Film Review: PUMPKIN, 15min., USA, Romance/Drama

Played at the February 2017 ROMANCE Film Festival

PUMPKIN, 15min., USA, Romance/Drama
Directed by Paula Neves

Alice’s best friend, Dan, lives in another country. When he gives her the bad news about his disease, Alice faces the scary feeling of being away, distant and powerless. And she tries, the best way she can think of, to show him support and love. Even if that means pushing away those people that are physically close to her.

Review by Kierston Drier

 his fifteen minute film from the US directed by Paula Neves is a piece to break your heart while it heals your soul. Pumpkin is a story about teenage photographer Alice and her long distance relationship with Dan, a charming and sweet boy from across the sea. Despite romantic interested right in front of her face, Alice only has eyes for Dan and he reciprocates her passion. Yet something is holding him back- that something is a terminal illness. Love knows no bounds it would seem, an Alice is unable to see the subtle hints that her love for Daniel may be ill-fated.

Some things are worth risking everything for, and Alice decides that, in order to see Daniel, she will give up the prom in her own high school, and the money in her new camera fund, to fly to see Daniel. The morning of the flight however, she gets a devastating call from Daniel’s’ mother.

Love makes us do crazy things. This is one of those stories that shows the drive of compassion from all angles. Daniel doesn’t leave Alice completely high and dry, his last ditch effort to contact her will reach her in the end. Alices’ best friend back home, won’t let her mourn Dan forever. From every angle love prevails, even when all seems lost.

Pumpkin has some notes in common with The Fault In Our Stars and with good reason- they are both stories that remind us how crazy love can make us, and the things we are willing to do to see it through. Pumpkin reminds us that a life cut short is still worth filling with love. The lives left behind are equally worthy of being loved.

 

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Film Review: FOUR DAY WEEKEND, 20min, USA, Romance/Drama

Played at the February 2017 ROMANCE Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTERFOUR DAY WEEKEND, 20min, USA, Romance/Drama
Directed by Nicole Jones

A middle-aged couple, married for twenty-three years, takes a four-day break from each other and the aftermath leaves their relationship shaken and tested but not broken.

Review by Kierston Drier

 Rich and deeply compelling, Four Day Weekend an American film from director Nicole Jones, is one woman’s recount of her journey through her 23 year marriage to her husband, through the lense of a four day weekend where they both have permission to seek extra-marital dalliances.

She, having been sexually adventurous in her youth, proposes the nourishes the idea in an attempt to give her husband a chance to explore his adventurous side. He, on the other hand, grapples with his feelings about this newly offered freedom.

This is a film that hits that magical sweet spot in the short film world- hitting every note perfectly. Emotionally compelling, heartbreaking honest, charmingly funny, expertly acted and brilliant composed, this piece still manages to be greater than the sum of its’ parts. Perhaps this is because, not only is it a well made film, but it tackles a unique subject matter with both sensitivity and sincerity.

Many love stories, address young love, or old and enduring love. Four Day Weekend tackles love right in the middle- a mature and well developed marriage of equals facing all the nerve-wracking insecurity that comes with trying anything new for the first time. Yet, despite the subject matter of infidelity, this is a piece that really does centre around love. The love of these two people in their marriage is unmistakingly clear. The lengths they are willing to go to make each other happy is a true testament to that.

A strong and powerfully made film, Four Day Weekend will engage you mentally, emotionally and philosophically, while still reminding you that love will always know no bounds. Bravo Nicole Jones, Bravo.

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Film Review: SUNDAY AFTER, 3min. Canada, Romance/Experimental

Played at the February 2017 ROMANCE Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTERSUNDAY AFTER, 3min. Canada, Romance/Experimental
Directed by Nathalie Cusson

What to do on a Sunday afternoon? There are many ways to spend spare time; The one depicted in this short film might be among the best options.

Review by Kierston Drier

 A silky smooth symbolic look at sensual visual stimulation, Sunday Afternoon is a delight for the senses. A Canadian experimental film directed by Nathalie Cusson, this piece is a three minute dive into erotic visual metaphor.

Set against hypnotic music, soft, velvety images and alluringly entrancing close ups of feathers, silk sheets and pearly droplets of water, Sunday Afternoon will have you tingling all over and unsure as to why.

As a three minute experimental film, this piece leaves itself open to interpretation, and yet it remains unmistakably clear. We may not be sure what we are looking at as the audience but we certainly know it’s sexy. It is the testament to good filmmaking, that a metaphor can be so clear and appealing, and remain utterly innocent of overt references.

Tantalizing while remaining obscure, Sunday Afternoon is a delight for the senses, and may very well give you some ideas for how you might want to spend your next long weekend.

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Film Review: CHARITY CASE, 3min, UK, Romance/Comedy

Played at the February 2017 ROMANCE Film Festival

CHARITY CASE, 3min, UK, Romance/Comedy
Directed by Sam Tibi

A young man’s attempt to show a beautiful girl his charitable nature backfires…

Review by Kierston Drier

 This delightfully fresh and comic look at chivalry gone awry, Charity Case comes to us from the UK by director Sam Tibi. In this simple, short and hilarious tale, our male hero tries to impress a beautiful woman at a cafe by tipping the barista. His plan backfires when, trying and failing to get her attention, he gives too much in the jar and runs short for his coffee. While the barista’s back is turned, our hero attempts to get his coins back- an ill fated idea indeed.

A short, humorous film that makes us question- is generosity still generosity if the gesture is done for self-gain? Is there such a thing as true altruism? It should be noted how expertly this film is able to get it’s emotional point across. In under three minutes, and with only one set, three characters and minimal dialogue, we know exactly who everyone is, and exactly what their motives are.

A simple and inviting slice of life with a keen moral- that honesty really is the best policy when it comes to meeting the girl of your dreams, or tipping the barista.

 

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Film Review: INDIGO, 19min, Sweden, Romance/Drama

Played at the February 2017 ROMANCE Film Festival

INDIGO, 19min, Sweden, Romance/Drama
Directed by Paul Jerndal

Two young, lost souls in New York City share a common struggle – they are stuck in lives they do not feel they belong. She is an adored actress and he, a bike messenger. On the outside they seem like each others opposite, but on the inside they are the same- dehumanized by an internal loneliness that alienates them from feeling alive.

Review by Kierston Drier

What does it mean to have it all? Wealth, fame, beauty? Friends that love and support you? INDIGO discusses this concept with beautiful and evocative images and exceptional visual composure. Coming to us out of Sweden from director Paul Jerndal, this is a film that examines one day in the lives of two lost souls in the big city of New York. One is a beautiful and famous actress, the other is struggling bike courier. She is lavished with superficial compliments throughout her day working as a model and meeting with friends. He is scolded and shunned and generally mistreated all day.

Both have friends that go out of their way to meet with them and encourage them. Yet both seem utterly isolated- lonely in a crowded city. Both revert into their own minds once in privacy and both break down completely when faced with the prospect of meeting their friends for a night of drinking and dancing. When the two find each other on the dance floor at a club, their worlds meet and both are able to break out of their shell.

Subtle, thick with nuance and emotionally rich, this piece has stunning visuals and a staggering attention is cinematic detail. Gorgeous cinematography and the gripping complexities of the characters make this film worth more than one viewing. Not only is it visually dazzling, but it provides no easy answers. Our characters talk little of their feelings, we never hear their own thoughts or desires. We learn about them largely through the voices of their friends. Both are clearly loved and cared about, yet when we see them privately each one seems noticeably unhappy. Whether they are grappling with their mental health, their places in the world, the futility of their lives- it is unclear. What is obvious though, is that our characters are missing something. And it turns out to be each other.

INDIGO is a thing of beauty, it is a film that asks you to make up the backstory of the heroes, and focuses its’ attention on the moments they inhabit in the film. It is a film that sparkles with visual pleasure and reverberates with the messages “I was lost until I found you.” Check it out.

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Film Review: ARKHAM’S JOURNAL (2017)

Played at the January 2017 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film Festival

  MOVIE POSTERARKHAM’S JOURNAL, 7min, Canada, Fan Fiction/Mystery
Directed by Matthew P.H Rea

Based on “Batman” DC Comics. Filmed in and around Toronto, this short proof-of-concept film provides a small insight into the untold stories of Gotham’s darkest hour. With the timeline loosely based around the batman comic, “Knightfall”, Arkham’s Journal is told through the words of Dr. Arkham’s Journal, detailing the lives of all the Arkham Asylum patients.

Review by Kierston Drier

Director Matthew P.H Rea uses ARKHAM’S JOURNAL to explore the the question “where does evil come from?” in the DC Batman Comics. Told through doctors’ notes, this piece walks through the lives and backgrounds of those residing in the Arkham Asylum.

This vibrant short doesn’t give us the whole story, and this may be one of its’ stronger points. Instead of spelling out the complete and total backstory of each villain, it shows just enough to spike our emotional centres- our fear, our intrigue, our disgust and our sympathy.

Evocative and beautiful, with strong gothic visuals and the dramatic density that rings true to the series tone and makes the franchise proud, ARKHAM’S JOURNAL brings us right to the brink of wanting to know what comes next. A strong, engaging and visually riveting piece, that stands alone while still fitting within a rich and elaborate world.
 
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Film Review: IM PERFEKT (2017)

Played at the January 2017 Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film Festival

IM PERFEKT, 7min, Hungray, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Directed by Zsuzsanna Koszti

The short film aims to show a date in 2046. How the technology can shape our lives in an everyday situation. What if someone else controls your senses.

Review by Kierston Drier

What happens when we can no longer create distinction between where we end and technology begins? How does create us? Define us? Reshape our views of the world and of each other? IM PERFEKT coming to us via director Zsuzsananna Koszti explores the world in the-not-too-distant future, when humanity can seamlessly move between the human/techno gap, and what joys and concerns come from that.

Our two young heroes have met for coffee after meeting digitally. Each of them has a perfectly designed prosthetic hand. Sexual and romantic tension runs overtly between them and the casual seductive flirtations create an instantly engaging dynamic between our characters. Yet, when the female’s hand loses power, her date suggests they switch hands to charge. Once they do however, they can still experience the physical sensations of their own hand, even while it’s in the power of the other. It’s titillating, although somewhat invasive, when our male protagonists puts the fingers of his counterparts’ hand in his own mouth, and rubs her hand up his own leg. And the flirtatious mood turns somewhat embarrassed and awkward, when she tells him to stop. A date turned busy by jumping in too fast might be a theme that rings as current no matter how far in the future it is. A refreshingly modern take on the online dating hookup scene, with the comic twist that hooking up might just as easily mean plugging into power. Despite the clearly inappropriately liberal use our male hero takes with his female counterparts’ hand, we still feel empathic towards him, that his flirtations went one step too far and ruined an otherwise lovely coffee. Which is why you have to smile when the twist comes. Technology gets a bad rap in this day and age for dividing us all, but in IM PERFEKT we get to see it bring us closer together and unite us all, despite our differences. With the slight moral of remembering to ask permission before you take your dates’ hand.

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