Category Archives: Short

Smoke (2007, Grzegorz Cisiecki)

Cisiecki eschews a traditional narrative for a series of short segments—the longest takes place in a room in the same chain as Lynch’s lodge from “Twin Peaks”—and binds it all together with this cassette tape playing.

Smoke opens a lot better than it finishes. Cisiecki’s static composition is fantastic and the first minute or two of the film is nothing but those shots. Then he introduces movement. I’m not sure if it was the transfer from film to video or if it looked as rough originally, but any shot where the camera moves is awful and any shot with movement in it is generally not good.

Cisiecki seems to be a believer of tone over content and, in those terms, Smoke is reasonably successful (if basically just regurgitated Lynch). But there’s nothing compelling about it after the first minute or two.

Still, it’s short and the music’s perfect.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Written and directed by Grzegorz Cisiecki; director of photography, Dawid Rymar; edited by Grzegorz Cisiecki and Cecylja Pacura; music by Rashid Brocca and Aleksandr Poroch; production designer, Maciej Bieganski; produced by Justyna Siedmiogrodzka and Norbert Nowak; released by PWSFTviT.

Starring Marta Szumiel, Grzegorz Golaszewski, Oriana Soika, Bartlomej Nowosielski, Katarzyna Dalek, Hubert Jarczak, Malgorzata Kocik, Mark Malak and Krzysztof Wach.


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Robin’s Big Date (2005, James Duffy)

All the Warner Bros. Batman films have, for the most part anyway, avoided the Adam West TV series.

So thank goodness for Robin’s Big Date, which doesn’t just embrace the show, but forces it into “reality.”

The big draw of Big Date is Sam Rockwell playing Batman. Sorry, The Bat-Man. He and Justin Long–as Robin–are in these homemade costumes (watching Rockwell tilt his head to see out the eyeholes is hilarious) and the whole thing feels absurd. Except it’s Rockwell and Long giving these earnest performances of these moronic characters.

Callie Thorne rounds out the principal cast. She does great–even managing to contain her laughter, though one can see it’s a struggle. Oddly, the film’s reality is so “real,” she’s in an abusive relationship and the superheroes can’t do anything to help.

Duffy’s direction is mediocre, but it’s all about the acting and Will Carlough’s writing.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Edited and directed by James Duffy; written by Will Carlough; director of photography, Trish Govoni; released by The Red-headed League.

Starring Sam Rockwell (The Bat-man), Justin Long (Robin), Callie Thorne (Kate), Josh Hamilton (Tony) and Will Carlough (Man).


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Red Princess Blues (2010, Alex Ferrari)

Oh, it’s Robert Forster narrating? It sounded like someone doing a William Shatner impression.

Red Princess Blues is a superhero short. Sure, Rachel Grant is playing a kung fu vigilante (or something), but it’s basically a superhero thing.

It opens with a very nice shot of a carnival (the establishing shots utilize the Panavision aspect, the content itself does not–Ferrari restricts his actors to the center of the frame) and narration suggesting an exposé of carny life. It’s not.

Richard Tyson–who’s fantastic–is some drunken would-be rapist after a young girl (Tabitha Morella). Grant saves her, takes out Tyson and the armed, kung fu carnies backing him up.

Awful supporting turns from Aurelia Scheppers and Alejandra Morin. Grant’s clownish; Morella doesn’t have enough lines to display any acting ability or lack thereof.

Ferrari’s editing is bad, but it doesn’t matter–once the “action” starts, Princess gets unbearable.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Written, directed and edited by Alex Ferrari; director of photography, Ricardo Jacques Gale; music by Cris Velasco; production designer, Carlos Osorio; produced by Sean Buck, Dan Cregan, Ferrari, Gale, Osorio and Kelly Andrea Rubin; released by The Enigma Factory.

Starring Richard Tyson (Rimo), Rachel Grant (Princess), Tabitha Morella (Zoe), Thushari Jayasekera (Strawberry Mary), Aurelia Scheppers (Silky), Alejandra Morin (Loca Marie), Mitch L. Guy (Quick Mitch), Michael J. Sielaff (Skinny Dubois) and Brian Hite (Clyde Ledbetter); narrated by Robert Forster.


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Amblin’ (1968, Steven Spielberg)

Amblin’ might have more charm if I cared about hippies. The film should be called, The Adventures of Two Hitchhiking Hippies. Or one and a half hippies. I’m not even sure they’re supposed to be hippies, maybe just kind of hippies. There’s no dialogue in the film (oddly, it’s not even implied the two protagonists talk to each other even off screen) so it’s hard to know.

The majority of the film’s very long twenty-six minutes plays like a reel of commercials. There’s a cigarette commercial, a candy commercial, then some unspecified ones. They’re well-made commercials, I suppose.

Spielberg has some good shots. Nothing great, but some decent, ambitious composition. His story’s pretty lame though. Leading man Richard Levin is bad even without having to speak. Pamela McMyler is far better.

The big reveal is weak and obvious; it ruins any good will Amblin’ had going for it.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Written, directed and edited by Steven Spielberg; director of photography, Allen Daviau; music by Michael Lloyd; produced by Denis Hoffman; released by Four Star Excelsior.

Starring Richard Levin and Pamela McMyler.


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