The Joy of Six
Six short films packaged together on a handy single DVD and featuring some tip top actors, it’s a wonder it’s taken me this long to get round to watching it! I’ve added trailers and clips where I could find them, but I’d say the combined set is worth the investment if shorts are your thing.
Any film that has La Dench saying ‘boom!’ has to be worth your time and in Friend Request Pending, there’s so much more to enjoy as well. Quite how director Chris Foggin and writer Chris Croucher managed to get a Dame of the realm involved heaven knows but it pays off fabulously as Dench’s Mary dips a toe into the world of social networking after meeting a guy at an event and ends up cyber-stalking him in order to get a proper date. It’s as hilarious as you’d think it would be and brilliantly observed too – “can he hear me?” – you’ll laugh for days.
Dan Sully’s The Ellington Kid is a short and speedy take on the mythologisation of urban legends as two friends scoff a kebab in a London caff and discuss the story of a guy they’ve heard about who got…well, you need to watch to find out. Sully intercuts this with effective flashbacks of the legend and manages to evoke a compelling sense of the grimmer edges of London life and offers an amusingly troubling answer to exactly what type of meat it is that ends up in our kebabs.
Another short and sweet one, Douglas Hart’s Long Distance Information toys brilliantly with stereotypical notions of perfunctory phone calls home and stars Peter Mullan in a perfectly cast role. Pretty much all you need to know!
A Kafka-esque film from Will Jewell, Man In Fear sees the ever-strong Luke Treadaway as the troubled Anthony Fox, a man convinced that someone or something is out to kill him by staging accidents all around the place. It’s very well executed as things become more and more convoluted and the truth of the matter is less and less clear cut – James Lance is utilised most effectively too.
Marking Romola Garai’s debut as both writer and director, Scrubber is a rather haunting tale of a young mother who is restless in her dull suburban home and is seeking excitement in the unexpected. Amanda Hale is her usual, intensely focused self as Jenny, who may be a bit depressed and OCD, or just a bit horny and bored. Either way, Garai suggests that she can find freedom in the surrounding countryside and the men she can find there, it’s just a case of squaring that with her role as a wife and mother. Interesting, thorny work from an actor whom I much like and who on this evidence, could well turn out to be an interesting creative force.
Probably my least favourite out of this selection, Matthew Holness’ A Gun for George is a tragicomic tale of a real-life pulp fiction author Terry Finch who gained a cult following but never achieved the breakthrough success he craved. An imagined sketch of how his disappointments might have shaped his life, Holness suggests Finch may have had difficulty separating fact from fiction which has a certain interest but by and large, this never really fired my imagination.