Category Archives: Short

Very Nice, Very Nice (1961, Arthur Lipsett)

Very Nice, Very Nice is a collage of sound clips and photographs where Lipsett discusses the vapidity of an uninformed, disinterested populace. Of course, Lipsett made the film in 1961 and in Canada, but it’s just as relevant today as it was then… in fact, it’s probably timeless.

As an artifact, it goes to show the general public was ever really particularly more informed or interested in being informed than they are today.

Lipsett mostly uses stills, but does include some motion footage from an atomic explosion and a rocket firing into the sky. The atom bomb is, of course, a distressing image. But the rocket is not. In fact, it comes during Very Nice’s most upbeat moments, possibly because of the background music.

The short’s successful because Lipsett isn’t trying to put forth a thesis. He’s ruminating the modern condition. There’s no ominous or foreboding ending.

It simply stops.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Arthur Lipsett; produced by Tom Daly and Colin Low; released by the National Film Board of Canada.


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The Lost Thing (2010, Andrew Ruhemann and Shaun Tan)

The Lost Thing is based on Shaun Tan’s picture book, which explains how it juggles being melancholic while still full of wonderment. It’s a partial, epically told metaphor for growing up. It’s a lovely little film with a great structure.

The first half contains most of the scenes. The protagonist finds this gigantic, friendly creature (maybe an octopus in reverse diving gear) and brings it to his friend’s then brings it home. The second half concerns him trying to find a place for it, since his parents aren’t understanding.

In that second half of the film is where the film realizes all its promised magical qualities. It suggests them in the opening few moments—Michael Yezerski’s score is fantastic—but it doesn’t fulfill them until it moves away from traditional scenes.

Tim Minchin’s narration is problematic. The writing is fine, but his voice isn’t.

Still, he doesn’t hurt the quality.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Andrew Ruhemann and Shaun Tan; written by Tan, based on his book; edited by Leo Baker; music by Michael Yezerski; produced by Sophie Byrne; released by Passion Pictures.

Starring Tim Minchin (The Boy).


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Guillotine Guys (2010, James Ricardo)

Guillotine Guys is weird. Not so much in its content, but in what’s good and bad about it.

Protagonist Russ Kingston is a fantastic physical actor. The first half of the short is silent and Kingston is wonderful. The other actor, Mark Wood, is lousy. His expressions are terrible.

The second half, with dialogue (which seems like an odd choice, not to do it at first, then to bring it in), the situation reverses. Kingston is awful and Wood is fantastic.

Ricardo’s direction is pedestrian. A lot of it might be the sets—the majority of the short takes place in a convenience store (a real one), but there are two scenes on sets. They look bad. Between Ricardo’s composition and Christopher Gosch’s lighting, it looks like a soap.

But, again, Guys is incongruous… and Ricardo’s dialogue is great.

It’d almost be worth seeing, but Jason Solowsky’s score is intolerable.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Written and directed by James Ricardo; director of photography, Christopher Gosch; edited by J.R. Lizarraga and Aron Rosenthal; music by Jason Solowsky; produced by Monique Yamaguchi and Ricardo.

Starring Russ Kingston (Elmer), Mark Wood (Punk) and J.C. Maçek III (Doctor).


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The Pact (2011, Nicholas McCarthy)

From the first few seconds of The Pact, one thing is clear—McCarthy has amazing composition and editor van Zyl knows how to cut. The first half or so of the short is a conversation between a brother and sister, played by Sam Ball and Jewel Staite, respectively. Two more things become clear as the conversation progresses.

First, McCarthy writes great natural dialogue. The details of the film slowly come out over the beginning over the conversation, never forced. Second, he knows how to direct actors. For the conversation, the majority of Staite’s performance is physical, how she tilts her head, what her eyes communicate. Ball gets the flashier lines.

Then the film changes, becoming something uncanny, while still retaining the reality. McCarthy introduces the idea in the conversation, then carefully shows it.

The Pact’s single problem is a fast dolly for emphasis. Otherwise it’s perfect. McCarthy’s a fantastic filmmaker.

3/3Highly Recommended

CREDITS

Written and directed by Nicholas McCarthy; director of photography, Bridger Nielson; edited by Adriaan van Zyl; music by Ronen Landa; production designer, Walter Barnett; produced by Sam Zuckerman; released by The Farmer Company.

Starring Jewel Staite (Anna) and Sam Ball (Adrian).


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