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Nice control of tones, the shift between them, and an engaging delivery and production
2 June 2019
To stay "Too Long at the Fair" I assume means that you've stopped enjoying the highs of the day, and now you're a bit tired, the ground is muddy from the crowds, the mood has changed from family fun to drunken teens, and basically you should have left when it was bright and breezy. I assume this because it fits with the content of the film, which opens with two young adults running a silly business and trying to live out whatever their dreams are at that age. This sense of free-wheeling continues as they meet an older man and end up in his massive house. Fun continues until it doesn't.

This short has a very nice control of tone in this regard because essentially it captures the fun of the fair, the turn to something a bit different but maybe okay, and then that regret that sinks in later. The energy of the start gives it something to go with, and it does engage. The turning moment late in the film is very well done as it feeds off what went before whilst almost managing to be different. The ending has a good punch to it, because it very much convinces about that time of life where you are an adult but still are enjoying it in a consequence-free way, because they haven't really hit home - then they do. The performances are engaging, and sell the content - nice find to see Messina in there after seeing him in heavy-hitters like Six Feet Under and the recent Sharp Objects.
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Appreciate that it is out there, but it didn't do much for me as a film
2 June 2019
Perhaps the few real events that this film occurs within are known to the majority, but I did not know of Tesla's relationship to JP Morgan, or indeed to a white pigeon. To be fair, I know little of Tesla but the basics, so this is okay. The film doesn't help you much though, and throws the viewer into a scene of oddity where a life-action Tesla narrates his letter over animation of him surrounded by sparks and energy before retreating into his bedroom. There he finds his muse in a white pigeon, but it doesn't go too well from there.

I love that this film can exist; that someone made it and do so with energy and lots of ideas. I'd not say I enjoyed it, but I appreciated the craft of the animation, and the passion of the creative force which took the story/idea and did it in this way. It is an experimental animation - and few words fill me with more dread; as such it is technically very good but I didn't have much to get heart or mind into; and as a non-creative person,
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Missed Call (I) (2018)
Engaging but feels a bit too much for the camera, and the comparison to 160 Characters doesn't help it
2 June 2019
I was very much looking forward to this film because I had absolutely loved Mapplebeck's short film 160 Characters, where a relationship is reconstructed through texts found on an old phone in her kitchen drawer. Staying with phones and this relationship, Missed Call sees Mapplebeck and her 14-year-old son planning how to get in touch with her son's father, who he only saw at age 2 and not since. It does this through direct interviews shot on the iphone, and it explores the parent and son challenge of connecting with someone who long since stopped connecting with them.

It is a frustrating film, although I suspect my love of 160 Characters works against me on this one. At its core it is engaging, honest, and emotional. However the manner in which it is shot made me feel like it was being done for the camera, at least in part. This is ironic as I read that the teenager was more natural with a phone pointed at him than cameras etc, and that it got more natural interactions, but still it always felt like the camera was part of the conversation, not just capturing it. The phone (or technology generally) as a character is here, as is the fast edits from 160 Characters - another thing I struggled with, for two reasons. The first was that 160 was wholly based on phones, so it made sense; in Missed Call aside from the use of text to make that initial contact, there is no other big reason for it to take this approach.

The second reason is that the approach constantly reminds me of 160, which is a far better film. All that said, there is still enough of personal and emotional content in here to make it engaging; Victoria's son is honest and likeable, and neither him nor his mother seem phased by letting such personal moments play out in this short film. At times it did feel a little uneasy that these moments were being done on camera - but to be fair, I think this is more about me than the film, as I'm not a big consumer of "to-camera" stuff on YouTube, Snapchat, Instastories or any of that stuff. For those for whom that is the norm, probably this small niggle doesn't exist.

In summary, it is a solid film with an emotional core, and I found it frustrating that I did not like it more than I did.
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Milton (2019)
Consistently enjoyable cringe
2 June 2019
A boyfriend goes with his girlfriend to meet the family for the first time - although perhaps a hospital room as her grandfather breathes his last was not the best place to try to make a first impression.

This film had the potential to feel like a sketch, since it is an awkward scenario played out for max impact; however there is enough in here to flesh it out and work as more than this. The introductory scene tells us a lot about the lead man, his girlfriend, and their relationship. His awkwardness and frustration leads him to some terrible accidents, decisions, and interactions through the brief time in the hospice room, but it produces a nicely consistent cringe humour throughout. McLeod's awkwardness is very well played, but I enjoyed the presence and reactions of Ennis - more direct perhaps but still got good laughs. The film plays out well, with cringe upon cringe - some failings of the lead, some understandable errors; but they all work and are funny. I thought the final scene was out of step with the film a little, but it was fine and didn't detract from the whole.
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Manivald (2017)
Focuses too much on the plot device and not the character, but still engaging and the animation is nicely soft
2 June 2019
Manivald is a fox in his 30's who still lives at home with his mother. His many diplomas and his musical skill show him to be intelligent and very well educated, but yet he spends his days playing piano at home, getting looked after by his mother. His emotional reliance on this comfort zone is challenged when an attractive plumber comes to fix their washing machine, and who seems to be attracted to Manivald.

I read a really good write on this film on Short of the Week; the writer had made a real connection to the core element of this film which is about someone in their 30's struggling to make that emotional step away from childhood and strive out on their own. I do not know her age, but I can imagine it hitting a nerve with a generation who are leaving home later and later, buying their own place later and later (if at all), and facing challenges that I did not face even a decade or so before them. This part of the film is clearly laid out too - it is the base of the front, and it is the emotional core of the ending, and it feels clear that the odd sexual entanglements of the film are a plot device that leads the character from where they are at the start to where they end up. The problem I had though is that this plot device section is the whole film; it is the majority of time, it sets the tone for the film, and it spends its time on this, and less on the character.

Of course part of the character's movement occurs within and because of this device, but I did not connect to it mainly because of how focused it was on the sexual plot muddle. The animation itself is really pleasing in its colour and design; and I liked that the sexual element was not pushed in graphic or crude terms (cliched I know, but I was expecting it when I saw this was an eastern European animation). However in terms of plot and character, I wanted more, and personally found the plot device to distract from Manivald as a person (fox?) more than it enabled me to follow and understand his personal journey.
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Well put together, and tone is right even if it is hard not to take it as a somber piece
2 June 2019
The Guy is the story of a working man; someone who has been a stuntman and bit-player/extra for decades, but still works 5-days a week huffing boxes at UPS. The hits and knocks of his side-gig have left him with injuries which will only worsen, but he carries himself forward regardless. This profile documentary approach is hardly a new thing, and the polished talking heads approach is par for the course, but yet this works pretty well. I'm not sure if the reasons it does are entirely positive though, as I found it engaging partly for the interest of seeing Donahue in shows I have watched, but more-so for watching someone who is just a cog in a machine. Just like many 'in the industry' he is part of the whole structure making it work, but yet for him personally, he gets the knocks but none of the glory.

Wisely the film doesn't follow this thread, or turn on its subject. If anything, one can forgive its slightly celebratory tone on the basis of Brian more than deserving it. It well put together for this, with glossy clips combined with talking heads, and old footage/photos. It tells a brief story of a life, and celebrates the highs while not totally sugarcoating it. It certainly will mean more to those that can associate with the material, but the positive thing there is that most of us are just cogs in machines, regardless of sector, so it is a film that will produce some reflection even if it doesn't seem to be going after it specifically.
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Quirkumentary style very much at odds with its message and content
2 June 2019
I do enjoy a good quirkumentary - the type of documentary that takes a subject perhaps of marginal interest, but finds the endearingly weird characters and the general oddity of it all, and makes the film engage off the back of that. This is the type of approach that Guns Found Here seems to be going for, as it engages with a few unusual characters, has a quirky soundtrack, and doesn't do much to break the light mood. The topic of inadequate gun regulation is a very odd topic to do this with though, and it is not an approach that particularly fits this serious topic.

Maybe the angle was to make it lighter and easier to engage with? Or maybe to highlight the inherent comedy of the successful efforts to make gun searches much, much harder than they needed to be Maybe if you did not know about this situation then it would work better, but as it is it fell flat for me, with an odd tone and the content sort of stuck behind it.
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Nicely cringey mockery of progressives
2 June 2019
A group of liberal caricatures get together for a dinner party, as they often do as friends. After the meal they move to the usual games, but one of the couples (who of course just came back from Burning Man or something like that) suggest something a bit more adult - group sex.

A Good Dinner Party is not a perfect film because it is a bit broad and could have used a bit more hate or teeth in it, but it works well because its targets are known and well-drawn. By filling the room with caricatures and stereotypes, the film gets to present a very progressive group who are comfortable pushing boundaries. In contrast to this one person feels uncomfortable and is forced to defend her backward and closed-off views - in particular that she doesn't like the idea that her boyfriend would have multiple gay partners during the proposed orgy. This gives the film some teeth in the way it shows the moderate in the room being pushed beyond their comfort zone in the name of liberal progress, but yet even the slightest word out of place and the rest of the room are clutching their pearls.

As commentary and comedy it is broad but enjoyable. The cast work well with stereotypes, and have decent comic timing. I would have liked more savagery in its content but it is still a nicely cringe-inducing but gentle mockery of progressives.
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Good People (I) (2018)
Well constructed, and with a strong performance from Arias
2 June 2019
We jump into Emma and Owen's marriage by joining Emma and her lover in bed. It is their first time together and, while it is not what she had imagined, she does it anyway. From there we see her return home to her husband and four children. The distance between them is clear, although for Owen he doesn't seem to notice, and just goes along with his days. Emma though seems to hold a lot on herself.

Emma is played by Spanish actress Tamara Arias, and it is her performance that makes the film work. She is delicate throughout, capturing a sense of fear of everything and not knowing what she really wants. It feels like she has lost herself in the family, and is not sure how to get back to what she once had (or perceives that she had). Owen is played much duller, but he is not to blame either because the film is careful not to give out blame. Instead it allows them to both try and both fail, but ultimately give them hope together.

It is a simple set of scenes, but the structure works well (starting with the affair), and the performances make it work. Production standards are high, and it feels professional and warm. There was a lot of chance for cliché in this story, but the look and feel of the film, combined with the strong lead performance, make sure it is much more heartfelt than that.
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Bronzed (2019)
Nicely odd tension, but the majority and the conclusion doesn't pay it off well enough
2 June 2019
From the very start the film opens with oddity front and center. The engagingly intense performance of Phillips takes care of most of it, but the dialogue and skin removal more that tops it off. From here the tone from that character's side of the film is one of tension and unknown threat, while from the other side it is perky ambivalence. The intensity side is what kept me with it, as I thought the perky side was just too perky and not particularly engaging. It plays out well thanks to the design of the film, use of music, and the continued intensity of Phillips; but when push comes to shove there isn't really enough behind it to make it work. The payoff at the end is also not impacting enough to justify what had gone before, I found it very "huh, that happened' rather than being amused/shocked or anything else by it.

Looks good though, and has that good performance making it work, but there isn't enough here to really impact or stay with the viewer.
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Polished old-school entertainment
2 June 2019
I have watched quite a few Netflix comedy specials featuring comedians doing very difficult material, or doing very crude and modern stuff, so the offer of two Hollywood comedians hitting the screen did appeal to me. This delivered just what I had hoped, which is to say that it was polished, well-rehearsed, but very well-delivered. The setup is simple, which is that that Martin and Short open together, have some time on-stage alone, but mostly are together as a duo. They zing off each other in the way old pros do, and the one-liners are mostly strong.

There are a few comments here about them being elitist and talking themselves up as being famous, but I think those people miss that this is part of the joke. They actually jab at one another really well, each letting themselves be a target for the other. The chemistry is good throughout, and the two men are good individually and together, with timing and delivery from decades in the business. It feels a bit old fashioned compared to the more edgy (but less funny) Netflix comedy specials, but this is part of its charm and a bit part of it working.

Very polished, natural, charming, and funny throughout - well worth a look.
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Sprites (2018)
A little longer than it can bear, but it is interesting in its playing with the tech
2 June 2019
Good sci-fi is about ideas, as the saying goes; and often this saying allows us to relax that what we are watching is not state of he art CGI effects but rather basic aspects but with the ideas doing the heavy lifting. So it is here; the set is a white background where we see an audition play out. Instead of real people though, it is computer generated actors (sprites) that are the focus here. The plot of the film is simple, and it is about learning technology. The main actress works wit the sprites with a strong dislike for them as a lesser being, but then working with one provides something which suggests that there may be more to them that just code and repetition.

This idea is enough to carry the film, although the way it is delivered is clever too. The use of Kirk's speech from Wrath of Khan is a nice touch, and it is used well to give the main sprite some variety and depth. The lead two female performances are also both very good - natural, engaging, and with a nice interaction that convinces that this is a real relationship. The lack of effects is nicely handled, and the film works better for being on a clean pallet. It runs a little longer than it can stand, but it works pretty well despite this.
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Amusing little film with an ending that is better than it seems
2 June 2019
Felix discovers that his wife is cheating on him while they are attending a slick Hollywood party. A life-long doormat, Felix struggles to process this, and what he should do next.

We are dropped into this film with Felix already having just discovered what we are catching up on, and it is a nice way to begin, because it is not a film that lingers long on anything. As the film swoops around the swanky hill-side house party, we figure out who Felix is as a person. While this tempts the viewer to blame him for his wife's attraction to someone more 'powerful', the film manages to keep us on his side. The ending is a nicely played as it gives the viewer in essence what we were looking for, but yet stays true to the core of Felix as a character - he doesn't suddenly become someone he isn't. It took me a minute, but it worked well.

Aesthetically the film looks, sounds, and moves, really well - all of which suits the short running time and the light touch on plotting.
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Nicely presented curio, even if it doesn't totally connect to the bigger picture
2 June 2019
This documentary is the story of Haru Urara, a Japanese racehorse who endured the longest losing streak. Nothing of note perhaps, but at the time the racecourse owners were looking for stories and ways to promote their course, and sent out the story to media outlets. Quickly it got traction, probably due to the difficulties in the country meaning people connected to the story of a consistent loser who doesn't give up. As Hara Urara continued to fail, her support increased.

This short film links to a new Netflix show, and this is what brought it to my attention. It is not a brilliant film or story, but it is nicely presented and uses animation well to fill in footage blanks. The talking head contributions are cheery and happy to talk, but the film doesn't quite manage to inject drama into the telling, or rather it doesn't manage to connect the horse to the bigger picture that saw it win the hearts of the nation. It still manages to be breezy and engaging on one level, but this gap is a weakness because this national feeling is the story more than the specifics of the horse itself. The short is still worth a look though, because it is a nicely presented little curio.
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Great mix of absurdity and satire
2 June 2019
This short film is a very dry satirical comedy about the middle classes, in which the lead character is 'progressive' in so much as his mundane life allows him to show his tolerance to those lesser than him. However when a sex cult moves into the flat next door, he finds his progressive beliefs pushed beyond what he is willing to accept. It is a very nicely done piece because it balances two very different tones very well. On one side we have the social satire aspect which Raimo brings into the film, while on the other we have the absurd comedy of Maki. Of course neither works without the other, and it is this blend that makes the film work - much like the ear-rape of the heavy metal dropping into the bridge sequences.

The comedic timing of Puolanto and Reinikainen makes the film work very well, and the production standards are pretty high. Writer Toivonen gives plenty of good material, and Niukkanen has a good eye to get the most from it. Perhaps a Finnish social satire is not what everyone is looking for on a Saturday night, but this is worth a look for how enjoyably it mixes the satirical and the absurd.
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Botanica (2017)
Mostly good blend of real and odd, but the ending left a bad taste in my mouth
2 June 2019
This short film opens with a sense of passion and closeness before quickly jumping to that same sexual act being clearly transformed into one of function first and foremost. The root of this is the man's possible infertility, and his unwillingness to deal with it but just keep trying. The pain and damage of this is spread across the two characters and it gives the film a real strong core to build from. Interestingly though the rest of the film doesn't play like a straight drama, but instead is consistently odd in its setting and how it is used. It is all the small things - the girl playing the harp while still in boots, the matching digital watches, the stilted dialogue, the colours. All of it gives the film a slightly absurd quality which takes the weight off the core plot.

I had an issue with the ending though; it seemed too suddenly dark for the rest of the film, pretty gross, and it lost the real pain of the character into that extreme. As a punchline and an impact, it works, but mostly I didn't go for it. A weak spot then, but otherwise the film was relatable and enjoyable in how it blended that real into a slightly absurd setting.
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The Derby (2018)
Well rounded and engaging look at economic reality
2 June 2019
Through a series of interviews and candid shots, this short film lays out the reality of America (and most countries) where the poorest work the hardest, the richest intellectually observe from their point of comfort, and those in the middle work like those below but spend like they are the rich. It does this in a way that mostly observes, although it does use interviews to help draw what it wants from the people - not just observing them.

It is an approach that works pretty well, and it doesn't push the message down our throats by overegging it. It didn't need to though, as the differences in the class and income structure is clear. Those working the hardest put a brave face on it, and seem genuine happy with their work and opportunity, even if it is hard and the type of work that those higher up the tree wouldn't do for twice the money. The opening and closing valet in particular struck me, as he celebrates his money and nice day - even though the money is less than the people he worked for spent on drink each, and his work was the type they would see as lowest of the low. The lines and wear on his face tell us that he is genuine though, that certainly he will have harder and less profitable days than this one - thus making his situation starker and depressing in the context of the film.

By avoiding the temptation to caricature or stereotype, the film lets the differences speak for themselves and it is engaging. It probably could have been more impacting or emotive if it had pushed buttons deliberately, and played to its point, but it is a better and more rounded film with what it does here.
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Lasting Marks (2018)
Engagingly constructed and delivered
2 June 2019
Although there is still plenty of tabloid-led outage over minority sexualities and identities, it is still jarring for this film to pull us back to the "good old days" of the 1980's, where Thatcher led the country, Mary Whitehouse tutted over our viewing habits, and homosexuality was legal but not 'normal'. I remember those days even if I was reasonably young, although I do not remember this case as it would have been when I was far too young. The presentation of the film gets you into the time though. The facts of the case are presented through a vertically ratioed presentation of court papers, headlines, and newspaper cutting. Watching in a dark room, the effect was a bit jarring as the screen was mostly white, but it worked well - keeping it in the documentary style, but informing us how this was seen and spoken about - not just the overview of the case.

While the lurid headlines do this (mixed with other media), the narration is well judged. One of the men arrested talks very matter-of-factly about the case and the absurdity of it all. He doesn't yell or rant now that he has this space to do so, and the film is better for how ordinary and direct he is with his recollections and occasionally wry observations. The approach perhaps means the film is not as emotional as it could have easily been, but it is informative, interesting, and engaging for it.

Worth seeing, and much credit to Charlie Lyne for going back to a story that predates him, and doing it so well. I enjoyed his last film (Fish Story) and enjoyed how much meatier the content of this film was but yet his creative side is consistent.
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Landline (II) (2018)
Interesting, if a little detached
2 June 2019
This short film looks at a suicide phone line which was set up by an individual to provide direct support to those in the rural community who are struggling with their homosexuality. It is a worthy film that uses overlaid recordings to connect to real people and their struggles to be even more of a remote outsider than being a farmer in a small community already is. Worthy though, doesn't mean that it necessarily impacts, and in this case I found myself watching from a distance more than anything else.

I think it was the recorded voices that did it, because they were understandably matter-of-fact and a little bit lacking in emotional content on the surface. On one hand this makes the film earthy and real, which is important for it as a documentary. But then on the other, it means it doesn't force the viewer to confront the people behind the calls - like the service itself, we are anonymous and without real-life connection to the individuals. This is not to say that the film doesn't have weight and impact, but for those looking for something with more emotional heart to it, it will feel surprisingly dry in is delivery
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Damage (2019 Video)
Simple (well, 'contained') but effective comedy-drama
2 June 2019
This awkward little short is nicely balanced that we join as Emma is breaking up with Mitch. Shortly into the scene, the rather loud and unaware Ryan arrives to potentially buy an amp that Mitch was selling, interrupting the otherwise emotionally charged and difficult moment. The presence of this character is awkward and amusing, but it doesn't take us too far from where we were - rather it sets up a nice dialogue scene with Emma where she has a real go at the potential buyer over his approach to the vintage amp.

It is the key scene of the film, and although it is pretty obvious in what it is doing, it never pushes it too far and it works well as it fills in so much detail about who the characters are, where their relationship has gotten to, and broadly why. This sets up a nice ending too, which is nicely upbeat in its own awkward way. The action is limited in location and only 3 cast members. Creamer is the one that catches the eye for 'non-film' reasons, because of his modelling work on P***Hub, but here he has the least of the characters - he plays it well to let the others do their thing, but it is a thankless job in terms of moments. Noth is funny and a good presence in his commitment to the character, but it is Eastman who took it for me because she had the hardest job to sell all aspects of her main dialogue scene, and she really nailed it.

Engaging little short that pleased me in how it put so much in about characters and their relationship but without really looking directly at either.
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Grimly industrial but could have benefited from some angle
2 June 2019
This short film was made at the River Don factory in Sheffield - a site shared with premises owned by Forgemasters. I have been into this place myself long ago, and loved it for its character, history, and the fact that it really is a living museum. It is worth saying for the benefit of anyone watching, that the factory has leapt forward in the world of safety, although fundamentally the factory is still the same as it is in this film. For those not lucky enough to known someone who can get them a visit, this film is a good way to experience the site.

In a very passive way, the film captures the machinery and work. It is effective in terms of showing it, but it also limits it to only doing this. There is no sense of the character of the place, no angle on the presentation of the factory etc, it is just footage. This approach doesn't get much help from the tone given it either, which is overly grim and industrial with its music and shot selection. It feels a bit obvious in doing this, although it does still give you plenty of access despite it only 'presenting' (my favorite moment being people shielding their face from the radiant heat using only their arms, while trying to inspect a product!).

Worth a look as a capture of a place, but I did wish it had been more ambitious and come at it with an angle, as the people, character, humor etc of the place don't come through at all.
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Relatable scenario presented with engaging detachment
2 June 2019
A young girl is a rising star in the world of ballet - a journey very much the vision of her mother, who only wants the best for her daughter and pushes her hard to get it. If you are a parent probably you understand how it can happen like this, and if you are not then maybe you now someone who is like this. Either way, in terms of the content the film is relatable even if it is in the world of ballet and within a South Korean family. The loss of the girl's present in pursuit of her future is well presented in a clear but not obvious way, and the performances seem natural.

The delivery and direction give it a distance and detachment that helps the tone of the film. We experience stuff through windows, glass, and other filters which give us distance, even when we are seeing events through the perspective of the characters. The final shot of a dessert being eaten on the other side of a window is a very good example of this, and was one of the very few (non-Marvel) times that I watched till the very last second of the credits. Visually it gives the film character and style, but it adds a sense of the child into the way the film is told, and it worked well.
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Riot (2017)
Conveys the rawness and rage surprisingly well
2 June 2019
I rarely find myself rushing to watch short films classed as 'experimental', and I'm even slower when I see things like 'mixed-media' and 'interpretive dance' are in the mix too. Knowing Riot was all this, plus French made me assume I was going to get some very deliberately difficult art short, which means something to the makers but FA to anyone casually watching. In a way, it is the film that you expect it to be, in that it is not a narrative piece that has a start/middle/end, and it does feel 'arty' with how it does what it does. None of that is criticism though, because the film is always what it states it is. What struck me though was how well it worked - particularly for a casual such as myself.

For me "working" meant that the film conveyed raw emotion really well. Frustration, rage, violence, powerlessness - all of it comes out in the 'life action' sequences, which are effectively complemented by animation. The majority of the animated parts are actually the "narrative" parts, where real life plays out, and it was an interesting contrast to have the imaginative and interpretive bit be the physical delivery. It is an acquired taste, and it runs a little longer than it can stand and the internet audience it is now aimed at may not stick with it. But I'm far from target audience and found myself held by the imaginative construction, but mainly how effectively I 'felt' the film raw angry energy.
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Retouch (2017)
Carefully paced, perhaps to a fault, but the lead actress pretty much sells it
2 June 2019
Not wishing to say too much, this film features a woman faced with a moral dilemma and in essence making her call early in the film. From there we follow her through her day. It is a very slow paced film, and it does what it does with deft touches. It works well doing this, but there is a downside that if the little things aren't holding you, then probably it will feel overly long and padded out. It recently came online and I suspect that it is not the best place, even though it is a good film.

On first watching, I sort of wanted the film to give me more of a harsh base, so that I could understand why Maryam's struggle was not easy, however as I watched I appreciated that it didn't. It gave us small relatable things so that the film was never a done-deal or lacking conflict. Sanjari's performance carries the film, while also fitting well with its tone and pace. She gives a lot with small expressions - eye, jaw line etc, and it works well in the context of this restrained film.

I do think it is maybe too deliberate in how it plays it out with the pace and runtime, but it works as a whole.
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Futurestates: Refuge (2013)
Season 4, Episode 2
Refuge: Pacing is a bit off, but the ideas are well presented
2 June 2019
A young Iranian woman living as a refugee in the US finds herself caught up in political machinations between the US and Iran whenever cyberattacks bring the two countries into a tension. While facing uncertain future, she is offered the chance to do some work which will open her to fast-tracking for a Green Card, and a life in the US.

I saw a write-up for this recently that made a lot of the current US/Iranian tensions, drawing a line from this film to this time. I don't think the film does too much with this backdrop though, other than have it as a backdrop. Instead what it does is structure a narrative around the idea of the disenfranchised being open to abuse due to their inherent lack of power and voice. In the film this manifests itself two ways, neither being "unreasonable" if you really wanted to explain them away - but yet through the experience of Sonia we can see clearly these are not reasonable. Having her life risked because of a conflict way above her influence, and then her best option being a terrible option - both speak to how poor her situation is. It is also telling that she looks around her neighbours in low-cost housing, and sees something she desires in terms of what it represents.

The film runs too long for what it does though, and the pacing is off. It looks and sounds good, with good use of location, and unobtrusive and unshowy use of effects to put us in the near future. The lead actress is the key to it working, and she does well, even if not all elements of it come together as a whole.
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