Category Archives: short

Black Tape (Michelle Kranot, Uri Kranot, 2014)

Black Tape is a tiny little animation with no particular plot, but a far-reaching concept. Swift-passing characters here are broken down into pairs who are engaged in a sort-of dance, a tango of oppression. Everything happening is in absolute harmony with the music, and looks absolutely stunning. There are probably some elevated ideas this movie should (and surely can) awaken in a person’s mind, but me – I just enjoy the precision and the beauty. Here, you try it:

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Chumbak / Magnet [A House Wife’s Dilemma] (Prabhakar Meena Bhaskar Pant, 2017)

Chumbak is a short story that was apparently inspired by real-life drama of one Indian family. An adopted boy wakes up one night because of horrible mortal groans and sees that his foster-father is murdered by the wife… Or is he?

This movie is a little strange. It tells about a collision inside a dysfunctional family, and their attempt to find a way out, but not only that attempt is weird as hell, it also doesn’t work. This is a pretty interesting work, but it lacks information; at the end, like it often happens, there are notes about subsequent development in the characters’ lives, and even though they do clarify the picture a little bit, too much is still left unsaid. The film leaves a feeling of incompleteness, which is probably the biggest problem with it. Everything else, however, is pretty good, including acting and the overall directorial style. You may wanna check it out:

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White Shirt (Sumit Arora, 2017)

White Shirt is a story of a relationship that has come to an end. A white shirt that he can’t bring himself to get from her house for a long time becomes a symbol of that relationship, and when she finally returns it, it means that she got over him.

This story is centered around the relationship exclusively, and there is absolutely nothing more to it, which means it’s a soap. Even though it might be a step forward for stereotypical indian cinema, it’s too small, and also – in the wrong direction. Not worth the time, but check it out if you’re into nonsensical tear-jerkers:

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Ouch (Neeraj Pandey, 2016)

Ouch is a short film about a man and a woman meeting in a hotel room. Both were supposed to inform their respective spouses about their affair, but only the man actually did it thus ruining his marriage. The woman, on the other hand, not only didn’t do the same, but came down to break up with the lover instead.

The subject itself seems like a decent one: story about an affair going the wrong way is subtle and significant at the same time, which is quite unusual for Indian cinema, so kudos for the attempt. However, the execution is terrible, even though the actors seem to be good professionals. Dialogs are poorly written and unbalanced. I’m guessing that the situation in the center was intended as an amusing one, but it just doesn’t work. Direction is like there is no director at all. This is downright bad. A childish imitation of real cinema. I wouldn’t waste the time if I were you, but I gotta give you the choice anyway:

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Wire Cutters (Jack Anderson, 2014)

Wire Cutters by Jack Anderson is an animated short about 2 autonomous robots extracting mineral resources on a distant planet. They worked each on their own at first, then they met and managed to form a sort of cooperation to enhance the outcome, but soon slithered into unhealthy competition, which led to both their demise.

Although this film was clearly inspired by Pixar’s Wall-E, its story still is pretty original, but most importantly – it’s really well-elaborated and consistent from beginning to end. There is nothing superfluous about the situation, individual robots’ operations, as well as their relationship, develops in a logical fashion and leads to a natural, albeit tragic, outcome. The animation is quite brilliant, too. All in all, this is a wonderful work of art, no doubt about that. But go on, see for yourself:

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Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear (Eric England, Nick Everhart, Emily Hagins, Jesse Holland, Miko Hughes, Andy Mitton, 2013)

Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear is a horror anthology consisting of 5 short movies and centered around the senses, with each film called after one of them. At first shorts seem to be unconnected, but later a semblance of a common plot emerges, which includes a mysterious corporation with unclear intentions and wicked methods. Signs connecting each particular film to that plot can be witnessed in every one of them, although most are overly subtle. Unfortunately, it would seem like that general story was a later idea specifically invented to tie the shorts closer together, and it doesn’t really work, first and foremost because the goals of the corporation remain vague and unintelligible even after the last of the films is over, and also because the shorts are quite different in terms of the story quality.

Smell. This one is about a looser who works in an office, and to whose house a woman comes one morning to give him a free sample of a pheromone-based perfume that is supposed to make people attracted to him and through that improve his life. And it does work, only with a really bad side-effect: it makes his body decompose in an extremely unpleasant fashion. Apart from the fact that pheromones are not applicable to human beings (which makes the idea preposterous), it’s not a bad movie as it shows quite naturally the behavioral development happening under the influence of changed circumstances.

See. An eye-doctor, who found a way to steal his patients recollections using some sort of equipment, once finds out that one of his favourite patients is a victim of domestic violence. He lures her husband into his office and applies some nightmare-like visions to him hoping that it would make him stop, but it only makes things worse and turns the guy into a clear-cut murderer. Seems like this story is based on a presumption that memories are stored in eyes and not the brain, which is ridiculous, of course, but aside from this it’s actually pretty good, because it’s about unpredictable (and horrible) consequences of good intentions.

Touch. This one is about a family of three (a mother, a father, and their blind son) who got into a trap when driving for a vacation place. The boy, who remains relatively unharmed in the accident, leaves to seek help and finds a lair of a serial killer (a further development of the husband from “See”). This story is probably the best of the collection, because there are no absurd stretches here, everything is rather realistic and plausible. Besides, the boy is really a great finding.

Taste is probably the most ludicrous of them all. A guy, who later is revealed to be a talented hacker, is brought to the corporation’s headquarters in a limo, and is suggested a job. He refuses, and instead of trying to change his mind, the girl interviewing him drugs him and mutilates and murders him in front of a lot of people, who simply watch it happen. It definitely looks gruesome, but what is the meaning of all it? Why this happens as it does? No explanation is provided, and none arises from the context.

Listen explores a popular theme of a mysterious tune that would make anybody who listened to it in full immediately commit suicide in the most disturbing way possible. A couple of filmmakers come by a collection of VHS tapes (delivered to them from multiple sources), which, if put together in the right order, would become a sort of journal of a recording session for a song written by some composer admitted to an asylum. None of the test subjects is able to play the music from beginning to end, so the experimenters simply deprive some poor guy of his hearing entirely, and make him play the tune while several other people listen to him playing (all die dreadfully). After the complete song is recovered, it gets leaked to the web causing disastrous outcome. The film is quite consistent, and its style and professional implementation are superb, but the core idea is extremely dubious, so there’s that.

The execution quality for the whole anthology is pretty high. The actors are very good, every one of them is a strong professional, and there were no deflections from their part whatsoever. Special effects, including makeup, seem to be exactly the way they should be. So the weakest part of this project is the stories (which were based on outdated and ridiculous ideas), and especially the common plot (which was not thought-out very thoroughly). Still, it’s a decent entertainment – for a horror, that is.

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Short Anthology

Alien׃ Covenant. Prologue׃ The Crossing

The title of this one speaks for itself. I’m not sure why they present it as a short when it’s more like a trailer. Doesn’t have any artistic value on its own.

Time: ~3m
Released in: 2017
Directed by: Ridley Scott
Entertaining quality4 out of 5
Art quality:  – out of 5


Big Catch

Big Catch is a really stupid story about a shark trying to get to a fisherman. Very crude animation style, too. I’m guessing it’s supposed to be funny, but really it’s just dumb.

Time: ~4m
Released in: 2010
Directed by: Moles Merlo
Entertaining quality3+ out of 5
Art quality2 out of 5


Dust Buddies

Dust Buddies is a CGI short about so-called dust rabbits (i.e. random lumps of dust) who are fighting with evil represented by a french-looking maid with a vacuum cleaner. Animation is fine, but the story is commonplace and ridiculous at the same time. Nothing really interesting.

Time: ~5m
Released in: 2016
Directed by: Beth Tomashek, Sam Wade
Entertaining quality:  3+ out of 5
Art quality:  4- out of 5
IMDB page: link


Oktapodi

Oktapodi is a short animation about a couple of octopuses who are fighting with a delivery driver for their life. It is a little bit funny, although mostly it’s ludicrous. Animation is okay, but hardly more than that.

Time: ~3m
Released in: 2007
Directed by: Julien Bocabeille, François-Xavier Chanioux, Olivier Delabarre, Thierry Marchand, Quentin Marmier, Emud Mokhberi
Written by: Julien Bocabeille, François-Xavier Chanioux, Olivier Delabarre, Thierry Marchand, Quentin Marmier, Emud Mokhberi
Entertaining quality:  3+ out of 5
Art quality:  4- out of 5
IMDB page: link


In a Heartbeat

In a Heartbeat is a short story about a boy who fell in love with another boy, and whose heart showed him the way. Literally: the heart here is a separate character and main driver of the story. All in all it’s pure, undiluted romance, without a hint of originality or significance. It’s so upbeat and romantic, there’s hardly any place for intelligence left there. I suppose, some brainless little girls would love it, but it doesn’t have any value whatsoever. Except, maybe, for animation, which is okay, but nothing special.

Time: ~4m
Released in: 2017
Directed by: Esteban Bravo, Beth David
Written by: Esteban Bravo, Beth David
Starred by: Nicholas J. Ainsworth, Kelly Donohue
Entertaining quality:  2 out of 5
Art quality:  1- out of 5
IMDB page: link


Launder Man

Launder Man is a horror short about a woman who went to do some laundry in a laundromat and got lured and attacked by a mysterious disguised man. Most of its frightening power (if it’s even a proper term here) comes from loud noises and weird makeup and props. There is no context to the story, and that makes it kind of empty, un-scary. It’s only 3 minutes, but still not worth the time.

Time: ~3m
Released in: 2017
Directed by: Landon Stahmer
Written by: Landon Stahmer
Performed by: Sean Brison, Belinda Gosbee
Entertaining quality:  3+ out of 5
Art quality:  2 out of 5
IMDB page: link


Winter’s Here / Zima prishla

Zima prishla is an animated short film about how the change of seasons. A boy dreams of the world turning all white as the winter takes over. There are characters in that play, which are traditional heroes of Russian fairy tales – the fox, the rabbit, the bear, – but no particular story outside the theme. The style of animation is exceptionally vivid and includes claymation and string art. The picture is strange and beautiful; the music is in great harmony with the image; and the overall result is quite impressive. It is sort of meditative, too. I believe, it’s worth checking out:

Time: ~6m
Released in: 2012
Directed by: Vassiliy Shlychkov
Written by: Vassiliy Shlychkov
Entertaining quality: 4 out of 5
Art quality:  4 out of 5
IMDB page: link

(v. 4.8)
®shoomow, 2017

Good Business (Ray Sullivan, 2017)

Good Business is a sci-fi short about humanity’s presence on a new planet with intelligent life. A team of humans makes a deal with local population’s representative and sells them some weapons. With risks that any weapon deal traditionally implies.

Special effects are superior, although aside from unpleasant-looking local creatures there’s not much to look at. The story is simple (and rather predictable, too), but consistent and logical, which in my book matters more. The acting is good. All in all, the director is definitely an interesting craftsman, worth keeping an eye out for.

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Klementhro (Sue Dunham, 2015)

Klementhro is a very short animated film about a guy sailing on a float in the middle of the sea. It’s totally surreal, and as it often happens with surreal stories, there is no plot per se, but something large emerges from the separate events that constitute the narrative here. All in all, this is a simple, weird, and uplifting movie.

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Short Anthology

Pigeon: Impossible (Lucas Martell, 2009)

Pigeon: Impossible is a short animated parody on Mission: Impossible film series and heavily equipped cinema spies in general. It is sort of fun to watch, but only sort of, because the story is basically an anecdote: it is completely improbable, it doesn’t have a grain of truth in it, it is based on ridiculous prerequisites, and develops in even more ridiculous way. The animation is a bit too smooth and a bit too bright. All in all, it is irritating and entertaining in more or less equal shares. Not recommended (waste of time, I call it), but check it out if you want:

Time: ~6m
Released in: 2009
Directed by: Lucas Martell
Written by: Lucas Martell, Austen Menges, Scott Rice, Gopal Bidari
Entertaining quality4 out of 5
Art quality:  3- out of 5

IMDB page: link


A Perfect Break-Up (Abhinav Pratiman, 2014)

A Perfect Break-Up is some kind of an ad; it explores movie stereotypes connected to the process of breaking-up a romantic relationship, and suggests some new ones. It’s pretty fun to watch, although there’s nothing here that could make it stick in memory for longer than 10 minutes after it’s over – no story, no characters, no real drama.

Time: ~1m
Released in: 2014
Directed by: Abhinav Pratiman
Entertaining quality4 out of 5
Art quality:  3 out of 5


A Single Life (Marieke Blaauw, Joris Oprins, Job Roggeveen, 2014)

A Single Life is an animated short about a girl who received a mysterious package with a record that can manipulate lifespan of a particular person when played. There is no actual story here, but the idea is bright and funny, and its implementation is quite befitting. It’s really short, but manages to elevate the mood nonetheless:

Time: ~3m
Released in: 2014
Directed by: Marieke Blaauw, Joris Oprins, Job Roggeveen
Written by: Marieke Blaauw, Joris Oprins, Job Roggeveen
Entertaining quality5+ out of 5
Art quality:  4 out of 5


(v. 4.8)
®shoomow, 2017

My Home / Chez moi (Phuong Mai Nguyen, 2014)

Chez moi is a short animated film about a drastic change in the life of a little boy, whose mother brings home an alien person one time, brings him to stay, and that leads to certain estrangement between the mother and the son.

This is a delicate film about a very subtle story. The event in the center of it is not big, but it is significant, which is great to see appreciated – the finesse of this kind is a rare treat. Allegories constitute a large part of the implementation making the movie organically symbolical, but all the symbolism here is merely a means of storytelling and doesn’t have any value outside of this purpose. The animation style is quite notable, with colors dimmed and beautiful; one of Phuong Mai Nguyen’s strongest suits is delicate and precise re-creation of physics, especially that of movement. There are no dialogs, but all the necessary sounds are in place; the overall organization of the story makes the absence of the words seem pretty normal.

All in all, this is a sublime work of animation, totally worth checking out:

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Ahalya (Sujoy Ghosh, 2015)

Ahalya is a short film about a policeman who came to the house of a famous artist trying to investigate disappearance of a male model who was last seen there. At first nothing seemed out of the ordinary to him, except maybe for the dolls that kept falling off their shelf for no apparent reason, but then the host remembered that the guy was interested in the mysterious artifact that he owned, a stone that was supposedly possessing magic powers.

This is a rather ordinary mystical story implemented without any excesses usually characteristic of Indian cinema, meaning there are no singing, no dancing, nothing of the sort. It’s a normal work of cinema, rather professional on all levels, including acting, direction and cinematography. The story is based on Hindu mythology, and is relatively interesting, but doesn’t seem very original, because similar themes were explored by Hollywood for decades. All in all, it’s a nice intro into modern Indian cinema, curious and not at all repulsive. Bollywood seems to be outgrowing its childish reputation, and it’s a good thing.

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Alone (Brock Torunski, 2013)

Alone is a short movie about the last man on Earth, who happened to survive humanity-wide epidemic, and now is living our whatever years he has left in relative comfort and absolute solitude.

Nothing really interesting here. An ordinary post-apocalyptic story designed to take minimal resources for execution: a single character (with fleeting glimpses of other people) in the middle of decaying civilization scenery – this combination is not hard to organize. A lot of off-screen commentary, which is a sign of weak writing. There is a semi-expected twist in the finale that doesn’t lead to plot thickening (although may have been conceived as a cliffhanger) but is supposed to inflate viewer’s imagination. All in all, a mediocre and unoriginal work. But it’s also a short one, so check it out if you want:

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Tommy Can’t Sleep (Yo-landi Visser, 2017)

Tommy Can’t Sleep is an experimental short film by the Die Antwoord band. It is about a little boy who cannot sleep because of the rats living in the walls. But his mother doesn’t believe him, and when the messenger from the rat world shows up at his bedstead and offers a trip there for just $12.99, he eagerly agrees.

The story is a whole bunch of madness tied into a relatively consistent narrative. There’s a lot of cursing, crazy imagery, and wild music and sounds. It’s all pretty fun, but should be avoided by minds too delicate for that kind of stuff. If you think you can handle it, there it is:

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God: Serengeti (Neill Blomkamp, 2017)

God: Serengeti is one of the Neill Blomkamp’s experimental short films made under the wing of the Oats Studios. It is much shorter than the others (Zygote, Firebase, Rakka), and it doesn’t have a story per se, but rather depicts a funny idea, which makes it basically an anecdote. The idea is about God who rules the development of humanity through his butler while sitting in a fancy living room. All in all, it is quite amusing, and the special effects are mind-boggling (which seems to be a persistent characteristic of the Oats Studios products), but there is no conflict anywhere, so it doesn’t really touch any nerve and therefore not that interesting. It is short, though, and, like I said, pretty funny, so there’s no harm in watching it:

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Zygote (Neill Blomkamp, 2017)

Zygote is a short sci-fi horror story by Neill Blomkamp created within the framework of the Oats Studios’ Volume 1 project. A drilling operation (presumably a non-terrestrial one) goes wrong, and almost entire crew gets slaughtered by some unknown being. The remaining 2 staff members, a security officer and a female worker, try to find their way to safety, albeit without much hope.

This is a simpler story in comparison with Rakka and Firebase, although if anything, this simplicity makes it stronger. Just 2 people trying to survive in the environment that changed drastically in a very short period of time. The story develops in a logical fashion, without any particular drawbacks. The drilling base looks authentic and complex enough, but the most interesting thing here is, of course, the creature, the embodiment of evil, and it’s absolutely fascinating. It is wonderfully frightening, with all the sounds it makes, and the way it assembles itself, – a truly beautiful ugliness.

I think, a relatively logical explanation as to its nature and behaviour really can be worked out, but that’s a job for a possible full-length movie. This short works really well on just implications, but don’t take my word for it and see for yourself:

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Firebase (Neill Blomkamp, 2017)

Firebase is a short story set in the times of the US war with Vietnam. American soldiers fighting the war at some point encounter something supernatural, a force acting against them. They find out soon enough that the entity is called the River God, that he is a direct consequence of the war, and that they have no weapon to match with his super powers.

The idea in the core of the story is not very original, but its specific circumstances are more or less interesting, and the execution is impeccable: the photography is amazing, and the special effects are absolutely stunning. The direction is pretty great, although to my taste, there’s too much scenery, and the amount of action is insufficient. But the overall result looks extremely impressive either way, which you can ascertain for yourself right here:

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The Gunfighter (Eric Kissack, 2014)

The Gunfighter by Eric Kissack is a parody ridiculing the genre of western and its stereotypes, as well as the offscreen narrator device. The idea is great, although narrator interacting with the characters (and therefore appearing as one of them, albeit a different kind) is not exactly original, – which doesn’t really matter, because the execution of it is absolutely brilliant. The quality of the production from the professional standpoint is very high, plus the acting is impeccable, – in combination with amazingly funny dialogs and the way the story develops, it all amounts to a highly enjoyable experience. It’s subtle, it’s hilarious, it’s simply good. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out:

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Détour (Michel Gondry, 2017)

Détour is a short story by Michel Gondry about a family that went on trip: they took a lot of stuff with them, including a kiddy tricycle, but it wasn’t attached to the car properly and fell off rather quickly. Driven mostly by natural forces, such as wind suction, the tricycle goes on a journey of his own, aiming to reunite with the family.

The main subject of this movie is quite typical for Gondry as it manifests itself in his other films as well, – the secret life of things. Adventures of the tricycle is in the center of this story; curiously enough, in this particular case the director managed without forcing supernatural explanations (by way of hints), although, considering the overall scope of coincidence, his position on the matter obviously hasn’t changed, – but he is better at disguising it with tiny natural events.

The film is also interesting from a different viewpoint: the technical quality of the image is impeccable, and the whole thing was shot on an iPhone, which signifies yet another small step of the offensive of the digital at the analogous.

All in all, it’s a light and easy movie without any implications. Check it out here:

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River / Reka (Aleksey Balabanov, 2002)

Reka is a complicated story of a leper colony on the river bank somewhere in Yakutia. There is love there, and betrayal, and jealousy, and constant threat of death by starvation, and cruelty, and murder, too.

The film produces an impression of a concentrate, with enough events to fill a mini-series, all squeezed into 3 quarters of an hour. The story evolves too fast; the narrative thread got lost pretty much right away, and then I just drifted with the torrent in a hope to regain some understanding along the way. Which I did, even though the characters are impossible to remember in the beginning; besides, the essence can still be caught without even the knowledge of spoken language – to a certain extent, that is.

All in all, I found the story educational (a little bit), but not very interesting. It’s hard to sympathize with a character in that kind of tempo, especially with barely established comprehension of the circumstances. Can be recommended to Balabanov’s fans; but I don’t think there is a plausible probability I would want to watch this film for the 2nd time.

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Curve (Tim Egan, 2016)

Curve is a short horror movie about a girl who is stuck on a curvy surface above what seems to be the abyss.

A perfectly minimalistic film: one actress, one location, masterful play with sound and light – it appears nothing else is required for a quality horror. It is really scary, even though there are no hints whatsoever at how the situation might have emerged, i.e. it has no evident ties to the reality. But the universe is full of endless possibilities, so why not a one like this? Laws of physics seem to be in place; the development of the initial setting is logical; the acting is great. For proper effect, better watch it with darkness outside:

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Spirit of a Denture (Alan Shelley, 2012)

Spirit of a Denture is a part of the Jameson First Shot marketing campaign. It tells about a dentist who gets a real pirate as a client, with all the teeth problems pirates usually had.

The film is sort of funny, and Spacey, of course, is always a strong argument in its favour; also, everything is implemented on a decent professional level. But, ultimately, this is not a story, but merely an anecdote, too silly to be taken seriously. Still, it’s a nice entertainment, so you might wanna check it out:

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Othello (Alexandr Gryazin, 2015)

Othello by Alexandr Gryazin is a short film based on an episode from the tragedy by William Shakespear.

Action period is transferred into some resemblance of modern times: some rebels are sitting in a bunker with prisoners whom they are torturing to get information, and talk between each other. Most of their conversations seems utterly meaningless – that is, they are obviously not meaningless, because they are Shakespearian verses, but the discrepancy with the situation at hand is so deep, it becomes excruciatingly hard to tie the 2 together. It’s like action is one thing, and the blah-blah is another, completely unrelated thing. This, combined with poor direction in terms of work with actors, as well as of depiction of violent behaviour, makes the film uncomfortable and ultimately ludicrous. Feel free to check for yourself:

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Scope of Practice (Brandyn T. Williams, 2014)

Scope of Practice is a short story about a guy who just started as a paramedic, and discovered on his very first day an unpleasant truth about a local celebrity who was beating his wife and getting away with it. The conflict between his sense of justice and the social pressure torments him, and then becomes a reason of a tragedy.

The story is quite simple, which is fine for a short novella; the dialogs are pretty decent. From the standpoint of technical implementation, it looks great; plus, the actors are all professionals trying to do their best. But all of that falls apart due to extremely poor direction. This is especially evident  on the example of acting: even though actors work really hard, and some of them even manage to deliver a proper result, the main part (as well as a number of others) is a complete failure, because the director can’t tell good from bad, and so it all looks like a student theater. Depiction of fighting, and of paramedic actual work, looks quite pathetic, too.

This is a good example of how just one spoiled component can ruin the whole thing, even if everything else is good. Brandyn T. Williams simply should have trusted to execute what he has written to somebody with directorial skill he lacks so badly himself, but apparently self-assertion got the best of him. Too bad. If you still want to waste a half hour of your life, there you go:

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The Ventriloquist (Benjamin Leavitt, 2012)

The Ventriloquist is a short story created within the framework of a Jameson marketing campaign, but with no direct references to their product. It is about a ventriloquist (naturally), who is unsuccessful in general, and whose dummy may or may not be a living thing.

The film looks very good: technical side of the implementation is pretty much flawless, and Kevin Spacey does not require glorification as his acting mastery speaks for itself. The story’s preconditions, as well as their development, seem interesting and mysterious, in a sense that the nature of the relationship between the hero and his dummy is unclear but fascinating. But then it kind of stops. The dummy vanishes, the hero finds himself on a bench, probably realizing his freedom, and that’s it. When the credits started, the only thought in my head was – “is this it?.. really?” which is probably not very good for a storyteller. It’s still worth a viewing, and maybe you’ll get a better idea of what the hell it was, in which case do not hesitate to leave a comment here:

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