, and writer Justin McCoy’s writing debut). Go back and add to the story and make it, well, a STORY and I think this could be something worth watching, I do. Until then though, this girl at least doesn’t understand what the goal of this was meant to be. However, if YOU’D like to check out MESSIAH for yourself or learn more about it, visit them on Facebook or the MESSIAH website!
(Ugh, finally this week is over!! And so I present a review…)
Jaschar L Marktanner’s AUFDRUCK/LABEL (hailing from Germany) is a nifty little 4 minute film about two young women in their twenties who sit in a café and sip coffee out of way too small cups while smoking an unhealthy amount of cigarettes and talking about everything under the sun and beyond, like aliens. Pretty simple, yeah? And seriously it IS an unhealthy amount of cigarettes (says the former smoker). ;) It’s also so much more than that though.
These two are very “Ugh, life. Whatever.” women who have an absolutely fabulously random conversation about some “son of a bitch” (and the waiter, who is also a “son of a bitch”, and aliens, also “sons of a bitches”, and well, I think you get the picture) and who are just so immensely dismal and Debbie Downers (especially the one in the hat) that you don’t know whether to feel bad for them or just laugh. Which, honestly, isn’t even the point in the first place. As you’ve likely already figured out from the title, this is a film about labels given to us by other people and labels we give other people (“bastard” was also highly utilized here – interesting that the two main labels both dealt with aspects of one’s birth).
This girl was my fave. She’s the one that brought up aliens and showed much more contempt for everything in life than the other girl, which I enjoyed. This was Mary Krasnoperova’s first film role and I gotta give her props for making me laugh!
Ms. Anti-Blossom here was good too, just more decisive about her utter lack of interest in life, rather than full of contempt. More “yes, he IS a son of a bitch and the world does suck and blah, blah. Also, blast those aliens!” This was Kira Mathis’ first leading role so kudos to her too.
Overall, it’s a rather enjoyable (and odd – which only elevates it in my book) film about the asinine way the world works with it’s many familial, societal (and more) categories & labels dumped upon us. (Really when you actually think about it, all those little boxes we’re put into are similar to the structural architecture of Dante’s INFERNO, you know?…Yeah, I think too much sometimes…). Being chock full of cursing also gave it a plus in my book. ;) And the gorgeous aesthetics wrapped everything up neatly.
AUFDRUCK/LABEL is making the festival rounds right now but should it come out online anytime soon, give it a quick watch! For now, check out the IMDB!
Citizen ‘Caine comes to us courtesy of John Ervin, who also brought us The Tiki War (which you might remember me reviewing in Rogue Cinema a couple of issues back). While I enjoyed The Tiki War, unfortunately I did not enjoy Citizen ‘Caine. The film didn’t serve so much as a look at the grittier side of life as it did to a somewhat boring slice of life. While I don’t think the point of the film was to be grittily morose, one would think that diving into an exploration of the adult film industry and cocaine addiction would be dirtier and more interesting. Mostly though, I just kept wondering what point the film was trying to make exactly and that’s usually not a good sign…
Synopsis: Lou Phillips, a cocaine-addicted insurance salesman from Minnesota, confronts the seedy underbelly of Hollywood in search of his missing teenaged daughter. During his search he interrupts a shoot at LA’s Deep Horizons Studios, which specializes in home-maintenance videos that also serve as adult-entertainment films. In the process of confronting director Sir John Blunstone, his crew, and his biggest star Martha Sunset, Lou also confronts his addiction to cocaine.
See, that sounds kinda neat, right? And I liked Scott Carson as “Lou” A LOT…except for when he was in Hollywood. Those scenes he wasn’t as good in but it had more to do with the dialogue than him. Because there was simply too much extraneous dialogue floating about here. I’m guessing 7-10 minutes could’ve been cut from this 30 minute film and it would have still worked (possibly even better?). Simply removing the word “Ratan” from appearing so many times would have been an improvement.
What the film DID have going for it were the rare jokes sprinkled throughout. I did find the mixture of sex and appliances strangely amusing, as well as the several references to Nicolas Cage being the BEST ACTOR EVER. But as a whole? The acting made me wince…the dialogue went on and on…and the film just left me empty. It was a nice effort but one that didn’t really pay off. (And let’s face it, if you’re making a movie about people having sex with blenders, it should be fabulous, even if it’s just so BAD that it’s hilarious. But this was just BAD).
Now THIS was a short film I liked. Intriguing, compelling, mysterious with just an edge of chilling, “The Girl in the Woods” hit all my sweet spots. I’m fairly certain this was my first Turkish film experience and it definitely made a good impression. I’m interested to see more of what Turkey and writer/director, Tofiq Rzayev, have to offer.
The story is simple (and yet complex – multi-layered if you will). Ceren’s fiance is missing after a huge fight. They’ve been having some issues for awhile with him not wanting to settle on a wedding date but him just vanishing takes the cake. Except…did he vanish of his own free will? The only clue Ceren and their good friend, Mert, have to go on is a text that Mert received reading “Find me”. Hmmm…my, but that’s rather cryptic, eh? So what gives? Mert heads out to see if he can find Mr. Fiance but after several days all he’s managed to find is a mystery girl in the woods. He grows rather fond of talking and hanging out with her (cause ya know, you can always trust those mystery forest girls!…), which is cool because Girl in the Woods (no name cause that’s how she rolls) is kind of lonely and she’s had some major heartbreak and wants to be alone. But not alone (see?? What did I say about trusting those girls in the woods?? That is NOT normal behaviour!). However, what happens next causes a downward spiral that changes all of their lives in different ways.
First off, I liked the characters. They were well fleshed out for such a short film and believable. Ceren was ready to equally kill AND hug to death her fiance when he came back and the way she said that was so real. I found myself just as engaged with the actors (Deniz Aslim – Mert; Gizem Aybike Shahin – Ceren; Mehmet Samer – Cem; and Cevahir Cashgir as The Girl in the Woods). The story started as a “slice of life” mini-mystery but quickly became a beautiful and insightful look at mankind’s push and pull towards one another, so absolutely no complaints there. And Azerbaijan, the location where this was filmed, is absolutely lovely.
Really, the only complaint I had was that in some places the picture was a little fuzzy, if you know what I mean. Not so that you couldn’t see what was going on but just not very sharp in the way that home videos look fuzzy compared to movies in the cinema. Not a huge thing, just noticeable.
This is on my “Highly Recommended” list. There’s nothing better than a great short and nothing beats a fabulous foreign film (well, to me anyway!) so combining the two equals pure magic. Want to see why I think YOU should see it? You can get more reviews and info on IMDB. Hurry, go! There’s probably some mysterious girl waiting for you…
You guys know how I LOVE well-made short films, right? Like, I have a hard-on for that shit. Particularly thought-provoking ones that tackle difficult issues. Pink Moon is totally in that category. TOTES.
Pink Moon is the story of a boy and girl living in a society where heterosexuals are persecuted. As if having to hide their relationship wasn’t enough, the girl gets pregnant (oh, did I mention abortion is forbidden?). It’s a pretty simplistic description for a film that evokes such complex emotion. While the overly-obvious plot device of twisting certain civil rights issues on their heads might be cause for some initial concern, in reality you’ve got a relevant-to-us-all story that needs to be told.
And Pink Moon tells this story with a quiet kind of aplomb. It’s not overbearing in its story-telling, never heavy handed as it could have been in lesser hands than Sal Bardo’s. Brandon Tyler Harris and Cole Johnston as the teenage couple are breathtaking; their chemistry amazing and deeply affecting. The raw honesty here has the potential to shift viewpoints. Beautiful is really the best way to sum up watching this.
My only issue with the film was confusion on my part on how/why people can still have/are having children when heterosexuals aren’t meant to be together. Is it all accidental pregnancies? Insemination? Are there specified “breeders”? I realize there are different ways this could be done but the unclearness here, especially in the hospital scene, drug me out of the story for a moment. That was it though. Apparently a full length version of this movie is being made right now or in the near future (which I cannot WAIT to see!) so I’m hoping things are made a bit more clear in it.
My recommendation is that this be required viewing but since it’s a *free* world, I’ll just highly suggest it instead. ;) Links to the website are above and Facebook links are in the photos and the movie is online and free. Approximately 17 minutes can give you a helluva lot to ponder.
The latest issue of Rogue Cinema is here and you KNOW you’re dying to read it…so what are you waiting for? An engraved invitation?? Sorry, I don’t have any of those. I can give you a preview of the issue though! Inside this month, you’ll find great articles on awesome films like these (and TONS more)!
If you’ve been a reader of this site for awhile, then there are at least three things you know about me: 1) I love horror 2) I’m a pretty big and pretty dedicated fan of Jeremiah Kipp’s work and 3) I am a fan of Edgar Allan Poe. At least, I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned my love of Poe before (my memory is just the worst…). I started reading dear old Poe when I was 8 (not sure why my parents allowed that but hey, it gave me my first foray into horror lit and into the horror genre itself!) and “The Cask of Amontillado” was always my favorite. Something about being walled up for eternity just totally creeped me out (that 8 year old imagination probably came into wicked play there…). My friend, Jeremiah, has taken one of Poe’s short stories “Berenice” and turned into an deliciously creepy short film. It’s his little piece of the upcoming horror anthology Creepers, debuting on Blu-ray and VOD on October 7.
If you’re unfamiliar with the story, as I was (and thank goodness I didn’t read this one as a child, is all I gotta say), there once was a boy named Edward who had a lovely cousin named Berenice (names updated for our modern audience) who came to live with him and his parents. Edward (Thomas Mendolia) is a bit awkward and obsessive compulsive. He has to turn lamps on a certain number of times and tinkers with small mechanical parts at his desk, alone in his room. Social he is not. Then along comes Berenice (Cheryl Koski) who is everything Edward is not – sociable, graceful, roaming carelessly through life. Except there’s a catch. Isn’t there always? Berenice is ill, dreadfully ill, with a mysterious malaise that we, at best, know causes seizures. And then there’s Edward’s mother (Susan Adriensen), who while being a bit of a stiff actress, manages to be absolutely terrifying. I’ve no idea if she’s in love with her son or just extremely overprotective and overpowering but I would not cross that woman. Edward’s father (Bob Socci) is rather unassuming, although he too comes off as a bit stiff. Edward is eventually told that he must be the one to take care of Berenice as she worsens, which he seems to be fine with as he’s seemingly…charmed by her, shall we say? And from there, I’ll let you either watch the film or go hunt down the story because what happens next is at times gruesome and then creepy.
Is the film good? You betcha. Thomas and Cheryl both embody their characters in such a way that it’s almost painful to watch – which in this particular story is a good thing. I’m far from being squeamish but there were a couple of scenes here that made me squirm just a bit (although it has been a rather long time since I’ve watched anything other than a tv show binge on Netflix…maybe that’s why…). And the ending? It’s not even the ending actually; it’s just the last final shot that got me. *shudders* Pure cinematic horror goodness right there.
If you love Poe, if you’ve liked my reviews of Jeremiah’s other works, if you just like short horror films done well and if you like horror anthologies (cause I hear the other parts are pretty kickawesome as well!), then check out “Berenice” and Creepers on October 7th!