An Irish short from 2009 written and directed by Hugh O’Conor, Corduroy is a simply gorgeous piece of film. Inspired by a charity that teaches autistic children to surf, we dip briefly but powerfully into the life of Jessie, a young woman whose Asperger Syndrome has left her deeply depressed. With gentle encouragement from a support worker, she is introduced to the sea and all its power and possibly, just possibly, begins to hope that life might get a little brighter.
It’s extraordinarily acted by Caoilfhionn Dunne as Jessie, movingly understated and painfully authentic in its awkwardness, the glimmers of connection with Domhnall Gleeson’s Mahon are played just right. But it is O’Conor’s direction which is just superb, adroitly suggesting the different way in which people at different points on the autistic spectrum might see and hear the world – audio and visual effects employed with intelligence and compassion to offer insight, understanding, appreciation. Highly recommended.
Based on the FG Cottam novel of the same name, The Waiting Room is one of those rare beasts indeed – a genuinely scary ghost story/thriller. Dominic Mafham plays Julian, a rugged ex-soldier who has been employed to investigate some strange goings-on at the waiting room of a Kent railway station with his assistant, Matti Houghton’s Elena. It soon turns out that the ghosts of the past are somehow connected to the shadows of the present and over the course of the longest of nights, Julian must confront something very dark indeed.
Robert Perkins directs with carefully balanced skill, an eerie sense of menace infused throughout the whole film as we flit from 1916 to the present day and DoP Carlos de Carvalho works wonder in the darkness of the night, creating some gorgeous shots that are as beautiful as they are haunting. And there’s a chilling sense of how what some would consider the supernatural can be rooted in things that are all too real. Not one to watch just before bedtime!
Described as a sci-fi music short, Mathy and Fran’s The Lights and then the Noise stars Emily Taaffe and punk band No Age in a visceral four minute burst that is as much music video as it is short film, cleverly juxtaposing the strangeness of an alien abduction with the fierce intensity of a first ever punk gig. It may be short but it’s punchily effective, vividly portraying a kind of out-of-body experience which is neither one thing nor the other, or maybe it’s both. The hallucinatory sonic and visual palette pulls us into the exhilarating sense of joy that comes from live performance and also relents to give us the crashing down back to real life as we come home and go to bed with a glass of milk.
The video has sat on my unwatched list for ages now and quite how those that were responsible for the recommendation managed to not give away the main reason they knew I’d like it, I do not know. For the film has a (uncredited) cameo from none other than my beloved Alexandra Gilbreath and I am so glad I didn’t know as there’s little pleasure so grand for me as spotting an actor I love. That the film – Boy – is as good as it is could well be inconsequential, such is my regard for the Gilbreath, but it really is a rather lovely thing indeed. Prasanna Puwanarajah’s film is a wordless affair, Alex Heffes’ plangent music dominating the soundscape, as Timothy Spall’s father processes the grief of losing a son.
A budding cyclist, he was involved in some kind of fatal RTA and as Spall continues his job at the local velodrome, he is surrounded by constant memories of his child. Puwanarajah intercuts a whole of range of scenes with elegance and no little emotion as the father finally concentrates on fixing a memorial at the cycle track, whilst recalling all kinds of evocative moments from their shared past. The lack of spoken dialogue is especially powerful in suggesting the depth of the relationships of those concerned – even in a few brief moments, Gilbreath emanates maternal love, and the genuine concern of the security guard is equally powerful for what is left unsaid. Recommended.
And a little bit of silliness with which to end. The cast of Spamalot have put together a tribute to their current castmate Bonnie Langford, adapting the recent Duck Sauce song Barbra Streisand to celebrate all things Bonnie and it is rather amusing. It might perhaps go on a little too long, as it is essentially just the one joke, but the affection from the cast is unmistakeable and there’s an iconic Bonnie moment at the end that is worth the wait.