Saturday, September 12, 2015

DC Shorts Showcase 5: "We Can't Live Without Cosmos", "On Dark Paths", "Billy the Kid", "The Bridge Partner"

I attended DC Shorts Showcase 5 last night at Landmark E Street Theater in Washington.  There was a little mixup, as I got the times mixed up and had intended Showcase 4.  But Showcase 5 turned out to be quite interesting.

On Dark Paths” (“Pimealla polulla”,  20 minutes, Finland, directed by Paul Helin), suggests, from the title, another setting of “Taming of the Shrew (as with “The Dark Place”, Dec. 2, 2014), but this is a childhood thriller suggestive of M. Night Shyamalan or Clive Barker.  8-year-old Risto, given a teddy bear to deal with night terrors, finds a mythical monster stalking him and nearby neighbors.  But the monster could be his own abusive father.

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos” (“Mi ne mozhem zhit bez kosmosa”, 16 minutes, Russia, by Konstantin Bronzit) presents a curious story, in rather abstract animation with limited color, of two friends who train together to be chosen to ride into space on Russia’s cosmonaut program. This seems to be a “Mother May I” situation, as the facility seems to have chosen them.  They all kinds of brutal tests (anti-gravity spins, and swimming races, maybe shaved down). Their bunk cell has a chess game set up with a curious rook-and-knight ending, maybe from known theory.  When the guys go into space, something weird happens, and well, maybe this is our way to know that aliens are real.   I think the film could have been interesting with live actors and CGI.  The concept is a little close to my own “Epiphany” screenplay. The Vimeo trailer is here.  This film is one of the 2016 Oscar list for Best Short Films, Animated.
Billy the Kid” (16 minutes, UK, directed by Sam Johnson), presents a high school teen (John Bell) who attracts attention – and bullying – from his peers by wearing a Billy the Kid cowboy outfit for “show and tell”.  He refuses to defend himself against frivolous taunts.  But when some escaped prisoners invade the school and hold kids hostages, Bill saves everyone with his lasso and becomes the super-hero.

The Bridge Partner” (14 minutes, USA, Gabriel Olson, based on a short story by Peter S. Beagle) starts with a ladies’ bridge tournament (sorry, no chess).  When an elderly woman (Beth grant) plays a bad hand, her glamorous partner (Sharon Lawrence) whispers a death threat, or so she imagines.  Then the partner seems to stalk her around suburban Atlanta. When the two sit down for tea, murder is inevitable.  This was also at HollyShorts.  This film was a hit with the audience.

The Unstoppable Billy Greenwood” (12 min, USA, Augustus Bernstein) has Army officers informing a father that his son was killed in Afghanistan. But the father’s tale causes one of the Army officers to recall how his own son, against all odds, won a football game for his team.

John’s Follies” (8 minutes, USA) examines a stone artist who builds megaliths around Flint Hill, VA, actually familiar to the mother’s side of my own family.
Christylez Bacon” (4 min, USA) presents an unusual take on hip-hop, through a local dancer in Washington DC.

Boot” (4 min, USA)  presents a trunk kidnapping in a garage gone bad.

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