Wednesday, 10 November 2010

LEEDS FILM FEST: UK Drama Shorts

Gold Top: cute and probably one of the more satisfying in the collection. A young boy helps out the milkman with his Christmas deliveries, but has his own one to make – a Christmas card for the girl he likes who lives on the round. There’s something very homely and nostalgic about a milk van, and watching it travel through the snowy country lanes in the dawn light to a chorus of clinking bottles. The simple pleasure of a cup of tea and a mince pie has never been so inviting (and I don’t even like mince pies!). The best bit was when the boy realises the girl has made him a Christmas card in return – and it’s decorated with a gold bottle top! I want one of those cards!

Watching: really not sure what to make of this one. I think it was trying to be too clever, and it ended up being unlikeable. The story and the dialogue were so unrealistic and contrived – nobody talks like that, these kind of weird events don’t happen to normal people, so don’t set it in an everyday cafĂ© to elevate it. If someone came up to you and started giving you a character assassination and weird, coded instructions you would not just sit there and take it, no matter how much you’re tempted to stay by an envelope of cash and some clever words. And it was SO obvious when he shook his hand that he had stolen his watch – gah! Not only inflated but predictable. I don’t understand how the victim (awful actor) was so impressed by being conned at the end either – grinning annoyingly to himself and then becoming a ‘man of action’ by asking out the waitress. A smug waste of time.

The Terms: actually, maybe this was more of a waste of time. A father and son, who have a fractured relationship, agree to terms which give each a shot at each other with a gun after the target first gets a head start. It was supposed to be darkly comic, but again I found myself thinking, this just would not happen! Or – on this one occasion if it did – just shoot each other dead, then! I don’t care! There wasn’t enough subtext/background to support the story, so I was never vested in this short.

Part of Me: Oh, I could barely even watch this one. It was horrible. Not in terms of acting/story/direction but in terms of the graphic subject matter and the way it was presented in such a stark and brutal fashion. One of the most uncomfortable and harrowing things I ever watched. Thank God it was only a short!

The Holiday: ***winner*** I loved this! It was quite painful and sad to watch, but more in a bittersweet way than depressing you out for the rest of the day. A middle aged man pretends to be happily married and going off on holiday with his wife when really it’s an empty boast to his ‘friends’ at the burger van, and in actuality he lives alone as a carer to his elderly mother. Watching him bring the lie of going to the Costa del Sol to life by buying self-tan, stocking up on microwave meals for two weeks so he doesn’t have to leave the house, ordering a t-shirt from the internet – it hits all the tragi-comic-pitiful-base emotions you have in your body til you just ache. And the worst part – his mates knew all along he was lying… but don’t let on! It’s nice they don’t seem to care whether he’s happily married or not but they still shouldn’t let him make a fool of himself... (see, I’m vested). Really worth catching if you get the chance.

Silent Things: first thing to say about this – I recognise that girl! Yes it’s Miss Georgia from Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging (God I hate that title). Nice to see her doing a broad range of work. This also wandered into the realms of incredulity but at the same time it’s perfectly possible that a bright bubbly girl would make friends with an autistic man, lead him into taking the ferry with her to France, and then at the port be responsible for having him questioned by the police for possible grooming. There were parts that worked really well – the extra element of the man having a girlfriend who is also autistic and suspicious and confused by the new girl (“you can’t just decide that someone is your friend”) was well played, although she did remind me an awful lot of the witchy neighbour in Edward Scissorhands

King of Deptford Creek: take everything I said about Watching and put it here. But actually I disliked this even more and would raise ‘smug’ to ‘pretentious poppycock’.

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