Thursday, 7 June 2012

Worldwide Short Film Festival:TONIGHT! An Evening with Dame Judi Dench and Friends

Tonight's Worldwide Shorts Film Festival programme of Celebrity Shorts is a gift of wonderful films that have the have the added bonus of featuring known actors of the big and small screen. Of the eight films in this programme, I thoroughly enjoyed seven of them, and was amused by the eighth.

Thursday, June 7, 7:45 pm
Bloor Cinema, 756 Bloor Street

Penny Ryder and Dame Judi Dench
FRIEND REQUEST PENDING. It was such a pleasure watching Dame Judi Dench act as a giddy school girl over linking up with a man via the internet! I watched this screener twice, and encourage you to go out and see it on the big screen tonight at the Bloor Cinema. As her BFF, Penny Ryder, is the perfect foil, lending encouragement to Dench with suggestions and advice. Romance and tech talk is not just for the younger generation any more, so don't be surprised who is poking whom these days;-)

Rita Wilson and Anna Paquin
THE CARRIER. Actress Rita Wilson (It's Complicated, Sleepless in Seattle) gives a nuanced performance as a woman grieving the accidental death of her son while having the added responsibility of tying up some of his lose ends. As we watch her meet with her son's former lovers we gain insight into the son's character as well as the dynamics that must have been at play with the mother-son relationship. The film's conclusion may not be a surprise to some, but that still doesn't mean the consequences are any less morally complicated. Director, Scott Schaeffer does a brilliant job of unfolding Colin Borden's screenplay.

David Duchovny voices Beaufort 
THE BEAUFORT DIARIES. In a nod to his Red Shoes Diaries days, David Duchovny narrates this seamy tale of Beaufort the Polar bear, as he moves from his arctic home to the hedonistic lifestyle of  L.A.  Duchovny's dry delivery bumps up the humour level of the salty monologue with its Hollywoodisms. I howled (yes, indeedy, I did!) at his retelling of what playwright David Mamet told him to go do...Four minutes of fun.

Martin Freeman (left)
 Tom Hollander (right)
THE VOORMAN PROBLEM. An eminent psychiatrist (Martin Freeman of Sherlock, Love Actually) is called in to a help a desperate prison warden deal with an inmate who thinks that he is God in this interesting take on the "God" myth. Freeman is perfect as the stuffed-shirt psychiatrist who thinks he has seen it and knows it all, while Tom Hollander (Pirates of the Caribbean) matches him theory for theory in this seductive game of reality versus madness. ...and the winner is?

Charlotte Rampling

 THE END. It's always such a joy to see Charlotte Rampling (Swimming Pool, Melancholia, The Verdict, Viva la vie) on screen. In this case, though, Rampling is dealing with her own disappearance from her films. In this world, technology has taken over and aging actresses and actors are being digitally removed from their films and replaced by younger actors. Not so far fetched a concept, is it? Black and White films have been colorized, Fred Astaire danced with a vacuum cleaner in a commercial, and Avatar starred a blue girl. This film covers many themes, so I will leave it up to you to decide which way you want to interpret it. Well-executed by Barcelo whose screenplay (co-written by Benjamin Parent) is infused with just the right amount of black humour to bring out the absurdity and horror of Ramplings situation.

John Malkovich
BUTTERFLIES. I wish director/cinematographer Sandro Miller's 2-minute experimental short was actually a bit longer, but knowing how time-consuming it takes to do stop-motion animation, I can only compliment this film making team on producing a captivating short about the sometimes mind-altering effects of television.  They also chose the perfect actor to star in this piece. John Malkovich can communicate an entire Victorian novel with a raised eyebrow and in this short he encapsulates our collective tv-viewing consciousness in 120 seconds of sitting in a chair.

Michael Fassbinder (left)
Liam Cunningham (right)
PITCH BLACK HEIST. As the title suggests, this bank job is to be carried out in the dark. As the robbers, Fassbiner (Shame) and Cunningham (Game of Thrones) are brought together by a third party, who lays out the scenario of the heist. We watch as the two train blind-folded, and endure the wait along with them as they sit in a pub anticipating the go-ahead from their boss.   By choosing to shoot in black and white (and in 35MM, no less), director John MacLean achieves a stark, silvery coldness and shadowy depth that enhance this well-acted Irish crime drama.

Rainn Wilson
BLITZEN TRAPPER MASSACRE. What I liked about Rainn Wilson's short, is that it introduced me to the folk/country group Blitzen Trapper. What I didn't like was how long this 7-minute short seemed. Rainn plays a pesky, wanna-be musician who gets turned down by the group. He then decides to take them out one by one. What could have been a satiric comedy is ruined by unnecessary plot details and too much screen time for Wilson. Cut this down to 3-4 minutes and it could have been a good laugh.

JUNE 5 - 10

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