Sunday, September 30, 2012


D. Various filmmakers


This dvd collection of short indie films, all by different directors is a lot of fun. As with any collection it is a hit and miss bag, but the good outweighs the bad here. Each filmmaker was given an EMOTION to use as the spring board for their film. Building the narrative around it. We watched this at our INDEPENDENT SHADOW CINEMA screening so  I ended up watching the films completely out of order as they appear on the DVD, so this list does not represent the actual order.

101 TAYLOR ST opened the show for us and it was a good place to start. Directed by Jabb Pictures Jason Hoover the emotion taken on here is DENIAL (arguably not an emotion as much as act but whatever). The film is designed almost like a documentary with a droning narration telling us the story of an elderly woman who turned out to be one of they most prolific serial killers of the mid west. The film is constructed of a series a very well shot tableaux of the area's landscapes. It is the most experimental film in the package and is entirely effective. It creates a deep seated mood. The emotion should have been DREAD because the movie builds plenty of it. 

Next up is HAPPY HOOKER BANG BANG from filmmaker David Paul Bonnell. He follows it up later with a second installment. The two emotions he uses are DESIRE and ENVY and he blatantly names his characters after the emotions. The first segment of this hooker duo starts out well enough with two roomates arguing about work. The more worldly of the two is a hooker and her plain friend is out of work and envy's her friends ability and money. Soon she is sneaking around, pretending to be Desire and gets tied to a bed about to be raped. The short had been straight forward and serious up to this point. But then it turns into chicks with guns comedy, letting it down. Hard. 

The second installment HAPPY HOOKER BANG BANG: A LOVE STORY dispenses with any resemblance of seriousness for a straight up comedy. Some of it is kind of funny (The pimp character, Desire pulling a bomb out of her snatch) but over all, even at ten minutes it becomes kind of tiresome.

Next is LUKE 1:17 directed by 14 year old Dakota Meyer and it is one of my favorites of the volume. The emotion here is HATE and it is a decidedly serious segment with no supernatural trappings. Two brothers are trying to get by in the emotional wreckage of their Father murdering their mother and ending up in jail. The film feels like the best of the DOGMA 95 movies with naturalistic performances and shooting style. The climax is more an emotional gut punch than a visceral one and that is why it works. This kid has more of a grip of the mechanics of film than most people twice, or three times his age. 

CONTRITION by Jim Dougherty is one of the strongest visually. But the story is ultimately very slight. Basically a werewolf story told in flashback. A geneticist accidentally creates a wolfman who turns on her family. This one clearly had the biggest budget of any of the movies and uses it well. It just could have stood another script draft to bring it all together. 

FLASH OF WIRE by David Ross is a very interesting little movie. Taking the art film approach to explore SCHADENFREUDE (The emotion of taking pleasure in the pain of others). Shot in Black and White and using Greek Mythology as a reference point the film it follows a man at the dentist explaining his dreams. Ultimately everyone in the film comes to represent Greek Gods. It is a brave approach to the genre material.  Apparently part of it was actually shot in Greece too. 

James Manning directs the ghost story DEATH DO US PART. Easily the weakest entry (despite a fetching lead who has no problem getting naked). A house is haunted by the couple who died there and the investigator slowly becomes sexually enamored with the place. Hence why the emotion here is LUST.  The segment is just way too leisurely paced for the inconsequential pay off.

FRANKIE is Jason Hoover's shot at GRIEF and is the one that has split audiences from the reviews I have read and at our screening as well. The most viscerally violent of this volume, it is one long take, with the camera circling around the protagonists, as they are tied up, interrogated and tortured by some guys they may or may not have wronged. For the most part it is quite disturbing and unsettling, it is only let down by the improv acting that works most of the time, but falls back on just saying "fuck" over and over.

Bryan Wolford’s MYCTOPHOBIA is largely very solid, grounded by a very good performance from the lead actress Kitsie Duncan. The movie deals with a woman who has an otherwise normal life but is crippled by her fear of the dark. Her therapist tells her to try getting used to the dark a little at at a time, so when her electric goes out it seems her madness will set in. But what she is unaware of is there is a very good reason to be afraid of the dark. This segment is only marred by some so so CGI. Otherwise it is one of the strongest of the set.

Finally TRUST is explored, in the form of misguided trust in the best movie of the set EPIDEMIC by Dustin Mills. It deals with an outbreak of some sort of viral infection. But we witness it through one characters slowly becoming sick until he finally  calls on the government for help. 

The one consistent annoyance for me was the filmmakers over reliance to CGI effects, 90% of them not well executed. MYCTOPHOBIA is probably the only one that called for those effects, but the others would have been much better served by just doing practical effects. 

Review © Andrew Copp

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