Log in

No account? Create an account
entries friends calendar profile Previous Previous Next Next
Stars in Shorts - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Stars in Shorts
The Procession: B
Steve: B-
Not Your Time: B
Sexting: B-
Prodigal: B
After School Special: B+
Friend Request Pending: B

So this is interesting: until now, the only short film collections released theatrically an shown locally by Landmark Theatres were the live-action and animated short films nominated for Academy Awards. Granted, they often included extra "honorable mentions" as well, but either way they tended to vary in terms of quality.

This one, being shown at the Varsity in the U District, is a collection that is much more consistent -- they are all adequate to good; none are terrible and none are great. I can't say I think you need to rush out and watch them. Maybe if you're a huge film buff. Or you really like great actors like Lily Tomlin and Judi Dench. I qualify on both counts, but most people probably don't.

Indeed, the one other truly common thread is that these shorts do feature "stars," whereas many of the Oscar-nominated shorts do not. Generally I'd say the Oscar-nominated ones are more worth your time, but these are okay too.

The Procession is a 12-minute film starring Lily Tomlin and Jesse Tyler Ferguson as mother and son. They work surprisingly well in such a relationship. Nearly all of the film features the two of them in their car, inadvertently part of a funeral procession for someone they don't even know. So, they don't know where the funeral is, and when a red light makes them lose the car in front of them, they have no idea where they are leading all the cars following behind them. It's rather one-note in its humor, but it's still fun.

Steve (16 minutes) features Kiera Knightley as a woman constantly bickering with her boyfriend and the subject of awkward attempts at friendship by their downstairs neighbor, played by Colin Firth. These are good actors and good performances but I wasn't as fond of this one; I didn't quite see the point of it, except maybe the young couple is too self-absorbed. But then, the downstairs neighbor is downright creepy. Being set in England, there's tea served, more than once. The opening credits feature a fantastic white-background shot of a tea bag submerged and bleeding its flavor into the water. That was my favorite part.

Not Your Time is 25 minutes of an apparently "mostly true" story: Sid Rosenthal (Jason Alexander) is a lover of musicals, wants to do musicals for a living, and is stuck in a crappy job editing swear words out of film soundtracks. Ultimately he decides he's just going to kill himself, and when he calls up all the agents he knows to say goodbye and he's going to kill himself, every one of them thinks he's pitching a movie idea. It's semi-amusing and it's nice to see Kathy Najimy as Sid's mother in flashbacks.

Sexting is eight minutes almost exclusively of Julia Styles talking. Styles has long been underrated, and she offers a nice performance here. But the "twist," as she sits down to confront the woman she believes to be married to the man she's having an affair with, turns out to be a little obvious.

Prodigal (25 minutes) features Kenneth Branagh as someone you're not really sure is a good guy or a villain. It doesn't matter that much when this is yet another story about a kid with telekinetic powers. Except I swear to god there was a passing shot of a book titled The Mysteries of Telepathy, which is not the same thing. Whatever. This is very well shot for a short film, with some pretty convincing special effects, but it has nothing new to say or offer. And once again it ends with a twist. Is that a prerequisite for completing a short film?

After-School Special (9 minutes) is perhaps the best of this collection, although it made me the most uncomfortable. Sarah Paulson and Wes Bentley are strangers eating by a kids' playground at a fast food joint, and they get into extremely awkward banter due to the guy clearly wanting to ask her out. That's bad enough, but then there's a reveal at the end that I won't ruin; suffice it to say that it simultaneously makes everything far more creepy in a completely unexpected way and lends the story integrity.

Friend Request Pending (12 minutes) is both simple and sweet, featuring Judi Dench as an elderly woman struggling with the nuances of asking a guy out via social networking on her computer. The word "Facebook" is never used but that's clearly what she's using. Dench, as always, gives the role a certain charm. There's no great depth to this story, but there could be: this was perhaps the one short in this collection that could have been fleshed out to a rather fun feature length story.

Lily Tomlin and Jesse Tyler Furguson lead THE PROCESSION of 'Stars in Shorts.'

Overall: B
Leave a comment