There are so many short films out there featuring so many actors that I like that I found it impossible choose my favourites…so here’s a second set for your delectations, there may well be more to come!
The main reason I started looking at short films was after having been sent this little beauty which was a finalist in the 2010 Electric Shorts competition. I Do stars both Julian Ovenden and Aden Gillett so it should be clear why someone thought it relevant to my interests, but it is actually a really well put together little film by Duncan Cargill. It looks good, it is sexy and fresh and wittily clever all within less than three minutes. If you only watch one of these films, I’d make it this one!
Written and directed by Timothy X Atack, I was keen to see All My Dreams on VHS as it starred O-T Fagbenle (an actor who I really liked despite being in one of the worst things I’ve seen this year) and Gugu Mbatha-Raw whom I suspect the theatre has now lost to television and film. James has got himself a nifty bit of technology that means that he can record all of his dreams onto VHS and so never forget them but when one of his work colleagues Lorna pays a visit and begins to have a hunt around in his collection, not everything quite goes to plan. There’s a great little story in here, despite or maybe because of the short length, and I loved the way it unfolded, the reveals are done extremely well, and vindicating my choice in the wry coda, the wonderfully warm Fagbenle unleashes a gorgeous chuckle which will ensure I look him up in whatever he stars in next.
Written and directed by Dylan and Blake Ritson, Love Hate is probably the most traditional of the films in this bunch as it is a good 20 minutes long and so played out in a more conventional style – not that that is a bad thing, it is just makes it a completely kettle of fish compared to the two minutes of I Do. Ben Whishaw takes on the lead role of Tom, a bit of a wet blanket who is eminently unsuited to working life as a chugger, but whose life takes on a radical change when his inner id is unleashed in the form of a reckless wildchild, played with gleeful abandon by Hayley Atwell. There’s a few great spots for some brief theatrical cameos – although easily guessed if you know your theatrical dynasties – but this is mainly about the great performances from Whishaw and Atwell and the extraordinary chemistry that they build.
One thing I particularly love about short films is the many opportunities it offers of seeing theatre actors in a different context. It seems like Harry Hadden-Paton is rarely seen on stage in modern material, he does do period so very well, so I loved being able to catch him in Idle Hands (also, the scruffy unshaven look, I approve!) which he co-wrote with director Arthur Landon. It’s random, as so many short films are, but quirkily amusing as a man, killing time in a coffee shop, reaps the unexpected consequences of making a deal with a grizzled stranger – Timothy West.
And last but not least is Eats, Shoots and Leaves, an amusingly random piece by Daniel Brierly, a mock nature documentary complete with David Attenborough sound-a-like, which gives voice to a panda couple who are trying to copulate in the wilderness. But their natural environment has been invaded by humans in art, as in life, and with a couple casually shagging to one side, crisp-guzzling yobs to the other, Brierly rather subtly makes his point about the unsustainability of human expansion and the consequent impact it has on our natural surroundings. Olivia Williams and husband Rhashan Stone provide the voices for the pandas to great comic effect making this three minutes well spent.