The Funniest Movie of the Festival
British Shorts Now!
I don’t recall the FFF ever doing a separate selection for just British Shorts, but as soon as I saw the listing I knew I had to go. I love British humor and witticisms. Like most males my age, I was enthralled with Monty Python’s Flying Circus. For my father, it was Benny Hill. And to this day I believe the British versions of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, The Office and House of Cards are far superior to their American counterparts. I know it may be apocryphal, but rumor has it that when Dustin Hoffman worked with Lawrence Olivier, Dustin had a scene were he was supposed to be tired without any sleep so he spent days staying awake to prepare himself for the role at which point Sir Larry is reported to have said to him, “Have you ever tried acting, dear boy.”
Mrs. LanceAround and I are surprised and delighted to discover that the theatre is packed with barely an empty seat. It always comes as a shock to us that the FFF doesn’t sell out every single performance. In a large, metropolitan area where the arts are well celebrated and supported, one would think that the FFF would be a crowning jewel with an overwhelming draw. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very long and diverse festival with 1500 submissions, 10 days of movies, at least three full time movie venues and a small army of staff and volunteers that make it work. According to Jeremy Workman, a professional editor and filmmaker, the FFF has a stellar reputation in the indie film world as one of the best festivals in the world. Still, we often wonder why every show isn’t a sellout and whether or not something can be done to help spread the word.
Certainly that’s one thing the LanceAroundOrlando blog team attempts to do–spread the word about this magnificent festival and help make it even more popular than it already is.
Friend Request Pending
Absolutely hysterical short film about two women who use social media back and forth to try to impress a man and ask him out for a date. Problem is, they are a little unsure of how to use social media as it’s a somewhat new phenomenon for these two ladies who are, at least, well into their 60′s or 70′s. A delightful script with a brilliant performance by Judi Dench makes this film one you do not want to miss. Or, as they might say, be sure to poke a friend and invite them to see this movie. It’s filled with LOL. (That does mean “Lots of Love,” doesn’t it?)
Who’s the most knowledgeable person in any neighborhood community? Undoubtedly, it’s the postman. Just the envelopes on every letter he delivers gives him information about the person at that home. And what does he do with all this information? Watch this film for one possible scenario. It’s not uncommon for short films to suffer from a lack of good editing; too many scenes or too much information. This is not one of those films. Short, tight and just the right touch makes for a good story with an unexpected result.
I Am Tom Moody
I am Tom Moody
A brief stop motion film dealing with the desire to be onstage and a singer but first the need to overcome childhood fears. Cute little film done with passion and creativity. Good use of symbolism and flashback.
Delightful inside look at the fresh mozzarella business in London; a difficult place to introduce fresh mozzarella as British pub patrons don’t have the same affection for this delight as the Italians who work daily to make it fresh, tasty and with just the right touch of whey. it’s an insightful documentary.
True to life story about the family dynamics when a young man comes out to his parents. Good script, good production values, very engaging movie.
Creative black and white animation with a touch of surrealism that helps to deepen one’s understanding of the characters. It’s the kind of technique where the animation is done over top of the live action film. I’m not sure what the name of that technique is. But it allowed the filmmaker the freedom to create atmosphere and images that enhanced the subtext of the story. Well done and it held our attention.
The North London Book of the Dead
There’s something about the wry wit and understatedness of British humor that has always resonated with me. This short has it in droves. Mom dies, or does she? Why is she now living in a suburb of London that’s most known for how difficult it is to travel to it since there’s no tube? Why is she now volunteering at a local class for the recently departed? And why hasn’t she called her son? Or are we just hallucinating? After the movie, someone in the audience asked if she would go to that neighborhood if she died when she was travel ling to London. Or did I just imagine that and the movie is still going on? This one is original and fun.
Pitch Black Heist
Fabulous production values wonderfully shot in black and white with superb cinematography. It’s an engaging story about a heist that has to take place in pitch blackness because the alarm is light activated. Michael Fassbender’s performance is, as we’ve come to expect from him, extraordinary. Very engaging film. The sound editing during the scenes of pitch blackness keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Q & A British Shorts
Great insights From the Filmmakers
Jake Lushington, director and Shelley Rubenstein, producer for The North London Book of the Dead along with Robert J. Francis, writer, producer and star of Storming Out, were available for questions after the movie.
Q: How long does it take to make a short film?
A: Very. Filming took four days, the whole process took two years answered jake, Robert said his was a stage play that was filmed over a weekend.
Q to Robert: It was very authentic, is there anything you want to tell us?
A: That’s what happened to me. It was my very own experience of coming out to my parents. My parents said the things that were said in the film; almost word for word. My mom was shocked and upset. My dad was more supportive but he said we’ll keep it to ourselves. As they watch the film now, they love the film. They think it’s fantastic. My mom says, “well, I apologize for those thoughts, opinions. At the time I was really ignorant. I didn’t understand. A lot comes from fear.” She was frightened of the unknown. She had no experience of homosexuality and had a complete misconception of what it was. I thought it was an important story to tell and I wanted to share it with other people. Everyone who is gay has, at some point in their life, come out and told people. No one has to come out as “straight.”
Q: In your opinions, why do British people do so much better at theatre than Americans:
A: I don’t know what you mean by that. I think there’s a very strong theatre tradition in London, but there’s a very strong tradition over here. I think the history of it is very strong. There’s a very strong history within the regions of what’s called regional rep which is often part of an actor’s first training. I think it has to do with training.
Q to Robert: How long ago did you come out. I thought the kind of reactions we saw on the film are from like 20 years ago. (groans from the audience indicate that the questioner might be a little out of touch with this question.)
A: That’s quite a common question and a common reaction. This happened 10 years ago, but you might be surprised to learn that scenarios like that are being played out all over the place. In England I can guarantee that something like this happened within the past year. People still have that fear, they still have that anger, they still have that resentment, especially when it’s in their own family. It’s OK if it’s someone elses family.
Q to Jake: Do you have any plans to make it into a feature.
A: I haven’t, but not because you couldn’t. But when I looked at it, the less is more. It fires the imagination. But if you showed it in a feature it might become repetitive and milk the concept.
Responses From the Audience
A young male begins to make his way to speak with the filmmakers along with an older woman who I assume is his mother. I stop him to ask his opinion of the shorts program: “I thought it was really good. Pitch Black Heist was my favorite”. “If you don’t mind my asking, how old are you?” “I’m 14.” “How can I identify you in the blog?” “I’m Brandon Israel.” I now address the mother figure, “You OK with that?” “Yes.” back to Brandon, “What was it about the last film you liked the most.” “I thought it was really clever and I enjoyed the beginning, watching the training they went through. I liked how he played the man along making him think, ‘oh, you’re my friend,’ but he just used him as a decoy so he could get out.” “You are the youngest person I’ve interviewed at the festival this year. Kind of unusual to have someone so young here. Tell us a little about what’s attracted you to come here today.” “I have an interest in film. It started about the start of the eight grade after I came back home from camp. I made a horror film at camp.” “Camp?” “Yea, I went to a performing arts camp. A lot of people liked my film. I started experimenting with just cameras I found around the house. I really liked it.” “What do you hope to be when you get older?” “I want to be a filmmaker when I grow up–a director and a writer.”
Sounds like this young man is off to a good start!
International Animated Shorts
One of the things that makes SunnyStefani and LanceAround such a good blogging team is they often have very different perspectives on the same event. So it’s not uncommon for them to give completely different reviews of the same movie. Today, they watched the International Animated Shorts Program together and, sometimes, provide polar opposite reviews of the same short. It’s almost as much fun as watching reruns of Siskel & Ebert.
International films often provide a breath of fresh air to the American theatre-goer. I find some commonality among international movies that you don’t often see in the America cinema. These include:
Environmental Concerns–Often international films will explore issues related to the environment whereas Americans often appear much less concerned about environmental issues.
Casualness About Sex and Nudity–Americans tend to get uptight regarding anything about sexuality and nudity. Many international projects don’t seem to give it a second thought.
Focus on Relationships With Other Countries–Perhaps it comes from having so many countries located so close to one another and sharing international borders. In our country, our borders only touch two other countries and, in my opinion, we seem very out of touch with how other countries think and feel.
Substance Over Form–I find many international movies to be very story driven with a depth of characters and a larger willingness to artistically experiment that is a far cry from the American love affair with the big budget action/adventure formula.
Today’s international animated shorts provided the usual amount of delights as our friends from other countries provided many films that were unique, experimental, thought provoking and just plain enjoyable.
All-in-all the international shorts were very risque and provocative compared to the US norm; some good, some bad, overall sexual. It’s always nice to see art forms from many perspectives; luckily for me, I don’t get offended easily.
Sexually charged little short about a woman tram driver and how she found the “sexperience” (according to the closing credits) of driving a tram quite, uh, stimulating. Funny, well paced with great film and sound editing. But don’t bring your children to see this one.
This provocative short is about a female tram conductor that takes her daily routine and turns it into a sexual desire for her male passengers. Repetitive at times and a little longer than I think it needed to be, but who hasn’t thought about sex on a tram…
La Viande + L’Amour
What are we really but an assembly of flesh, blood and bones? In this very, very short film it brings that point forward in no uncertain terms. Nice little experimental film, just the right length with a unique filming style that made it worthwhile. Mrs. LanceAround just corrected me saying it wasn’t raw meat, it was uncooked food. The meaning to her was the concept of love–carnal love–and how…whatever…this review has now gone on longer than the actual film.
A pile of flesh kissing face muscles really says it all. Creepy!
Head Over Heals
Upside Down Love?
What a beautifully symbolic piece of stop motion that looks at relationships/marriage/men and women in a unique way. As I’m contemplating what to say about this movie, SunnyStefani leans over to Mrs. LanceAround and says, “That was so cute!” Perhaps that says it all. And, if I say anything else it might spoil the uniqueness of this film. You definitely want to see it. Mrs. LanceAround says it’s very tender.
I’m sure every husband and wife has thought about splitting up the house. In this case the husband has the ceiling and the wife has the floor. [Editor's Note: Well, so much for trying to protect the spoiler...LanceAround] What seems as a grumpy, worn out elderly couple really turns into a sentimental, cute and enduring film. Since I can’t give away the ending, click on the link below to watch it yourself. http://youtube.com/watch?v=n45Yij2hmM4.
A lone cicada emerges from a 66 year hiatus in an attempt to shed his shell and propagate the species. Beautiful animation. Unique in that one of the main features of the film was the incredible sound work that made one feel the walk of the cicada. It contained a surprise ending with a very important message about an issue near and dear to the hearts of the Japanese people. I liked this short so I will give you a YouTube link so you can enjoy it for yourself. (Though you might want to watch it before you read SunnyStefani’s review and she changes your mind)…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pdkQY9SReU
This weird and drawn out short was about a cicada who puts its life at risk every 66 years to mate. One of my least favorites by far. In fact, I was relieved when it was over and then it started back up with a second part…disappointing!
Topo Glassato Al Cioccolato
Black and white sketches of a surrealistic nature looking to explore the interconnectedness of various disparate elements. I had to look up the translation of the movie title and it means Frosted Chocolate Mouse. There was nothing I saw in the movie that was frosted, I also didn’t see anything chocolate and, while there were lots of birds, fish and even a bunny I never saw a mouse. Mrs. LanceAround (who has an advantage over me because she grew up in the 60′s and I didn’t) surmises that the filmmaker must have been on acid when they made this movie. Reviews of the film on YouTube also suggest that ingesting controlled substances prior to viewing would be an advantage.
Visually amazing drawings that would morph from one thing to another. A Rubik Cube into a childbirth; a guy getting shot in the hear and breaking open into a flock of birds flying, for example. I only wish I could draw so well.
Bendito Machine IV–Fuel The Machines
Beautifully animated little fable packed with tons of symbolic references from historical to futuristic societies. It traces the evolution of mankind as he travels through his own world and others; the good, the bad and the ugly. Somewhat surrealistic art. Very well done. The more I think about this short the more and more I like it. So I will post a link to this film for you: http://vimeo.com/44428210
This dark, shadowy film reminded me of a childhood book, Where the Wild Things Are. A hero sets out on a demon bike to a roller coaster which leads him to travel the sea by seahorse in a polluted, plastic bottle and oil infested water. From there into an x-ray scanner, a hot air balloon then rocket ship which ultimately leads him to an encounter with a baby alien. All of which left me puzzled as to what just happened.
Body Memory (Keha Malu)
What a fanciful animation this was–box full of humanoid creatures made out of strings struggles against something that’s pulling their strings. Then, another scene of a train that turns into a slithering snakelike, sluglike creature. Beautiful images evocative of coming to terms with the struggle against whatever it is that you’re made of.
This whole short was about string people in a box that can’t escape. Almost instantaneously I was reminded of the concentration camps during the Holocaust so I was put off a little. Not amazing, not horrible, just left me wondering.
Irish Folk Furniture
If Furniture Could Talk
Ever hear the expression, “If walls could talk…?” Well, what if the old furniture in your Irish Folk Homeland could talk and tell the tales of what it was, how it was made, why it was created and how it was used by the people who used it. That would be worth restoring and, in the process of restoring, remembering, recounting and keeping the tales alive. A very touching film which explored that very adeptly with the use of old photos and stop motion filming.
Such a basic and simplistic film about refurbishing old forgotten Irish furniture.
This one was a crowd pleaser using stop motion to explore the concept of…gosh… this one’s kind of hard to describe what it’s about. Look at the title, that’s a hint. There are also blowup sex dolls, that’s another hint. Just take a look.
A blowup doll in room 69 of a roadside motel makes for a fun night and an unexpected ending.
Fanciful tale about a man who escapes from his mundane life using erotic fantasies and his faithful companion often bringing him back to reality. Very well animated and fascinating to watch.
This sick and disturbing story distorts reality with fantasy.
Contains elements of live action with animals and a distorted sense of scale. Fun little experimental film.
A hyper bunny gets skinned, fur turned into yarn. Oddly dark yet still held my attention.
When you were younger, you were probably told to not swallow your gum. This very short film takes a look at dangers that occur if you should do that in a very over-the-top and dramatic way.
Based on a true story.
Beautiful stop motion where all the characters, sets, props and background were made out of cloth, textiles, threads, material of some kind. Told the tale of someone who had lost their mother and traveled alone until they found a replacement. It was a valiant effort. The concept was very creative. It could have used some editing to make it a lot shorter and tighter. Basically it was a five minute film in a fifteen minute movie.
Ever wonder what happens at a nudist colony funeral? When Willy’s mother dies, he goes through a series of events that leaves him in the mountains with Big Foot. Both long and odd; an awkward way to end the shorts.
Audience Reaction to International Animated Shorts
We caught up with a few theatre goers after the shorts and here’s what the Hendersons, a married couple, had to say about this program:
Her: I liked a lot of them. I liked Folk Furniture. I liked the last one. I’m still trying to think about it. I liked Tram. And Head Over Heels I loved. It was just beautiful.
Him: For me it’s the story. I wasn’t sure about Oh Willy. She mentioned that it was a dream.
Her: Well, he was conflicted about where he belonged in a nudist colony. You know, he had to conform at some point. I think that whole whipping thing made him conform. Now that’s become this beast. He has to love himself. I know that’s kinda weird and out there, but I think that’s what’s going on. He has to make peace with that pain.
Him: I liked Rabbid.
Her: I even liked Body Memory. I don’t know about the string thing, except that you’re sometimes pulled and you can’t stop. I don’t know. I don’t know what the symbology is, except that they can’t do anything about their fate.
I Declare War
The other day, SunnyStefani wrote a positive review of the movie I Declare War. Then, two different people I encountered in the queue for The Birds mentioned I Declare War as one of their favorite films. Although Mrs. LanceAround and I were exhausted from having just watched 21 films, we decided to treat ourselves to something that was guaranteed to be a relaxing evening of enjoyment. We sat down to watch I Declare War and got up 94 minutes later literally shaking our heads and wondering what all the fuss was about. For me, this film was disjointed, slow moving, relatively one dimensional and, most of all, boring. Mrs. LanceAround wasn’t as negative about the film as I was.
Was I just too tired from a long day? Or too grouchy from a strenuous week of work and FFF coverage? Was it simply a matter of three people getting my expectations so high that the film was really okay but for me far below what I was led to believe? Or maybe Clint Durbin was correct when, in a comment he made on the blog the other day, he called me “myopic,” “contemptuous,” “borderline offensive” and someone who dismisses movies out of hand “without even making an effort.”
Whatever is going on with me, I certainly dismiss I Declare War. There was some nice acting and good production values. But, for me, story is paramount and this full length movie had enough story for about a 10 minute short.