Friday I reviewed the 9 retrospective short films available to watch for free in the Tribeca Streaming Room. They underwhelmed me, which I found odd—shouldn’t the program have been comprised of nothing but slam-dunk, all-star selections? Anyway, today we shift focus to the films that are actual 2011 Tribeca Film Fest selections, and fortunately I think they are much better. 5 mini-reviews are below, and part 2, with the remaing 4 2011 Tribeca Online Short Films will be forthcoming. You have till the end of the month to view most of these, so reserve a spot in the virtual screening of your choice now.
Rooms: dir. Joanna Jurewicz | USA | 12 min | 2011
“Anonymous rooms, anonymous people. An immigrant maid in an airport hotel escapes the monotony of her routine by memorizing the arriving and departing planes that connect to her home. In one room is a pilot and an unexpected connection.”
Let’s start with my least favorite of the bunch. Not a bad film, just…so expected. Look! its an immigrant from America’s underclass, and she has dreams! But, she must choke back the bitter tears of disappointment! What’s that? If I hold shots of vacant faces in the edit and don’t include dialogue, then you’ll know something important is going on underneath the surface?
With films like this the empathetic connection to the character is either made or it isn’t, and having seen too many of these short character sketches, perhaps I’m biased against them at this point. However, I simply think the script and the performances don’t provide enough oomph to force you to really give a damn.
Ride: dir. Marion Pilowsky | U.K. | 10 min | 2011
“On a deserted country road, a student happily accepts a ride back to town. However, the day takes a turn for the worst when the driver gives voice to disturbing thoughts. An uncomfortable conversation between strangers quickly becomes terrifying when the driver’s psychotic nature is revealed. Frightened and intimidated, the student finds himself in a situation from which there is no escape.”
This is a lovely looking and professionally done work, but it should not be a short film. It feels incomplete. Our character is painted into a corner, facing a moral, and potentially dangerous quandry, that has you, as a viewer, tense and engaged. But then the film ends. The twist itself is a little limp for the buildup frankly. Seems like the first 10 minutes of what would be a good feature film.
Mr. Stache: dir. Jac Schaeffer | USA | 10min | 2011
Winner of “My Movie Pitch“, a contest launched by American Express to help bring unique independent movie ideas to life, this is a very serious drama about a man who grows a mustache, and everybody hates it, and then he meets the girl of his dreams….
Cute and well done short film. Nice to see the result of AMEX’s competition which I heard a lot about last year. If you’re curious, this was the winning pitch. Quirky, humorous, with nice acting from Amy Smart and Mad Men‘s Rich Sommer, the film has a nice, satisfying narrative arc with just the right amount of preciousness.
The Kiss: dir. Ashlee Page | Australia | 16min | 2010
“Fueled by alcohol and hormones, 16-year-old friends Aimee and Steph take a swim in a fire water tank to escape the stifling heat on a hot summer night.”
The less you know about the film going in, the better—this film is a revelation. Superior in almost every regard, it gathers you up in its rhythm and takes you for a ride you won’t soon forget. A Best of Fest-caliber short film.
Dungeon Master: Strong Bros. | USA | 13min | 2011
“After they discover they were both fantasy geeks as kids, Shane and Cooper decide to spend a night playing Dungeons and Dragons. But they can’t remember the rules, so they invite a true gamer to help them. When he shows up in a cape, things get awkward quick.”
My expectations were low after reading some negative reviews on the internet, but this is really quite a good film. Its not blazing new ground in geek humor, but I thought it was funny and perceptive. The main negative is a strange tonal shift 2/3 of the way through that is uncomfortable and paints the main character in a bad light. However at least it was unexpected, and resulted in a climax that was even more unexpected. A strong outing.