Category Archives: Short Shorts
TW: Talk of Suicide
I love this film. I love everything about it. It’s an absolutely brilliant story about suicide (although as stated above definite trigger warnings if you’re currently depressed or feeling suicidal). Not everyone’s been there but a lot of us have – that point where you just want to give up on everything. It’s a scary point. But then, if you’re lucky, you’re able to pull yourself out of that deep, dark hole with the help of friends, family, therapy, meds, and mostly yourself. What happens when you can’t leave that place? What’s it like to have an addiction to suicide & death?
“Suicidal ideation: unusual preoccupation with suicide.” In Here Lies Joe, we meet two individuals at a Suicide Anonymous group – a group for individuals dealing with suicidal ideation. Joe is the new guy while Z is the manic-pixie dream girl of the group. Z writes her suicide notes in iambic pentameter instead of trying to NOT want to die; Joe just seems out of place and unsure of why he’s there or anywhere. The two seem to sense kindred souls in one another and Z manages to finagle a ride from the meeting with Joe. Instead of taking him to her home, she takes him to the cemetery instead, where they spend the afternoon. And later that night they spend hours on the phone together, bonding, each lost in their own way. What will morning bring?
As someone who has a mental illness of which suicidal ideation is a key symptom, this film really touched a chord. It was incredibly honest and open. The characters were real and tangible, relatable. Z says she wants to kill herself because she’s “an ugly thing in a beautiful world”, a statement which is so honest and heartrendingly easy to understand. This film is utterly beautiful. And while it is a film with dark elements and themes, they explore them with humor and pathos to arrive at the film’s ultimate message: hope.
While Dean Temple as “Joe” gives a wonderful and sturdy performance, it’s Andi Morrow as “Z” who steals the show (and your breath) away. Her performance is raw and something magical to behold.
I can’t recommend Here Lies Joe highly enough. Visit the film’s website to find out where you can catch it. And remember that there’s ALWAYS hope.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
After last week’s spot of “teamwork”, can the boys handle a bit of creativity?
What’s this? The webseries I co-wrote is FINALLY here? It premiered TODAY?? Indeed it is and indeed it did!
COUNSELING tells the tale of Matt and Tom, who seek the assistance of counselor, Dr. Robbins, in order to become more upstanding members of society. Does it go well? Does it go poorly? Do they become the most upstanding of upstandingest people ever? Well…as I say in my interview:
I really wanted to write two really awful people and make people really like them.
Take that as you will. 😉
So head on over and check out my interview, then watch the premiere episode of COUNSELING below! (RATED R for language and crass humor – aka E., I think you will like)
“No Woman” by Afghan directory, Yama Rauf, has got to be one of the most beautiful films under 3 minutes I’ve ever seen. Shot entirely in black and white, out in the desert, it shares a beautiful message about women leading women, women following in the footsteps of those who fought before them for equal rights, etc. Seriously. Under 3 minutes. It’s amazing.
A girl walks alone in the desert on a road that has a sign that indicates that no women are allowed. She reaches a person in the middle of the road with an evil looking mask, holding a gun. Clearly things aren’t going to end well…except she rips the mask off and keeps walking as the person weeps in the road behind her. Then comes the next day where a group of girls come to the same road, unsure of what to do. Then they see the mask floating in the wind.
There’s no dialogue so you’re free to get lost in the beauty of the music and scenery. I love it, without a doubt. Films like these that make you think and that are done in such an artistic way are a true treat.
Stand Up Guy is a short crime thriller featuring a mafia-like organization (or “Family”, as they’re referred to). With only a handful of characters, the film keeps things nice, neat and concise, which works well in it’s favor, and the script is fairly tight. Things flow quickly with the end being reached before you know it, which is a shame in my opinion, as I could definitely watch more of this world and these characters.
Stand Up Guy starts with a federal agent coming to speak with the head of a Family at his “recording studio” about ratting out other people, then turns to a man freshly out of prison who seems to have a need for revenge with said Family head. The rest of the film is mostly dedicated to Roman (just out of prison guy) and Angelo’s (Family head guy) confrontation, with a small interlude that was there to…I’m actually not entirely sure why it was there. To show us how Angelo operates his business? There were definitely a couple of places where it felt like scenes could have been cut without affecting the Roman/Angelo storyline but doing so would have also left the film incredibly shortened – so I guess those scenes were there as filler. The only other scene like this was the scene with the agent at the beginning. Not having that scene wouldn’t have changed the main plot at all, in my opinion. These scenes neither detracted nor distracted; they just weren’t particularly necessary. I would have enjoyed seeing more about Roman (because he was obviously totes cray!) and finding out who Sarge (Serge??) was. For such a small film, I though both the acting and cinematography were top notch so kudos to the team for that.
Overall, it was highly enjoyable and I was a little sad to see it end. Go become a part of the Family and watch it, so you don’t end up swimming with the fishes (or something like that…)!
Ahhh, now THIS was a film I enjoyed! Total Performance was the total package, y’all. It had the right amount of comedy and drama; the acting was fab and I REALLY dug some of the camerawork, yo. So what’s it about? Well, that’s part of what makes it so fun…
The film is about Cori, an actress, but her main gig is a little bit different. She works for a company that employs actors to play opposite real people who want to rehearse a difficult conversation. A breakup, a firing, or even an embarrassing confession: the company that she works for provides a living, breathing ‘sparring dummy’ for their clients. Essentially, she gets paid to go around fighting with people. It’s awesome. There are some obvious pitfalls, of course, like with ANY job, but for reals, how easy is this gig?? We see Cori on a few jobs…we see her on a date…we see her on an actual audition…we see hope in the comedic yet oddly touching and sad ending. The film is under 20 minutes but as time flew by, it felt as if it was only 5 minutes.
I found Tory Berner (Cori) utterly fantastic. Her face is SO expressive and she has this almost wide-eyed naivete about her that’s completely charming. I would watch her in just about anything. My favorite shots were done during the date scene. They weren’t anything fancy but something in them resonated. In fact, I think you’ll find that the whole film resonates as it’s so easily relatable to all.
That said, you should head over to Facebook and give ’em some love, and to find out where you too can watch this stellar TOTAL PERFORMANCE!
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).