Jason is busy at Sundance, so El Vez is taking over with the second half of Sundance Online Program reviews. If you missed Part 1, catch it here.
92 Alonzo Mourning Rookie Card—dir: Todd Sklar | USA | 12 min
Jim and Dave are brothers who haven’t spoken in years and don’t like each other very much, but are forced to come together for a week when their dad dies in Kansas City. A limited edition 1992 Skybox Series Alonzo Mourning rookie card is a point of contention.
The death of a loved-one is always a great way to reunite squabbling siblings, but reunion is not always a good thing.
Working as a precursor to feature length film Awful Life, Sklar described his thinking behind linking films by declaring “I thought it would be cool to be able to not just know exactly what we’re doing next, but have it tie into the short itself.”. ’92 Skybox Alonzo Mourning Rookie Card displays comedic signs of the reckless family relationships on show in Adam McKay’s Step Brothers, whilst subtly skirting around the larger issues at hand, leaving you eager to delve further into this dysfunctional duo. Brothers Jim and Dave reunite once again in Sklar’s feature, as they gravitate together once more to refurbish the house inherited from their departed dad. It’ll be interesting to find out more about the foundations of this family feud.
The Arm—dir: Brie Larson, Sarah Ramos, Jessie Ennis | USA | 9 min
In an attempt to keep up with social pressure in a technologically advanced world, Chance starts a texting relationship with Genevieve, a girl he meets at a yogurt shop.
Spawned from the incredibly simple realization that text messaging was funny, quirky short The Arm was written during a 3hr bus ride, conceived in just over 2 months (1 month pre-production, 3 day shoot & 1 month post-production) and cost a measly $800 to shoot. Centering around a fleeting teenage romance, made possible by the wonders of SMS messaging, this is a short that manages to be both sweet and sour in its brief duration. Whilst the entertainment levels are high and smiles are cracked, The Arm is a film that rides high in the moment, but feels instantly forgettable.
Dol (First Birthday)—dir: Andrew Ahn | USA | 11 min
A gay Korean American man yearns for a family life just out of reach.
Korean traditions and gay relationships are explored in Andrew Ahn’s tentative tale of a family gathering to celebrate a first birthday.
Short films are often at their best when presenting a slice of a story, leaving the viewer wondering what came before and what unravels after. While Dol (First Birthday) may have you intrigued to find out more about the customs of Korean families, the relationships within feel un-nurtured and undeveloped. This is not to say Ahn’s film is totally without weight, bubbling under the surface is a filmmaker who obviously has a message to deliver and a quietly confident way of doing so.
The Debutante Hunters—dir: Maria White | USA | 12 min
In the Lowcountry of South Carolina a group of true Southern belles reveal their more rugged side, providing a glimpse into what drives them to hunt in the wild.
“I think that most people think that a women with a gun is pretty hot” states hunter & southern belle Beverly Helms early on in Maria White’s Kickstarter funded short. While Debutante Hunter’s provides an intimate look into the previously uncharted world of ladies who to love hunt, the novelty of the subject soon wears thin. Once you’ve become accustomed to the fact that yes, ladies do like to hunt, you’re pretty much just watching some women wander the woods, which isn’t particularly thrilling.
Henley—Craig McNeil | USA | 11 min
Meet nine-year-old Ted Henley, budding motel manager and roadkill entrepreneur.
Director Craig McNeil is no stranger to Sundance with his 2004 debut short Late Bloomer featuring in the 2005 competition. With a feature (The Afterlight) and another short (Lobos) sandwiched in between, McNeil is back at the festival 7 years later, with his striking short Henley. Feeling like you’ve stepped into the life of one of Harmony Korine’s Gummo characters, McNeil’s odd film was one of the more original shorts on show at this years Sundance. With a fantastic performance from its young star at its heart and some standout cinematography on show, Henley’s originality is bound to make it noticeable in whichever festival it finds itself next.