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  • Writer's pictureBen Anstruther

Short Films #1

It’s time to review the films that we watched in class!

 

This was an interesting mix but it was really great to see variety of short films from around the world which I would otherwise be unaware of. It was also nice to see what could be achieved in short film form.


 

Submarine

I really enjoyed this film despite it’s slow pacing and some narrative issues specifically with the ending. However the most strikingly brilliant element of the film is the production design and set dressing. It was not only immersive and tangible because of its physicality and grottiness, but also was an amazing way of communicating information about the protagonist. The breakdown we did of her home in class was really eye-opening of what we as the audience can glean from just a single establishing shot about the character. This is something I certainly hope to incorporate into my film.


I also loved the lateral tracking shots through the rubbish covered streets – just an amazing achievement design-wise. The dancing scene as well was a clever and effective use of extras, camera movement and change in colour/lighting.


 

Listen

This was a very fine film indeed, and in a way the closest one to the idea that I am developing. It was a great exercise in a simple narrative told in a very interesting way. I loved the conceit of different languages and cultures colliding and climax of the film were they were all talking over each other was deservedly frustrating and brilliantly put together cinematically. There was discussion over the role and portrayal of the interpreter character and why she had the motivations that she did. I thought she was by far the most interesting character and it totally made sense to me why her character behaved the way she did.


I loved the close-quarters cinematography and dingy lighting – felt claustrophobic and oppressive. I wasn’t sure about the start, replying the same conversation from the different perspectives. I like the idea in theory but I think it could have been done in a smarter and more concise way. I also felt that the role that the son played was slightly contrived, there is no doubt that it added to the tension at the end and the pathos of the film but again could have been done in a smarter way.

 

 

Hail Mary Country

This was the subject of universal derision from the class and I have to say I agree with them. This was a very poor film: juvenile, unfocussed stylistically and narratively and a bit irritating. It was part car commercial, part Guy Ritchie/Tarantino homage, all parts undisciplined. It’s important to not bash a film for the sake of it – believe me I have made some stinkers myself – but it’s also important to see films which don’t work and to understand why don’t work.

 


Caroline

Bringing us nicely on to Caroline. This was by far I think the best film in this crop of films that we were shown. I found it hard to fault really. I spoke in my last blog post about wanting to create anxiety in my film and I found Caroline to be an exemplary way of executing that. There was some debate about how necessary the start was, I think I worked well, mainly because there was no part of the main body of the film set inside the car which felt rushed. I liked the uncertainty of whether or not the woman who came into the car was trying to help the children or was a threat to them. Even though it was a dramatic contrivance, the locks on the car doors was effective in amplifying the tension and I liked the conclusion to the drama as well. Performances, cinematography, editing all excellent.

 


The Shining Star of Losers Everywhere

I don’t have a great deal to say about this. I did enjoy it and unlike some people in the class, I did enjoy the fairly conventional documentary techniques – animation, talking heads, archive etc. It was interesting enough, I have no interest in horse-racing either the sport or the betting side so that was all well and good that it maintained my interest for its duration.

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