Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Short Film Review #32

Hereafter

At what point does a short film stop being a short film? Hereafter comes in at just over half an hour so I’m not sure exactly where it stands but no matter what you want to call it, there is no denying it is a rather nifty bit of sci-fi. Set in a grim version of the near future, a figure called The Ghost is haunting the minds and actions of people, driving them to murder and suicide, and it is up to The Guardians to stop it if they can. Becoming a Guardian is a perilous business but resourceful orphan Katcher is shortlisted for the process, which turns out to be brutal beyond belief and made more dangerous by the ever-approaching Ghost.

Writers Damian McLindon (who also directs) and Johnny Kenton’s film is a little marvel. A bold concept which borrows gracefully from other stories in the genre but manages to forge its own clear identity, a sharp sense of (female-friendly) characterisation to really engage the watcher, and a strong visual language curated by Daniel Nightingale’s not-too-futuristic aesthetic. There’s also something of a luxurious cast – the marvellous Lydia Wilson is the perfect choice for the lead Katcher, Anthony Head is an inspired autocratic leader and Morgan Watkins also makes a strong impression. Plus there is James Garnon doing Minority Report-hand movements which is hugely exciting for those who like that sort of thing!



Devilwood


A 2006 film by Sacha Bennett, Devilwood is a rather classy piece of work, boasting some amazing production values and a great central turn from John Simm as a highwayman in a lawless village caught up in something much bigger than your average purse of silver. Nic Lawson’s cinematography creates something darkly beautiful in the contrast of the dank tavern and the saturated wilderness outside, and the smooth way in which Bennett shifts our perceptions as we discover no-one is quite what they seem is excellently done. Plus the leads are called Dante, Gabriel and Rossetti, what more could you want?!

Tumult

This is quite frankly hilarious. Written and directed by Johnny Barrington, Tumult follows a Norse chief and his two sons after a vicious battle in which the father has been seriously wounded. A rite of passage is about to be observed when a tour bus of tourists comes into view, presenting a whole new set of challenges. Out of time comedies are nothing new but Barrington succeeds by packing his ten minutes with verbal wit and visual comedy, all laced with a deliciously mordant vein of dark humour and a stunning backdrop of the Scottish Highlands.

Penelope

As if something with Juliet Stevenson and Hattie Morahan could anything but, Dan Susman’s Penelope is simply gorgeous. Shot simply in black and white, and following the first meeting between these two women, there’s a perfectly calibrated release of key information throughout the seven minutes or so to give the story a hugely emotional throughline which is just gloriously done. Well worth hunting down.


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