Shorts Round Up for the Week (12/1/18)

Most of the time we get such a backlog of short films and feature length indie films that we work hard to take them all on and review them before the year is up. In what we hope will become a new feature, “Shorts Round Up of the Week” is a column where we’ll be reviewing a round up of short films of varying quality.

If you’d like to submit your short film for review consideration, submissions are always opened to filmmakers and producers.

I Miss the War (2018)
I think Andrew Walsh’s “I Miss the War” has a ton of potential to be an interesting drama comedy with a little polishing. Despite some shaky performances and odd sound design, “I Miss the War” gets its point across as a very engaging drama comedy about a dysfunctional family. Nine years after their larger than life mother committed suicide, her three daughters re-unite on the anniversary of her death. When they come together finally, they realize that they’ve all changed, and that they’re all in wildly different stage of their lives that they may or may not be okay with. The general tension between the characters is entertaining, especially in how wildly different writer-director Andrew Walsh writes them. I very much enjoyed how much the death of their mother affected these women in wildly different ways, and how it continues to do so for better and for worse. Walsh’s writing is engrossing and I was very interested in how these characters would fare after the credits rolled. “I Miss the War” is a very good short drama comedy about grief and loss, and I hope to see more from Walsh soon.

In the Distance (2015)
Director Florian Grolig’s animated short film is a wonderful and stellar statement about the tension of our society and how long before it becomes apparent we can no longer observe and have to become a part of it. Filmed using one static scene, and with a distant shot, “In the Distance” centers on a single man and his pet chicken perched in a high tower above the clouds. Every day he fishes for food, and goes about his existence in a small domain where he lives out his existence. And every night he’s subject to hearing a massive war rage underneath the clouds. Explosions shake the skies, gun fire rattles the windows, and he’s only able to achieve peace through small moments involving his solitude with his only companion. “In the Distance” is a remarkable short with beautiful animation and a very relevant stark statement about how the world inevitably come pounding on our doors, no matter how we distance ourselves from it. “In the Distance” is open to huge interpretation but it’s a brilliant statement, now matter how you perceive it.

Prince of Porn (2017)
To accompany his stellar article about Phil Prince on byNWR, Brian O’Hara directs an engrossing and very entertaining look behind the porn industry and the drudges that come with filming a single porn film. “Prince of Porn” explores Phil Prince’s dealing with the porn industry and how he manages to film various porn films. There’s a ton of candid looks at the filming of a porn here, with so much straight forward commentary and anecdotes by Prince, himself. Here he engages us in how difficult it can be to film, and how hard it is to get every shot set up. This becomes even more problematic when a male performer is tasked with keeping an erection for the sake of the shot. There are also discussions on the difficulty of getting a good ejaculation shot, and how much of a chore it is to get the female performers to remember single lines. Prince can constantly be heard in the background telling the crew to “Shut the fuck up!” which will allow for some good laughs. Along with Prince, there are appearances by folks like Ron Jeremy, and Annie Sprinkles, respectively. I loved this and I hope O’Hara is able to turn this in to a longer format documentary somewhere down the line.

Transmission (2017)
Writing and directing team Tom Hancock and Varun Raman summarize “Transmission” as a Lynchian Brexit themed film. While it has its political leanings, it’s not a film prone to heavy lecturing to people that distance themselves from the rift in the UK. “Transmission” is a stark, disturbing, cerebral short that packs in the Brexit situation in to a chilling and grueling short film. Shot in 35mm, “Transmission” is a wonderfully filmed allegory on Brexit and the fears of Nationalism taking a stranglehold. Much of “Transmission” is left ambiguous, but the message comes through crystal clear with a very 1984 tone, and menacing look at a future that’s unfolding before a populace that hasn’t learned from history. I highly recommend “Transmission” especially if you’re a fan of storytellers like David Lynch, Terry Gilliam, or George Orwell. “Transmission” premiered at Fantasia, played at 90 festivals and did well on the genre circuit, including BIFFF, L’Etrange, Horrible Imaginings, FilmQuest, Twin Peaks UK Festival and Rhode Island Flickers (Vortex).  It picked up 12 awards along the way.

Who is Elmore Dean? (2017)
As someone that’s been on the other side of a panic attack, “Who is Elmore Dean?” very much spoke to me. Timothy Cox plays Elmore Dean, an acclaimed songwriter who is facing one of the most important days of his life. As he prepares for his big day, his anxiety takes on a life of its own. Bereft of any dialogue, Timothy Cox manages to convey the multi layered menace of anxiety and how it can affect the lives of those that suffer from it on a day to day basis. Anxiety can take a toll on us, it can take on a life of its own, and a lot of times it can defeat us in times when we need to be on top of our game. “Who is Elmore Dean?” is left mostly ambiguous as a lot of Elmore Dean’s apartment begins to fall apart and we’re never really told why. Much of what occurs is representative of anxiety and how it can make everything feel so chaotic when nothing is seemingly wrong with our world. With a great sense of direction and top notch pans, Max Rothman depicts the ordeal of anxiety with pitch perfect empathy, creativity, and a tasteful sense of humor.