Friday, August 16, 2013

Brief Words about Short Films by Festival Friends: "Legitimate", "Primary Colors", and "Univers Fascia"

Write movie reviews, and you get sent lots of requests to write movie reviews. Most of them, admittedly, I ignore, especially if they're short films - there's not really a place for shorts in the most visible place I review movies (eFilmCritic), a lot of stuff you are sent is not very good, and who has the time? But, when it's friends (or at least folks you know, if you worry about how much sustained contact you've got to have to use that word), you might as well make an exception.

I met Izzy Lee and Gabriela MacLeod at different film festivals - Izzy was programming the first full week-long Boston Sci-Fi Film Festival a few years back and pulled in various guys like me from the marathon message board and other places to help screen films, while I was lucky enough to have Gabriela grab the next place in line after me at a Fantasia screening this year (It's Me, It's Me, if I recall correctly) and actually strike up a conversation rather than just sort of wait quietly, even after she'd heard me start talking. They're both great folks who have taken the leap from loving movies to making them.

I kind of wish I could, but I will often slow to a stop when I see the basic shape of the thing in my head, frustrated by the way just putting one word after another can be a grind, intimidated of the whole process of rallying all the people necessary to make , and fearful of the end result inevitably not being what I imagined. These ladies, on the other hand, are driven to produce something. I don't think I've ever actually seen Izzy upset in person, but I've certainly read royally pissed-off reactions to things she finds unjust on social media, and "Legitimate" is a response to one of the dumber things a politician has said during an election year. I'm not sure what gets Gabriela upset, but chat with her between movies, and that she doesn't just love to create, but is almost compelled to, comes through loud and clear. Biking across Europe? Bring a camera and shoot something. Working a dull desk job? Fill a notebook with ideas. Going camping next weekend? Well, she's going with an actress, so what kind of found-footage horror can they make?

When I get around to writing the various short film programs I saw at Fantasia up, I'll probably be kind of rough on some, even though the vast majority are probably the work of folks like Izzy & Gabriela, working with whatever equipment they can scrounge up and friends who are just as enthusiastic. These, of course, are made by friends, so I'm dispensing with star ratings (a good idea in any case) and mostly just pointing in their direction.

"Legitimate" plays this weekend in two cities - twice at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge on Friday the 16th (once during the 4pm block of films during the Massachusetts Independent Film Festival, and before a specially 11:45pm showing of Rob Zombie's Lords of Salem, and once on Saturday the 17th during the 6:30pm block of movies at the Mascara & Popcorn International Film Festival in Montreal attheatre Sainte-Catherine. For future screenings, bookmark Nihil Noctem Films' site.

"Primary Colors" played during the "Trans-a-gression" block during Fantasia's Fantastique Week-End of locally produced shorts back on July 26th; I'm not sure when it and "Univers Fascia" will pop up again.


Seen 15 August 2013 in Jay's Living Room (Online Screeners, Vimeo)

"Legitimate" opens with the quote that inspired it, one of the dumber things an office-holder has said in recent years. You remember, that "legitimate rape" usually doesn't cause pregnancy. So when a skeevy-looking guy identified as a Senator sits down to take in some burlesque, what's coming should be pretty clear.

It doesn't end up as quite the blunt response I was expecting, though - dancer Karin Webb is given some time to strut her stuff, and a lot of the obvious, retaliatory violence is kept somewhat implied. Still, in the movie's quick six-minute run-time, Izzy manages a nice piece of misdirection and a nicely gross bit of special effects or two. The short ultimately gets to the place one expects and wants, and not by the most direct and obvious route.

"Les Couleurs Primaire" ("The Primary Colors")

Seen 15 August 2013 in Jay's Living Room (Online Screeners, Vimeo)

Gabriela, you have a sick sense of humor.

I'm a bit loath to say more, because this is a two-minute movie that is, like most good movies of that length, pretty much one joke, to the point where you don't grade it but just say pass/fail. I'm going to go with pass, because I laughed even as raising my eyebrows at it.

I must admit to being vaguely curious as to whether this is a song everybody in Quebec learns in elementary school that is being twisted or just a well-done pastiche of one.

"Univers Fascia"

Seen 16 August 2013 in Jay's Living Room (Online Screeners, Vimeo)

This one's an abstract sort of thing - folks doing yoga with elastic bands strung between limbs, so stretching causes them to become taut and form patterns, that given the black leotards and backgrounds, seem somewhat free-standing. You've kind of got to be in the right mood for it, and I'm not going to lie - past midnight may be either the best or worst time for this.

I mostly liked it, though. My first impression was of suspension bridges, which was a nifty association, and I dug the way Gabriela played with combining very analog techniques of drawing lines with digital compositing to get patterns out of them interacting. It's some pretty elaborate doodling, but the end result is pretty neat.

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