Doug Rao came to my attention as part of the Spanish Golden Age ensemble currently at the Arcola and I was intrigued to see he was an acclaimed writer and director as well as an actor. His debut short film War Hero hit the festival circuit in 2007 and it isn’t hard to see how it was considered worthy. A densely packed story set in a military hospital , Rao poses questions about the morality of warfare (particularly in Iraq), its effects on the individuals tasked with carrying out the orders and the collateral damage it inevitably collects.
Written and directed by first-time film maker (and rather good actor) Chris New, Ticking is a rather eloquently moving tale based on a story by Matthew Allard. Scott Chambers’ Eric is superficially your everyday youth except, perhaps, a little more intense than the usual, as his mind cycles through the trials of being a teenager –the distractions of the lovely Olivia, the mystery of a bomb threat, the hopelessness of suburban existence. New carefully balances the film on a knife-edge of tension – one is never entirely sure where the film will go, how dark the event s will turn, yet it always remains compelling and is beautifully shot, the muted colour palette gorgeous in its textured depth. Recommended.
Wheels of Fortune
A spiky little 10 minute comedy, Wheels of Fortune was written by Jason Maza and David Proud and stars them both as actors who frequently bump into each other on the audition circuit. But Maza’s Richard always seems to get the jobs and has consequently become a high-profile actor whilst Proud’s Gareth always loses out. This time round though reveals more about both men than either were expecting and it is cleverly done, astute in its observations and bitterly wry about the realities of being a jobbing actor within a niche.
Without giving too much away, Orient is a well-observed short that explores the limited range of options for East Asian women in contemporary (Western?) society. Daniel York’s film works its way through a number of the stereotypes that they face, the all-too-familiar ways in which they are depicted on screen, something highlighted by having the same actor – Jennifer Lim – playing them all. Short but pointed.
Acting = Intensity + Rebellion
A bit of fun from Henry Lloyd-Hughes on Funny or Die (with bonus cameo from Adam James) about a pretentious airhead of an actor. It’s basically one extended joke but does raise a couple of smiles.
And to finish this post off, a short short. For Her was produced by students at Ravensbourne university and has since been accepted into film festivals around the world. Written by Dan McKenna and Stepan Panov, it is a simple but effective sketch between two men about to undergo something horrific. It is shot most convincingly as a gritty crime caper which only makes the payoff even greater once it comes – an impressive piece of work.