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Hold Up (2006)
Bad acting sinks this ship
What could be a hilarious short, is undercut by awful acting. Protagonists so annoying I wanted to continuously punch them in the face. Every line sounded painstakingly scripted, which is made more embarrassing when I read that the script was custom tailored to the actors. On the flipside, the premise was good enough to hold my interest all the way through, and there were a few funny one-liners.
Another short that proves theme conquers technique. In this case its obvious that festival programmers championed the LGBT theme over the fact the film is badly shot(this is not cinema verite, just ugly and uncomposed) and horribly acted.
Today I received a short I requested from a fellow filmmaker. I had seen the trailer online, though I forget exactly how I came upon it. Anyways the film, titled LOSER, written and directed by film school grad Nicholas D. Feitel, follows the plight of a young man(Donnie, played by Zephyr Benson) on a slow jog towards adulthood. For him, growing up and escaping the gauntlet, known to most as high school, can't come any sooner. He is picked on, beaten up, and oh yeah, he's Jewish. His life is so bad, that we catch him in the opening moments of LOSER, hiding in a bathroom at his own Bar Mitzfah. Touches like that are nice. To that I have to applaud the writing, in which small strokes can be more telling than broad ones when painting character. Granted, the film feels rushed in the sense that too much ground tries to be covered within the 12 minute run time - this is one of the few short films that could benefit from being expanded to maybe 15 or 20. The look and tone of the film is great! I love the naturalism, and grainy beauty of the 16mm stock. Though not quite great, LOSER definitely labels Nicholas D. Feitel as a filmmaker to watch. He knows his stuff, now he just needs to fine tune his style and structure. I encourage you to check out his channel on vimeo(http://www.vimeo.com/channels/43565), where he has another short up that I highly recommend. It's called THE BIG NIGHT.
The Vicious Kind (2009)
Fest favorite will not break into the mainstream
The Vicious Kind is the kind of film that will play great to rabid audiences on the festival circuit, the problem being that now it has been released to the general paying public. There are a lot of problems with this film, namely; the humor isn't very funny, and the drama can't be taken too seriously. This will leave any film dead on arrival. What The Vicious Kind attempts to do is mix comedy and drama, and what's left is blandness and confusion amongst the aud per what is supposed to be funny and what is serious. Adam Scott is decent, but he could be real good if the script gave him some real emotion to play off of. Which brings me to the films next major problem - motivations. What drives these characters to do what they do? There is some back story, but it felt very exposition-y. There's a lot of crying being done here seemingly without reason as well, explicitly as means to "deepen" the characters and solemn the mood.
If you want to see a truly great American Indie this year, rent "Two Lovers".