Monday, February 9, 2015

Minute-By-Minute

At least once a year, I do a live-ish blog. That is, I share my thoughts about each short film as they are screened. I say live-ish because I'm not writing this during the movies, that wouldn't be fair to the filmmaker. Instead, I'll go through my notes as I wrote them.
 
Keep in mind, I'm not the only judge. I think we had five or six people in our room last night, so this is just a fraction of the audience reaction, and final decisions are not made until all of the movies have been screened.  

Here we go. First film.

Good Logo. Regular readers will know that generally means, bad film. When resources are limited, spending a great deal of time, money and energy on a logo often indicates the filmmakers aren't focused on the right thing.

The cast in the opening scene are below par, as is the dialogue. I can hear the typewriter clacking – meaning the dialogue isn't natural in a bad way.

As the movie goes on, the cast and dialogue get better.

There are multiple flashbacks that are hard to follow and not the best use of the short film format. This feels like a cut down feature – meaning the filmmaker wanted to make a feature, but for whatever reason could only make a short. That's always a bad idea. Short stories aren't little features any more than stage plays are stepping stones to the movie. Respect the format you're working in.

The end of the movie gets ridiculous. Beats that are supposed to be serious are so out of context that they get laughs. Ouch! PASS

Next Film.

No Logo. (I don't always make note of logos, but we got to talking about it in the room between movies).

This film has a nice use of silence and pace – meaning the dialogue flows naturally and the director isn't afraid to let the action pause when warranted. Not to be confused with a bad use of silence and pace, aka, slow.
Good in all departments.  MUST SEE.

I can always tell when I really like a movie because I don't take a lot of notes.

Next Film.

Good Logo.

Nice compression of time. This film spans many months/years and they do a good job of showing that without slowing the film down or hitting us over the head with it.

At the beginning of the film I wanted to hate this movie because the two leads were giggly and sickening in that cute couple sort of way. By the end of it, I loved them both. Nice character arcs by the cast and director. Subtly works wonders.

This movie ended nicely, too, which is rare. MUST SEE. (Yes, I'm aware that it was a good logo).

Next.

The opening scene lays flat. There is no clear objective/obstacle for the characters. The middle scene is funny and nicely done, if a hair over-the-top. It will make a nice bit for the cast's reel.

After that, the movie falls apart. The characters become unlikeable; the dialogue, unbelievable. If this were written by a 10-year-old, I'd say it was a great film. Otherwise, no. The cast should be commended for committing fully to the writer/director's vision. Too bad they couldn't buy him glasses. PASS

Next.

This film has a good cast and good, natural, dialogue for the most part. There are very clear objectives and obstacles for both of the characters, so that makes the scenes pop. I didn't like the end given how crisp and clear the rest of the movie is. SECOND LOOK.

Side note: In real life, how many women keep their bra on during sex? I don't mean, keep everything on for a quick one in the storage closet. I mean, grown up, romantic, all night long – naked in every way except for the-bra sex. We see this constantly independent films, and it gets in the way. I can understand that an actress might not want to bare it all in a project she's not sure about (or any project at all). That's fine, so directors, shoot around it. Make us believe these are real people, not two actors in a showcase theatre production.

Next movie.

Another film with a good use of silence and pace. The cast deliver their lines quickly with tight cues, so when it's quiet, we pay attention. This dialogue is hilarious and the cast are a perfect fit. The filmmaking skills are also good. The end is predictable, but who cares? This is a fun ride – if a little cramped and dark. (That's a hint about the movie, not a dis on the art and camera departments). MUST SEE.

Next.

This is an incitement movie – meaning, it looks like they filmed the first ten pages of a feature film. I'm on the record as preferring this over a short that tries to squeeze in every beat of a feature script, and it's certainly a good way to raise money to make the feature, but it's also tricky. To make it a short, the ending has to be satisfying. In the feature, it doesn't end, so it's fine to leave the audience hanging. Tricky stuff. This particular movie had a great start, but didn't hold onto the campy style promised in the beginning. It faltered in the middle as the style changed, so when the ending wasn't satisfying, most of the audience felt cheated. Still, there was some good filmmaking here. SECOND LOOK.

Next Film.

This film suffered from something I've seen a lot of in the digital world, and that's darks that are way too dark. We could not see faces when we should have been able to, nor could we see silhouettes when that is what it looked like the director was going for. This film had a strange dynamic in that the cast appeared to be skilled, but they weren't directed well. I got the feeling the director might have said, "Show me," or "We need to see what you're feeling."  Those two phrases are a sure way to make for over acting. The dialogue sounded typed as well. PASS.

Side Note: How many times in your life have you said, "My dear"? I'll bet none. How many times have you heard it in a bad movie?

The last movie.

This was an animated piece. The story didn't make a ton of sense, but I didn't care. It was so beautiful, and I felt like a kid trying to guess what the characters were thinking or doing. It was a nice way to end the night. MUST SEE.


That's it. Thanks for reading. See you here next week.

3 comments:

Cheryl said...

Sounds like a lot of good films!

RSMellette said...

Yes, we were lucky last night. The other screening room didn't seem to have been so fortunate. That makes for a LONG night.

We really, REALLY, want every movie to be a good one.

sooz said...

Currently chipping away at editing my latest short film, this post has really gotten me inspired to tighten it up. Thanks as always for your informative efforts!