40 years, Action, Alien virus, Ammo, Antonio Fargas, Best friends, Blooming, Coming out, Drama, Ex-boyfriend, Harrison J. Bahe, Holly Valance, Jamie Dornan, Jane LA, Jason Biggs, Jenny Mollen, Julie Benz, Kat Coiro, Kidnapping Caitlynn, Lesbianism, LGBT, Max Landis, Reviews, Sammi Pechman, Sci-fi, Shanae Styles, Short movies, X Returns, Zena Grey
The short movie is an oft-neglected aspect of movie viewing these days, with fewer outlets available to the makers of short movies, and certainly little chance of their efforts being seen in our local multiplexes (the exceptions to these are the animated shorts made to accompany the likes of Pixar’s movies, the occasional cash-in from Disney such as Frozen Fever (2015), and Blue Sky’s Scrat movies). Otherwise it’s an internet platform such as Vimeo, YouTube (a particularly good place to find short movies, including the ones in this post), or brief exposure at a film festival. Even on DVD or Blu-ray, there’s a dearth of short movies on offer. In an attempt to bring some of the gems that are out there to a wider audience, here’s another in an ongoing series of posts that focus on short movies. Who knows? You might find one that becomes a firm favourite – if you do, please let me know.
Jane LA (2014) / D: Max Landis / 12m
Cast: Zena Grey, Russell Henson, Maggie Levin, Hadrian Belove, Anna DeHaan, Max Landis
Rating: 7/10 – A documentary movie maker (Landis) films a young woman, Jane (Grey), who believes that by setting off a bomb in a crowded public place, she’ll bring people closer together (as well as making an artistic statement). With talking head soundbites from some of the people that know her, Jane’s story is played out in a wistful, semi-serious way that keeps the viewer guessing as to whether or not she’s completely serious, or (to be unkind) completely deluded. Landis plays with our perceptions of other people’s truths, while Grey makes Jane lovable and scary at the same time, leading to a final shot that is both haunting and unnerving.
Blooming (2013) / D: Harrison J. Bahe / 10m
Cast: Shanae Styles, Sammi Pechman
Rating: 6/10 – A young woman reveals her sexuality to her best friend… with unexpected results. Though entirely predictable, this is the kind of wish fulfillment tale that stands or falls on the quality of its dialogue and performances, and Bahe’s stripped down narrative is no exception. With an earnest performance from Styles as the young woman afraid to tell her best friend that she’s a lesbian, Blooming does enough to avoid being easily dismissed, but for some viewers, Bahe’s simple approach may be too flat in its presentation.
Kidnapping Caitlynn (2009) / D: Kat Coiro (as Katherine Cunningham-Eves) / 10m
Cast: Jenny Mollen, Jason Biggs, Julie Benz, Rhys Coiro
Rating: 7/10 – Daniel (Coiro) and Emily (Mollen) have split up, but this doesn’t stop Emily from trying to get some of her things back from their house, and despite the locks having been changed. Dragging her new beau Max (Biggs) with her, Emily’s “retrieval” of her things leads to Daniel’s new girlfriend, Caitlynn (Benz) being abducted with everything else. A bright little comedy, Kidnapping Caitlynn is endearing and engaging thanks to assured performances from Mollen and Biggs, and features some great one-liners to show just how deluded Emily is in the way she deals with her break-up.
X Returns (2009) / D: Ammo / 10m
Cast: Jamie Dornan, Holly Valance, Antonio Fargas
Rating: 5/10 – In the wake of Apollo 11’s return to Earth in 1969, a marine (Dornan) is infected by an alien virus and kept in quarantine for forty years before being freed by a woman (Valance) who works in the facility where he’s being kept. With its lack of back story to explain what’s going on and why (particularly the woman’s actions and just why the marine has spent so long in quarantine – and without aging), X Returns should best be viewed as an attempt to drum up interest in making a full-length feature out of Agent X’s plight. It also has an X-Files vibe about it, and is worth seeing for Fargas’s quietly menacing portrayal of a government spook. If you’re a fan of Dornan’s though, be prepared for disappointment: he’s barely in it.