The danger of ripping the piss out of something is that you often leave yourself open to the same charge. And so whilst Brian Crano’s 2008 film Official Selection sets about parodying many of the tropes of contemporary (and possibly pretentious) short film making, it takes a lengthy 10 minutes to do what it basically achieves in half the time.
It is undoubtedly amusing: watching Rebecca Hall deliver po-faced dialogue and simultaneously share an apple with a native American, Amanda Seyfried rubbing apple slices everywhere, Stephen Campbell Moore as a random astronaut and Dominic Cooper doing smell-the-fart acting, amongst many others, is lots of fun. And it is comical because much of it is true, so many of the arty shots here are highly recognisable as ways in which people have tried, and largely failed, to make their films more interesting. It’s worth the watch, but had it been half the length it might well have been twice as funny.
I wasn’t much of a fan of Love the Sinner, Drew Pautz’s play for the National Theatre, but I’m not one to hold a grudge and with Denise Gough, Liz White and Justin Salinger in the cast for this short film, I was more than willing to give him another go. And glad that I did,
as Desire is a most accomplished piece of film-making, hugely understated in its use of silences and gaps to create something genuinely enigmatic, even unsettling.
When a woman bangs desperately at the front door, seeking safe passage through Jonathan’s garden late at night, his decision to let her through opens up a Pandora’s box of terrible thoughts. As as she drops her phone, it allows him to try and track her down, all the while obsessively dreaming up a shared connection as he opens up all her photos and texts, all in the name of research of course.
Justin Salinger is impressive as the borderline creep whose personal dissatisfaction permits him internally to abandon his own family in such a way, Liz White as his uncomprehending wife is strong, and Denise Gough is excellent as Marcia, the mysterious woman who drives a cart and horses through his psyche, yet remains entirely unaware of the impact she’s had. Pautz has the chutzpah to let his audience make up their minds about vast swathes of this near 20-minute film and I’d recommend trying to track it down for yourself.
Lynsey Miller’s 2011 film Bleach is an intriguing thing, featuring the much-under-utilised actress Raquel Cassidy as Rebecca, superficially a woman who has it all from the high-flying career to the perfect family, but under the mask is a different story. I won’t say too much more as to not spoil what surprise there is but it is gracefully, beautifully played and gently surprising in an almost subversive way.
TWO PEAS from Azul Serra on Vimeo.
Prompted by last week’s Emily Taaffe-starring film, another of her appearances in a short film was recommended to me in Aoife Crehan’s Two Peas. I was a little less enamoured of this though, a two hander in which a lonely man and woman start to connect over the telephone, coming to realise the connection between them. The conversations are recapped rather than played out, the voices narrating impressionistic shots of the pair going about their daily business and this kept me at something of a remove from the film, it never really touched me in the way it ought to have done and the ambiguity of its climax further emphasised by own ambivalence.
And today’s funny entry is this Call the Midwife spoof, largely here to fulfil my Jessica Raine cravings. The Runner follows the travails of runner Matt (played by Matthew Spencer) as he tries to meet the needs of the Call the Midwife cast who turn out to be abusive, violent divas one and all. It’s short and sharp, just two minutes long, and so does the job perfectly – it’s lots of fun to see the likes of Raine, Pam Ferris and Miranda Hart acting out their diva tendencies and by the time you’ve even begun to think about it, it is over. Perfick.