Short film reviews #8

Another collection of short films that I’ve been pointed to or had recommended to me and which I’ve enjoyed watching. If you have anything you think I should see, drop me an email at the address on the sidebar, and to read other short film reviews, click on the ‘film’ tag at the end of the post.

The Door (trailer) from Andrew Steggall on Vimeo.

Based on the HG Wells tale The Door in the Wall, Andrew Steggall’s short film The Door is a rather lovely piece of film – with a stunningly good cast – which delves into the ambiguous world of between personal memory and boyhood fantasy as an older man tries to make sense of a key event from his past. Charles Dance plays the older Thomas Arlington with a resigned enigmatic quality as he debates with his son, a sharply-suited Elliot Cowan, but clearly distracted by his memory of discovering a magical green door into a extraordinary world.

In that world, discovered with a sweetly boyish charm by Thomas Hardiman’s younger Thomas, is all manner of wonderment, evocative of Alice’s Wonderland and peopled by the likes of an achingly moving Harriet Walter, Tobias Menzies’ Bourne-like swan-angel and Michael Culkin’s clock-obsessed king. Its fable-like story remains something of a mystery but is all the more powerful for it. Steggall directs with a gorgeously sweeping cinematic vision, aided beautifully by Jools Scott’s sumptuous score, and it is definitely worth keeping an eye out for any opportunity to catch it.

Spirit Children

Spirit Children from Kehinde Fadipe on Vimeo.

Sadly I can’t embed the video but here is the link to watch it online.
It’s always nice to see creative relationships continue in different forms and though their connections may well have been previously made, short film Spirit Children sees a number of the cast of the Almeida’s 2010 hit Ruined reunited. Written and directed by Kehinde Fadipe, Jenny Jules’ mother is a mentally disturbed woman and cared for by her struggling children. One day to please her, her daughter, Pippa Bennett-Warner, and her twin brother played by Jahvel Hall set out to obtain something special to make her happy with terrible consequences.

Played out near-wordlessly, Fadipe’s film is really quite beautiful. Gorgeously lingering shots of the mini adventure are accompanied by a highly evocative score from Nate Connelly and yet each is packed full of meaning and story-telling. We learn so much about the relationship between the twin children and how their power dynamic is fixed, Jules speaks huge volumes with just the smallest shift in her mouth and the whole 9 minutes is quietly moving.

Aw, Robin Baker’s 10 minute tale of an evening between two gay colleagues in East London is really quite good fun and sweet-hearted. Daniel Ryan and Navin Chowdhry bump into each other coming out of a supermarket and decide to go for a drink, something Ryan’s Colin is rather more keen on than Chowdhry’s Naveen. What follows is an increasingly messy night out as they go to drink, eat, drink, club and drink some more, all the time talking about and working on their sexual frustration. But where Naveen is after instant satisfaction, Colin is on the lookout for something more meaningful and so it is an unlikely match.

Ryan and Chowdhry make a great pairing, the former’s reticence most endearing, the latter’s roving eye full of confident swagger and as they follow their paths through the haze of alcohol-fuelled libido, Baker incorporates a backdrop of the fast-moving East London landscape and a cross-section of some of the people that make it up. A deceptively simple but effective film.

Between Us is another simple story about the potential held in fleeting encounters. Charlotte Bruus Christensen’s film, co-directed with Stefan Mørk, is set across two cars stuck in a traffic jam as a boy and a girl spot each other through their windows of their cars and albeit with limited communication, form something of a connection. Their worlds may be completely different: Lukas’ family are argumentative and working class and the window of their banger won’t wind down and Amanda’s is all loving middle class and electric windows, but they bond over the shared boredom of sitting alone in the back seat and their CD listening habits.

Luke Bromley and Madeline Duggan were both sweet enough to make us forgive the fact their CD of choice was Robbie Williams’ Escapology and their acting – mostly wordless – really is engaging and rather adorably captured by Christensen and Mørk. Amanda Drew and Robbie Bowman made a good pair of bickering parents for Lukas too and made for a charming film.  


In all honesty, Ruairi Robinson’s The Silent City wouldn’t be my regular cup of tea to watch, but it was recommended to me on Twitter so I sat down to it regardless. A cross between a war film and a computer game, it calls to mind films like 28 Days Later and Resident Evil with its visual effects, horror tinged imagery and abandoned cityscape through which 3 bloodied soldiers are trying to execute a mission. And with its short running time and cliffhanger ending, it has the feeling of a taster of something conceived to be larger rather than as a piece of film in and of itself. So it is a mildly diverting watch, Murphy appears briefly for those interested in him, but it’s hardly essential stuff.  

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