Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Shorts Package 4

Seen 12 September 2004 at Loews Copley Place #1 (Boston Film Festival)

If I can get a little bloggy here, I nearly missed this screening because (a) I foolishly tried to fit showing my apartment to someone in between Easy and Short Package 4 and (b) something closed the red line down between Park and Kendall just when I needed to use it. So, I'm half an hour late getting back, I miss the potential roommate, and by the time I get back the first short has already started. I don't think I missed much of it, though.

"The Basement Tapes" - * *

Some folks just shouldn't be parents. When Paolo's reaction to his wife wife Rachel announcing her pregnancy is to walk to Jerusalem (Texas), dragging his buddy Mickey along (until Mickey's had enough)... well, it's not exactly heartbreaking to find out Rachel lost the baby. Until, of course, it sends Paolo off the deep end.

This is a pretty fractured movie, partially by design. Mickey is an easily distracted narrator, and though he mostly tells the story in chronological order, it feels like he's jumping around; filmmaker Josh Gosfield doesn't seem to have mastered the art of editing yet. Also, the end is just disturbing; as nuts as Paolo gets, I almost think that the way the short ends is the worst possible result.

"Genesis 3:19" - * * *

This short from Mexico's Dany Saadia is a weird one; it involves a man dying from leukemia asking his friend to carry out some last wishes involving a girl he saw - but didn't actually speak to - at a café. What could have been a really creepy "stalking after death" story actually winds up sort of sweet, as the friend and the girl find they have some things in common. It manages to fill in a fair amount of backstory without showing it. Note that what Ilan asks Eric to do with his ashes is kind of on the disturbing side.

"Twins" - * * ¾

I guess you'd call this a documentary; shot by Martin Bell at a Twins Days Festival in Ohio, 23 sets of twins were asked twenty questions, and the answers are spliced together. At seventeen minutes, it quickly becomes a little repetitive, as many of the twins have the same answers about how close they are. It's really affecting at times, but there are points where it just seems to be going to the same well too often.

"Spin" - * * * ½

Filmmaker David Marmor does as good a job of making physics interesting as anybody, encompassing everything from free-body diagrams to quantum theory in the midst of a good story of a physicist's mental breakdown after colliding with a car on his bicycle. "Spin" is hardly a dry lesson, though, as it becomes an intriguing study of a character who is so used to trying to figure out how the world works that he can't handle the randomness of the event that nearly killed him.

"Sparks" - * ½

"Sparks" made me want to slap characters around for being so stupid in record time. I'm not sure what bothered me more, the dancer working her day job as a cleaner in a hospital constantly wearing headphones and thus not being able to hear patients in the room flatlining, the hospital attendants who mention that one of the patients is capable of communicating my blinking Morse Code although nobody seems to bother to learn how to interpret what he's saying (that just strikes me as cruel), or the final bit of idiocy revealed at the end.

Now, here's the question: Does the "based on a true story" bit at the end make my anger a sign that the movie did a good job or not?

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