“What can ordinary people do?”
Based on The Great Revenge of the Orphan of Zhao by Ji Junxiang and mixing in texts from numerous other writers, Daniel York’s The Orphan of Zhao Redux is a most enchanting thing indeed. The play is perhaps sadly most notorious, in recent years at least, for being at the centre of a controversy when the RSC cast just three East Asian actors in minor roles (out of seventeen in total) in what has been known as the Chinese Hamlet, such is the piece’s significance. But York fully wrests ownership away from such unsavouriness to produce a gorgeous eight minute short that is a brilliant showcase for what might have been.
The film features fourteen leading lights of the British East Asian acting scene, the narrative scattered between them all and the text reshaped into something of a poem as just as much feeling as storytelling emerges through the individual lines. Ikin Yum’s stunning monochrome cinematography has been astutely edited by Andrew Koji and the beautifully evocative music underscores the whole affair with just the right level of intrigue and emotion. Not knowing the play didn’t matter a jot, the film stirs something elemental – especially in its haunting final minute – and had me thoroughly hooked from the start. Continue reading “Short Film Review: The Orphan of Zhao Redux”
“I have hundreds of souls dancing inside of me.”
It’s hard to explain just how devastatingly moving Out of Darkness is. Written and directed by Manjinder Virk, it sees 9 people tell a story – the same story or maybe their own – the narrative is fragmented and shared by all. Ostensibly it is the same story, the varied experiences of death that an aid worker has gone through, but in the hands of this company, it is enriched, enhanced, expanded so that it does feel different in each of their hands.
And what a cast Virk has assembled here, all shot from their head and shoulders – Tom Hiddleston may be the better known but my heart leapt to see Monica Dolan and Noma Dumezweni in there and in the stark black and white cinematography that makes the headshots feel like portraiture make it simply gorgeous to look at. Continue reading “Short Film Review: Out of Darkness”
A full-on Irish history epic, Tom Waller’s Eviction is an unflinching look at the difficult relations in 19th century Ireland with fearsome English landlords putting the frighteners on their Irish tenants and pushing them to ever more desperate measures. It’s really quite shocking but very well done and the production values are excellent – Gay Hian Teoh’s cinematography and Eddie Hamilton’s editing are top notch and a cast that includes Cillian Murphy and Rupert Vansittart make this well worth watching.
The Young Vic continue their always-exciting set of short films that accompany and act as responses to their main house programming with Mayday, inspired by Happy Days from earlier in the year and starring its extraordinary lead Juliet Stevenson. Here she plays May, a women left paralysed after an accident and when freak weather occurrences leave her trapped in her bed, the Beckettian waiting begins. Written by Nancy Harris and also starring Tanya Moodie and David Beames in supporting roles, it’s a clever take on the familiar story and very much plays into notions of metropolitan loneliness. Continue reading “Short Film Review #51”
Passenger from HMT Productions on Vimeo.
Aaaarrgghhh – proof positive as if it were ever needed that you shouldn’t ever talk to strangers on the tube. Ed Rigg’s Passenger follows a couple at the end of a long day as they catch the Victoria Line up to Walthamstow Central and make the fatal mistake of making eye contact with the guy sitting opposite after a mildly amusing episode. Sara Vickers and Mark Quartley do a great job at capturing the helpless awkwardness of the situation but Samuel Edward-Cook really excels as the ex-serviceman who won’t leave them alone, invading their headspace as well as their personal space as the encounter becomes more and more chilling. Great work.
A second instalment for Tupaq Felber’s Expectation Management, seeing Jon Foster’s Owen remaining unlucky in love and dating, not least because of the efforts of his friends. It’s not quite as funny as the first but still rather good fun. Continue reading “Short Film Review #46”