Way Too Indie Short Film Spotlight #1
The task of making a feature-length film is an incredibly difficult one, which is why short films are so essential to independent filmmaking. At Way Too Indie, we’ve decided to start up a brand new feature that will shine a light on short films. Every month in the Short Film Spotlight we’ll review several shorts submitted to us.
If you’re a filmmaker with a short you’d like us to consider for a review in our feature, you can submit your film here. Be sure to include a synopsis, promotional materials (preferably a photo or poster) and a link to your short film. Now, on to the reviews.
A short that’s timed perfectly for the election year, Party Politics is an attempt at satirizing the lack of communication between people when it comes to discussing politics. Taking the POV of a server at a surprise party, the short goes down a checklist of types like Occupy Wall Street protesters, 9/11 truthers and right wingers who think Obama practices Islam. Tom, the guest of honour who has yet to arrive, joined the Occupy movement after getting laid off from his corporate job which explains why these people would even be in a room together in the first place.
The bulk of the short is done in what appears to be one take as the server goes across the room hearing bits and pieces of everyone’s conversations. It may feel gimmicky but the transitions are mostly seamless (there’s definitely some editing used but it’s hard to notice) and the fact that they pulled it off so well is impressive on its own. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the writing, with plenty of bad jokes that repeatedly fall flat. Everything is played as broadly as possible to the point where these characters would feel out of place in an SNL sketch. Party Politics is a satire without any bite to it, and while it’s impressively made, watching it is about as much fun as discussing politics at a party.
Review by: C.J. Prince
Taking place mostly on an El train, So Pretty is about a woman who meets a man who is something she has always dreamed of but also something she didn’t know she couldn’t handle. Life’s grand isn’t it? You wish something for yourself and it ends up being something you never thought you’d hate. Well, that’s life. The truth hurts sometimes.
Lisa is on her way home from a long day at work. She’s dressed in scrubs so I’m assuming she’s a nurse. She’s on the train with only a few other people. An older gentleman, a man covered in tattoos and a woman who is either strung out on drugs or is having the worst day of her life. Lisa is biding her time with engrossing herself in a book. I don’t recall them mentioning the name “Twilight” in the short running time, but I could easily tell that she was reading that book.
While she parades her eyes across the pages of her books a man named Sean sits down next to her and begins a seemingly nice conversation with Lisa. They talk about one of Lisa’s favorite subjects. Vampires. Lisa admits that she is not a fan of older vampire films and/or stories. When Sean brings up Bram Stoker, Lisa has no idea who that is. Lisa talks about how romantic the idea of a life as a vampire could be. Sean then informs her of the darker more grotesque side of it. Then the film gets grotesque itself.
So Pretty is really good at being coy with the audience about what is really happening and dances ever so slightly around hints that would reveal what inevitably happens. Don’t get me wrong, it’s easy to see where things are going, but the film doesn’t exactly lay it out either. The thing that keeps So Pretty from being a good short film is its blatant hatred of Twilight’s treatment of vampires and how people perceive them now. In that series they are brooding, glittering wussies. So Pretty wants you to remember how violent vampires are (and does it well mind you), it’s just unfortunate that it brings too much of a message along with it.
Review by: Blake Ginithan
On Top is a 7 minute short about a high class prostitute who tries to justify her profession but also it’s about how knowing the right people can be crucial in life. She admits that she does not do it for the money because when you are already at the top, you do not need to work, you choose to. Unlike most women in her line of work, she did not have a traumatic up-bringing. In fact, her parents never have so much as missed a birthday of hers in her life. So then why does she continue to do this? She claims that she just wants to make people happy but the likely reason is that she likes the control and power she receives from it.
The first thing you will probably notice while watching On Top is how well the short is filmed. The quality of the picture, the lighting of scenes, and the beauty of the cityscapes are magnificent. The second thing you will notice is the mediocre acting and dialog. Wisely, there is a lot of voiceover done by the lead which works way better than when she must interact with people in scenes that almost always plays out awkwardly.
I admit that the double meaning of the title is quite cleaver, referring to both her profession and being the best, but the film as a whole was not. It spent just as much (if not more) time trying to justify high class prostitute as it did with the real meaning of the film. What ended up working the best was what happened between the scenes with the camera work and cinematography. Unfortunately, scenes that consisted of dialog or interactive acting were the weakest part.
Review by: Dustin Jansick