Short Film Review #11

The latest set of short films that have crossed my path.

I haven’t covered any animated films before, but the voice cast for Cooked was just too irresistible, featuring as it does Katherine Parkinson, Stephen Mangan and David Morrissey. And I’m glad I did as this tale of an everyday love triangle between a walrus, a lobster and a seal by German animators Jens & Anna is just adorable. My limited experience in the field makes the comparison with Aardman’s work a little lazy but it really does have some of the same fresh and quirky sense of humour about it and visually it looks really impressive, using a variety of techniques to create something that feels nicely different. At barely six minutes long, you should definitely give this a watch.Albert’s Speech 

 

The beauty of short film-making is that it really can liberate the creative side of things without too great an element of risk and so it is always great to see people utilising its potential. Albert’s Speech, a film by Richard Fenwick, is one of those films, mixing live action with all kinds of animation to make this tale of a best man’s pre-speech nerves into something much more fascinating and funny as Albert – a sweatily convincing Nicholas Burns – runs through permutations of what could go wrong and possibilities of escape in the moments before he is due to speak at his best friend’s wedding. Fenwick, who also directs, shows a huge amount of imagination in filling his film with a large array of brilliant touches, including some just tiny details, which make up quite an endearing watch.

Antony & the Johnsons are one of my favourite bands and so using one of their songs – the Spiralling of the title – sets standards extremely high but it soon becomes clear that the soundtrack to Nick Hillel and Max Pugh’s film is a carefully selected collection of some great tunes which really match its hard-hitting content. Devised by Pugh in collaboration with the National Youth Theatre, it’s a slow-burning, nerve-tensing portrayal of a relationship between a teenage schoolgirl and a slightly older boy which soon deteriorates into the murky world of domestic violence. 

David Judge is powerfully effective as a young man unafraid to manipulate physically, emotionally, sexually and Sophie Willcox-Jones balances Lucy’s naïveté with enough teenage nous to make her a sadly all-too-believable character. The scenes with the supporting cast sometimes betray the youth theatre origins but there’s a great cameo from Zawe Ashton as an eventual confidante and Tia Matthews as the best friend who gets pushed out of the picture. It’s a little lengthy but it is an important story which needs the room to breathe and Hillel and Pugh maintain interest with a range of expressionist shots interspersed into the narrative to make this a worthy film to take a moment to engage with.

Whether it is actually the case or not, When The Hurlyburly’s Done from 2010 looks like a properly big budget affair. The design and its overall look is hugely impressive and it really feels like a teaser from a full feature film rather than a 12 minute short. And suitably, it has an epic sweep to its story featuring an illicit affair, a dying woman and a promise to love beyond death. It may sound a little melodramatic but it is powerfully told by writer/directors Hanna Maria Heidrich and Alex Eslam and in a cleverly prescient bit of casting, Damien Molony appears pre-Being Human but tackling the exact kind of moral dilemma that Hal dealt with on a weekly basis. He carries off the role extremely well, with Fiona Hampton as the blood-soaked woman whose fate rests in his hands. A proper bit of drama to round off this collection. 

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