Way Too Indie Short Film Spotlight #2
Wrong Cops: Chapter 1
Quentin Dupieux, who might be known to most people as Mr. Oizo, has definitely earned his place as one of the wackier directors working today. His directorial debut Rubber was a funny and surprisingly clever film that most people know as the movie with the killer tire. His follow-up, Wrong, went in even more out there directions than Rubber but was lacking a lot of humour. Now Dupieux returns with Wrong Cops, a series of interconnected short films he’s making as the funding comes in. Chapter 1, which premiered at Cannes’ 2012 Director’s Fortnight festival, is a welcome return to form for Dupieux.
A cop (Mark Burnham) goes around town dealing drugs on the side when he decides to take a teenager (Marilyn Manson) hostage to show the kid what ‘real music’ is. Burnham and Manson fully commit to their roles, and the absurdist tone works wonders. Dupieux, shooting for the first time in Scope, shows how much his skills behind the camera have improved since Rubber. So far two other chapters have been finished, with the intention of compiling 7 chapters into a feature-length film by the summer. I personally can’t wait to get back into Dupieux’s weird little universe again, and hope the rest of Wrong Cops lives up to the same quality as Chapter 1.
The Way The World Ends
I have become very fond of short films, and this year I have had the opportunity to see a number of magnificently shot, exciting visual stories condensed into a mere 10 minutes, if that – and The Way the World Ends is no exception. With wonderful imagery, impressive special effects and a deep storyline, director Matthew B. Wolff captures the essence perfectly, of a man’s inner pain.
Dave (Joseph Buttler) wakes to find his wife not beside him in bed and instead she is stood at the window peering out onto the street. She looks to her husband and says “The sun is gone – it didn’t rise” to which Dave shrugs off and heads back to sleep not wanting to believe what his wife had just said. These shots are placed together alongside a scene where Dave is stood right in front of the camera with sweat dripping from his forehead – he is talking to a psychiatrist; we do not know why.
When both stand at the window the streets are empty, Dave’s wife describes the texture and colour as identical to “a dolphin’s skin” – the world is simply grey. With fourteen minutes of footage this short does extremely well to portray everything it needs to. Each scene and each moment is not wasted; they describe exactly everything the director wants them to – emotion, loneliness, confusion, colourless and empty. Dave continues his day as normal but is confused by how everyone else at his work refuses to acknowledge that the world has ended. Still intercutting with the scene where Dave is sat with his psychiatrist, we’re developing a sense of what’s happening. In the last few minutes colour is introduced and this takes shape through nature and through children innocently playing on a trampoline; defining the purity of life. This last moment of the film can be perceived as when Dave has finally found closure.
There are several moments in The Way the World Ends where scenes may seem familiar in style as the opening sequence for example is very Alfred Hitchcock, and the snap shot when the alarm goes off is the same as that from American Beauty. I loved this short film; it really was special, beautifully crafted and brilliantly edited together.
Before he exploded onto the movie scene with his groundbreaking feature debut with Cube, Canadian filmmaker Vincenzo Natali made the 17 minute short film entitled, Elevated. The most impressive feat here is that it accomplishes more in its short runtime than most full-length films tend to do. Using creative filmmaking techniques, it is successful in creating suspense with just three characters that are contained in an elevator nearly the entire time. Elevated is so efficient that it even has time for a nice plot twist, resulting in a bone-chilling ending.
The film begins with two strangers, Ellen (Vickie Papavs) and Ben (Bruce McFee), riding an elevator down a large story building. The elevator stops before their destined floor, but the doors open to reveal no one outside the elevator. Just before the doors close a security guard named Hank bursts into the elevator in extreme panic. Hank explains that they must go up to the top floor immediately as there are dangerous creatures lurking in the building. The two become suspicious as Hank is covered in blood, which he admits is not his.
Elevated and Cube both share a lot of similarities; they feature a small group of people confined in a limited space with an unknown villain at work. Both films are as enthralling as they are thrilling and make you question what exactly is happening. Being that this was his first film, Elevated was naturally less polished in some areas, most noticeably in the editing, but was an impressive debut nonetheless.
If I Am Your Mirror
If I Am Your Mirror, inspired by Edgar Allen Poe’s horror classic, The Tell-Tale Heart, is a twisted, bloody interpretation of the original horror classic. Director Garrett DeHart employs a rich, painterly visual style to tell his unique version of the tale. Whether you are familiar with the source material or not (you should be, as it is a haunting 10 minute read that will stay with you forever), it’s a mesmerizing watch from beginning to end.
In the original short, an unnamed narrator tries desperately to convince the reader of his sanity, while simultaneously recounting an unsettling murder he’s committed. DeHart sets the tale in post-civil war America and expands on Poe’s story by chronicling key events that led to the unnamed man’s descent into madness, and the fatal consequences of his actions. DeHart uses dialog sparingly and fastidiously, utilizing pure cinematic storytelling which acts as an amusing juxtaposition to the penned source material.
The arresting visuals (animated environments, live-action actors) channel the deep, rich tones and grim sense of terror of paintings from the romantic period and complement the macabre tone of the story perfectly. The animated sets are rendered well and appear dirty, murky and soiled (in the best way.) When the camera moves, the various elements that make up the environment shift and slide like a demented pop-up book. The actors are treated with an interesting effect that could be described as a painterly form of rotoscoping. Though the effect can be occasionally jarring (especially in long shots), it is mostly effective and helps to marry the actors with their animated surroundings.
Larry Holden stars as the unnamed man and puts on a heart-wrenching performance. If I Am Your Mirror is a chilling and emotional take on Poe’s classic, though it can certainly stand on its own legs as a work of art.
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