Short Film Review #55

 

I have a thing about spiral staircases and though the one at the heart of The Last Ten is squared off, it is still freaky as shit. A genuinely disturbing film that is ingeniously conceived and shot by David Higgs with some fantastic cinematography from Nicole Heiniger, it’s all about the perspective as a single camera looking down the middle of a stairwell captures the story of a man returning home to find…well, that would be giving it away. Hitchcock-inspired brilliance, just don’t watch it on your own, or in the dark.


 

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Short Film Review: The Orphan of Zhao Redux

“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”

Short Film Review: Out of Darkness

“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”

Short Film Review #54

 
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.

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Short Film Review #53

 


A nightmare audition is nothing new but Jonathan Kydd’s 15 minute Shakespeare’s Wart is an inspired take on the hoary old trope. Kydd plays the auditionee in front of Peter Wight and Bill Fellows as a bad cop bad cop pair of auditioners who send him on a ridiculous journey of improv work, daft accents and crocodile chasing as he bids for a part in Henry IV Part II. It’s a little slow to get started but in its latter half, becomes genuinely hilarious as the demands become ever more extreme whilst Wight and Fellows remain as deadpan as ever in the face of such silliness. 


Short Film Review: #52

 

An achingly beautiful story of two former lovers who meet up again over a pint and rehash some painful personal history. Declan Feenan’s writing is deliberately spare as the pair skirt around the real issues that are on the table and as the tension ratchets up towards the end, there’s still a very powerful use of poetic language, almost hypnotic in its telling. It helps that my newest crush Liz White is the one detailing what was done to her as a bedraggled Con O’Neill hangs his head in shame, and Jonathan Humphrey’s direction ensures a beautiful sense of imagery permeates the film, whether in profile shots or the dream-like reminiscences that can never be forgotten. Highly recommended.


 

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Short Film Review #51


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”

Short Film Review #50

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.