Posted on: Thursday, October 16th, 2014
Well, looks like grief as a subject for film is trending. Two out of five shorts today were about dealing with a loved one dying, versus only one about romantic heartbreak and not a hint of romantic comedy anywhere to be seen [insert fist pump here]. This hour of five shorts was extremely well curated: two animated, two live action short-story style pieces, and one film-poem.
The tear jerker was thoughtfully put first so no one had to head back to work puffy-eyed. “In the Deep” by Nimisha Mukerji showed the love between a father and his daughter as she goes through the acceptance phase of her (likely) terminal illness. The best scenes were the ones where they can not help but oscillate between vexation and appreciation of each others lifestyles. The later scenes would have been stronger if this struggle-to-not-be-irritated with a loved one had been peppered throughout.
The camera work was understated and carefully executed. An opening shot of a body swimming underwater through rippling chlorine blue waves is held in our eye by the gentle rocking of the camera in the following shot where an older man sits on his sofa in a living room devoid of bright colours or underwater magic.
“Dog Sitting in Eastern Passage” (Martha Cooley) was a surprise. The sound was part of the visual poetry of waving grass and waves rolling in. Landscapes working almost as emotions in and of themselves. These images were punctuated with written platitudes seen as shots of a journal lying in the grass. “Trust in the unexpected” “Everything you hoped for is coming true” something else about life being circular etc. What saved these from being utterly irritating, in retrospect, was the final journal entry. The denouement, filmed as it was being written, related the attempted mending of a broken heart while dog sitting in this rustling and dynamic setting, with the wonderfully un-cheesy line, “My heart – like a dog – kept bringing me your image.”
The next short, Re: Jess (Talia Alberts), Follows a young man in real time as he finds out about the death of someone important to him. The shift in his mannerisms from the overly practiced self-conscious posing as he executes a flawless brunch date to his awkward mumbling through the shock of bad news was gratifying to watch.
The other highlight of this short was a well shot scene where the film maker lets us watch the protagonist babysit. He can now start to deal with his feelings without a peer watching him. We, essentially, watch him in an unwatched state, with the baby serving to keep some emotional and physical interaction afloat to keep us engaged.
Another interesting device used was the smartphone as soundtrack. The low rumble of it vibrating in a scene in the forest is like a trumpet breaking into song. Later, the pinging of many text notifications, coming in faster and faster as word of his friend’s death spreads, is more deliberately mixed with a xylophone style pinging in the ambient music to blur the lines between the story and the atmosphere.
…and the other shorts … will have to just keep playing in my head as I must put down the laptop and pick up my toddler now… I am looking forward to seeing so many more that I will never be able to find the time to write about them. This year’s schedule is over-the-top packed. Lucky ducks us here is St John’s.