January 27, 2012

Sundance Review: Shorts Program II

Shorts are interesting little buggers aren't they. In a way they are the more challenging movie to make, but they are also, in a way, easier to talk about. It's not easy to condense a full story into a 10 minute film, but when it comes time to discuss it, everything you saw is easier to pick out. Shorts Program II had seven films attached to it, and all followed the theme of searching for connection. Some were great, some good.

'92 Skybox Alonzo Mourning Rookie Card
This one was one of my two favorites. It deals with two brothers who bicker and squabble at their father's funeral, mostly due to the one brother's childish antics. It's absolutely hysterical and presents a very honest  look at a brotherhood that has been tested by distance and absence. Top shelf!

The Arm
I liked this one too, but it has it's problems. It presents the story of two teens who enter into a relationship, as far as we know, solely through texting. And then, the girl dies in a car accident, and the boy is expected to make some grand speech at her funeral because she was sooooo in love with him, and he doesn't really know what to do. It has a delightfully offbeat and twisted sense of humor; I found myself laughing when I know I shouldn't have been. But it ends very abruptly, right when it seemed like the message was about to be revealed. Maybe that was sort of the point.

The Black Balloon
Fun Fact: This just won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short.
Amongst a cluster of multi-colored balloons, there is one black one. When it is separated from the group, this black balloon wanders New York City, looking for something. This one is probably my favorite. It's absolutely beautiful. The balloon is a real character, and an emotional one at that, and all the people it interacts with are varied and interesting. And this ending is very touching.

A 30 something year old woman is invited to party with a group of 20 something boys. That's all. Nothing really happens in this one, and it ends very suddenly. Nothing much to say here.

A weird but lucrative premise is, again, squandered by a sudden ending. A small boy spends his days luring woodland animals into the street by the motel he and his dad run, so that they will be hit by cars. After that, he scrapes up the corpse, and his dad gives him a quarter, which goes to his Florida fund. It sounds cool, but there's nothing more to it. It's kinda funny, but it's not enough.

Ok Breathe Auralee
Once again with the abrupt ending. Auralee is a New York woman who wants to have a baby, but her boyfriend isn't all that keen on it. Then there's a man who she keeps running into who seems interesting, and then there's this weird thing where she seems to turn invisible. There's a lot in this thing, but since it's only 16 minutes long it's not explored all that much. And it ends with no resolution at all. Infuriating.

The Return
A soldier who has spent many of the last couple of years in a prison in some far off land finally returns home to his wife and the child he barely knows. That night, revelations are presented that shake both him and his wife to the core. This one is not bad at all, and at 21 minutes, it's more than capable of fleshing everything out.

Did you notice a theme? A lot of the movies ended too soon for me, losing out on opportunities to explore some interesting subject matter. Just because it's classified as a Short doesn't mean it needs to be shorter than a yawn. A twenty five minute film can still be considered a short. But, it was a interesting and lively collection of films that entertained and touched, so... job well done!

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