REVIEWS

Rendez-vous with God [Kevin Van Doorslaer, Belgium, 2018] /// Predilection [Tabitha Walker, UK, 2017

Funerals gone wrong make for surprisingly common comic material. Death at a Funeral [Frank Oz, UK, 2007] and the continually unsung nineties classic Mousehunt [Gore Verbinski, US, 1997] both show that in some dark, twisted and sometimes touching way, corpses and comedy just go together. Kevin Van Doorslaer’s Rendez-vous with God is no different. Following the antics of two stoned siblings grieving their father the night before the funeral, this film is a morbidly witty tribute to loss and laughter. As soon as the film opens in a funeral parlour (run by a brilliantly cast duo of bumbling undertakers) two things are immediately striking. The first: this is a talented filmmaker. The second: thi

Straange Attractors [Richard Paske, USA, 2018] /// Spremuta di Mostro [Daniel Mercatali & Michel

When musician Richard Paske sat down on his piano in Minneapolis in 1998, it is unlikely that he envisioned the results becoming a computer composited experimental film twenty years down the line. The importance of never throwing away one’s finished work has never been more felt than it has for Paske, with a new life breathed into his original eleven bar blues. By passing his original live recording jazz ensemble piece through the Ableton Max for Live plug-in Oscilloscope v.2.0, Paske has created his own personal Windows Media Player-esque visualizer, where the erratic arrangements on screen match the free-form composition of his music. Paske’s music is vibrant and energetic, and the visual

Letters from Eniwetok [Ed Carter, USA, 2018]

Letters from Eniwetok is a 12-minute experimental short film from Boston-based British director Ed Carter. It tells the story of a young woman (played by Hazel Rodes) who discovers various objects buried at the beach near her home and the effect on her life this ritual has. Shot in evocative black and white with superb lighting, the short film is an effective little piece, which successfully portrays the intimacy of discovery. The plot’s events, as detailed above, are occasionally interrupted by a static/white noise effect, disrupting the protagonist’s cosy life as she puts the found objects to use in her quaint home. This effect is at once both unnerving and revealing, as it suggests that s

The Drone Master [Sébastien Duhem, France, 2018]

The year is 3049, humankind is finished, virtually bereft of existence, with the last man alive placing his own survival in the hands and will of a machine, relying on it to share and record his final days. The Drone Master's narrative is open and expansive, with nods and references peppered throughout for sci-fi fans. For instance, the drone’s recorded name is a direct reference to Alien [Ridley Scott, US, 1979] and, from the outset, there is a feeling and shape similar to cult favourite, Hardware [Richard Stanley, UK, 1990], albeit with less malevolent intent, but they certainly share a similar aesthetic and steam-punk inspiration. Early on in the film, our titular drone master (Guillaume

Nivette [Gaëtan Boschini, France, 2018] /// A Great Fall [Jez Leather & Jonny Cola, UK, 2018]

Les Schini’s Company’s ability to deliver an extended piece of dance choreography that is both fantastically interesting and deceptively subtle is an achievement that should, under no circumstances, be downplayed. Gaëtan Boschini’s direction and Mélodie Cecchini’s choreography are both ludicrously strong. Nivette explores society’s attitude towards the elderly and its predominately pejorative outlook towards the processes of ageing and physical decay. As a piece of short form cinema, it views like the less “angsty”, decidedly more upbeat sibling of Georgia Parris’s Mari [UK, 2018]. The fact that both films can accompany and compliment each other in the same sentence is testament to their con

First Impressions Can Kill [Eddie Bammeke, UK, 2017]

Have you ever seen a movie and thought, "this actor is truly killing it"? Well, in Eddie Bammeke’s short film First Impressions Can Kill, that is exactly what the seemingly plain, loving and smiling Jane Higgins (Lynn Lowry) is doing. A lovely, middle-aged woman with a broad smile, shining blonde hair and a bubbling personality enters an empty audition room for a production entitled ‘Cockney Holocaust’. Jane is immediately portrayed as a passionate and ambitious actress, who has attended a variety of acting seminars and always ‘gets the role’. Once Jane decides she wants a role, however absurd or seemingly ‘unsuitable’ for her appearance, age group or even gender, there is nothing that can s

Beautiful Wotevers [Francesca Schweiger & Louis Gering, Germany/UK, 2018] /// A Cowardly Lot [Ti

“Life is a cabaret”, according to Sally Bowles in Cabaret [Bob Fosse, US, 1972], the hit musical with an unoriginal name. In their fantastic and hugely inspiring documentary Beautiful Wotevers, Francesca Schweiger and Louis Gering take us to contemporary London to show just how far the form has come from the days of Liza Minnelli and dodgy German accents. Held every Tuesday in the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Bar Wotever is London’s only weekly queer variety showcase. This documentary interviews performers, as well as showcasing their talent, making a very persuasive argument for why inclusive spaces such as this one are so important in the current arts scene. The documentary is very stylishly fil

Unsent Letter [Christian Gordine, UK, 2018] /// Are You Volleyball?! [Mohammad Bakhshi, Iran, 2018]

Christian Gordine’s Unsent Letter imagines the story of a World War II serviceman as he recollects profound memories shared with a former lover. The narrative inventively transforms the original letter into a moving on screen performance, where Gordine personifies tumultuous themes of love, discontentment and idealism. The short opens with the ambience of surging ocean waves washing against a coastal shoreline. The audience is presented simultaneously with a brief written synopsis, unraveling the film’s narrative. Christian Gordine's strategic dispensing of shots capturing serene images of the coastline cleverly displaces the focal milieu within which the plot of the story is centred. Brian

Whose Dreamland? [John Barlow, UK, 2017] /// Payal Chawla: The Mind That Matters [Ajay Chitnis, Indi

Using the visual connectivity of national waterways, Whose Dreamland? collects filmed sequences from English seaside ports and towns, as well as constituencies along the Thames estuary, to give visual context to some of Britain’s staunchest euro-skeptic areas. Our visual journey down the quintessentially British Thames estuary into the most historically significant port of UK boarder defence, Dover, grounds the documentary’s account of regional attitudes concerning the EU. Through its focus on Dover, a historical bastion in the defence of British ideals in the face of the ‘other’, as well as Margate, a town adversely affected by the rise in affordability of overseas holidays in the 1970s, fi

Ford Mustang: Get in Line [Rick Peters, USA, 2018] /// Wear Your Emotions: Delight [Masaya Matsui, F

This spec commercial from director Rick Peters is a slick and straightforward piece of advertising. The commercial starts with a Ford Mustang driving through a desert, kicking up copious amounts of sand and dust as it speeds across the landscape. Close-ups of the car’s wheels and grill both provide a sense of speed and show off the details of the product on sale. After making a doughnut in the sand, the Mustang stops and the driver exits the vehicle. He hands the keys to a waiting friend and the camera pans out to a long shot of a queue of imminent drivers. It is both a well-executed visual gag and a fun way of implying the Mustang’s popularity. In short, Ford Mustang: Get in Line is everyth

Coins [Carson Wilds, Australia, 2018] /// Wear Your Emotions: Delight [Masaya Matsui, France, 2018]

‘Why is physical cash still around?’ is the implied question that Carson Wilds aims to answer in this short commercial centred on a street mugging. Wilds uses humour and irony in attempting to display the inconvenience of hard currency, implying that even a desperate thief doesn’t have the time to wait around for cash. Coins begins at night with a man walking through an alleyway and stumbling across a coin on the ground. A dishevelled and hooded robber confronts the man, demanding his watch and wallet. Reluctantly, the victim reaches into his pockets grabbing large handfuls of coins, all of which he accidentally spills onto the pavement. He reaches down to retrieve the coins, taking an inord

Gaslighting [Tina Matzat, Germany, 2018]

Gaslighting is a domestic drama that situates itself within an abusive modern relationship, where one partner expects to share the perfect bond, whilst the other feels the need to cause arguments that amount to bullying, creating an intensely unhealthy environment. The atmosphere of manipulation and intimidation is what informs the film’s title. It comes to the point in the relationship where Victoria (the film’s protagonist) decides she cannot tolerate the way she is being treated and resolves to toughen up. Once she takes action in this manner, things begin to tip in her favour with her partner becoming increasingly sympathetic to her needs. But his kindness doesn’t last for long as he gra

LP [Nikita Kardakov & Anton Chebotov, UK, 2017] /// Penny [Louisa Harris, UK, 2017]

Have you ever had one of those days where the whole world seems to be plotting against you? In Nikita Kardakov and Anton Chebotov’s short film LP, this is exactly what happens to Stephen (played by Mark Phoenix) when he buys a mysterious record. With excellent acting from Phoenix and intelligent touches throughout, this short grabs your attention for its frivolous sense of fantasy and subtle detail. LP is delightfully edited and visually very satisfying with scenes of careful symmetry and a bright retro palette. In fact, much of the short feels as though it comes from another time, or even a mix of times. Stephen’s archaically formal clothes, vinyl records and tourists crowding around an act

Reverie [Henry McClellan, USA, 2018] /// Engrammic [Billie Williams, UK, 2018]

Reverie is a delightful hand drawn animation that should be regarded as a must-see for anyone who claims to have a keen interest in the medium of animated film. The pencil drawn style utilised by animator Henry McClellan doesn’t claim mimesis, but instead reminds the viewer that this is a story that someone has imagined, a stylistic choice that benefits the main character’s unstable mental state. For the film’s Director Statement, filmmaker McClellan discusses the function of hand drawn animation, observing the ‘function of the drawn…as a direct realisation of the mythical’, a view that is clearly observed in this piece. The viewer follows the character Meryl as she goes to visit an elderly

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