Tuesday, 17 June 2014

5 SHORT FILMS/ 1 NIGHT - Reviews By Greg Klymkiw - Reviews of recent CCE nominees screening at Toronto's illustrious Royal Cinema: THE ARCHIVIST, METHOD, ROSBILT, SUNDAY PUNCH, WALK THE MOON

5 SHORT FILMS / 1 NIGHT: The Canadian Cinema Editors (CCE) presents a screening at The Royal Cinema of 5 short films all nominated at this years annual CCE awards.

Paul Day,
Ray Savaya,
Erin Deck,
Mark Fifield,
Richard Mandin

Gregory Smith,
Roman Tchjen,
Jeremy Ball,
Allan Powel,
Maire Tacbas

All 5 films are feted in this delicious presentation of the finest in Canadian Short Drama. This is a great opportunity to see such diverse pieces the way they were meant to be seen - under the roof & on the big screen of one of Toronto's premier exhibition venues, The Royal Cinema, with its gorgeous sound & projection.

Reviewed in Alphabetical Order

The Archivist (2013) **½
Edited by Richard Mandin
Written and Directed by Jeremy Ball
Produced by Glen Wood and Jordana Aarons

Starring: Pip Dwyer, Jesse Aaron Dwyre, Peter Messaline

Review By Greg Klymkiw

The Archivist was part of "Stage to Screen", a commemorative project created the visionary young producer Glen Wood of ViDDYWELL FiLMS in collaboration with The Ontario Heritage Trust (and co-produced by Jordana Aarons) to mark the 100th anniversary of Toronto landmark The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre Centre. Emerging filmmakers were invited to scout the theatre and present a concept for their short film. Six films were selected for production to take advantage of the venue’s historic architecture and atmosphere. This visually impressive dramatic fantasy involving a projectionist at loggerheads with his boss when he actively investigates a series of mysterious disappearances in a movie theatre, proved to be the second weakest of the group of aforementioned shorts (three of which were dazzling, one of which was solidly and artistically ambitious and one that was relatively inconsequential). Ball's film was certainly closer in quality to the upper half of the equation, though proved to have more style than substance. Its most egregious sin is one that might be overlooked by audiences, but the picture has the faint aroma of "Calling Card" wafting from it. The picture is very well crafted, but in that "Look Ma, we can make a movie" manner so many short films are cursed with. The end result is something that's not really about much of anything at all. In its defence, plenty of big budget mainstream feature films are also adorned with such attributes.

Method (2013) ***
Edited by Paul Day
Directed by Gregory Smith
Written by Peter Mooney (from Smith's Story)
Produced by Kevin Krikst and Sonia Hosko
Starring: Shawn Doyle, Sarain Boylan, Katie Boland

Review By Greg Klymkiw

A cop interrogates a woman. It sounds simple enough, doesn't it? Deceptively so, since life (and good movies) are never, ever that simple.

Driving the intensity of this confrontation are highly personal elements: the woman needs to testify against someone close to her and the cop is personally connected to a crime victim. It can't get more intense than this and Method is a classic set-up for a short film. That said, though, the picture breaks a few important narrative barriers, thus allowing for layering that stems from the simplicity and not the horrendous other way round where emotional and thematic levels take precedence and the whole thing crumbles into transparent didacticism. Opening with a breathtaking cut that sucks you in immediately, then settling into a more conventional cutting framework for, as you'll discover, very good reason, until the piece continues along with a trajectory - dramatically and stylistically - that's unexpected, to say the least.

rosbilt (2013) ***1/2
Edited by Mark Fifield
Directed by Marie Tacbas
Starring: Ross Stuart
Produced by Mike Kirkwood

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Utilizing elements of classic Cinéma Direct as pioneered by Michel Brault within the context of creating a slice-of-life narrative in documentary film is best achieved when the hand of the filmmaker can be felt via carefully selected and placed dollops of footage that advance the story with methods of more conventional tools such as the spoken words of the subject.

These words, derived through interview and/or simple directed conversation, then transformed into naturalistically-derived narration from said subject allow for greater adherence to "manipulated" (in the best sense of the word) storytelling, flying in the face of Direct Cinema and/or even that of strict cinéma vérité. To achieve this successfully in a short film, as it is in rosbilt, is quite often nothing short of a miracle as the "breathing space" is going to automatically be restricted by the parameters of both the running time and the choice to present the material within a shorter framework. Focusing upon the unique skill and artistry of the film's central subject, Ross Stuart, we're allowed a slice-of-life glimpse into the creation of musical instruments - banjos, ukeleles, etc. - cobbled expertly together from materials not automatically associated with generating exquisite, practical implements that will emit gorgeous music. It's a lovely film that works perfectly as a short, yet inspires the notion that rosbilt could also work perfectly as a segment within a much larger film devoted to unconventional methods and materials used to create implements that bring aesthetic beauty to people in ways they'd never imagine.

Sunday Punch (2013) ***
Edited by Erin Deck
Written and Directed by Alan Powell
Produced by Matt Code and Alex House
Starring: Jessica Greco, Ennis Esmer, Rod Black, Art Hindle

Review By Greg Klymkiw

A filmmaker using Cinéma Direct and Cinéma Vérité to create a blend of (literally, as you'll discover) kitchen-sink domestic drama that borders on qualities of Neo-Realism is, frankly, hard enough to achieve with any degree of success.

To then spin things and practically morph into creating drama within a re-creation of a reality television episode is to lay oneself open to the considerable potential for either folly and/or slick but ultimately hollow trick-pony gymnastics. Happily, Sunday Punch melds these implicitly disparate elements into a movie that's as fun, sprightly and clever as one would want, yielding a supremely entertaining and original work that offers-up a funny, biting and affecting tale of acrimony within a simple, but layered love story. That the film features sports announcer Rod Black offering play-by-play and Art Hindle dispensing colour commentary (similar to his hilarious work in the original indie feature Monster Brawl) borders on some kind of mad genius.

Walk the Moon (2013) ****
Edited by Ray Savaya
Written and Directed by Roman Tchjen
Produced by Vaishni Majoomdar
Starring: Nina Iordanova, David Sherwood, Ethan Singal, Rod McTaggart

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Walk the Moon is one of the finest short Canadian films I've seen this year (possibly in quite a few years) and signals great things to come from its entire creative team. Led by an exquisite performance from Nina Iordanova as a deaf teen adjusting to a new school, a fractious relationship with a parent and how the fear of silence in this delicate stage of a child's life compounds her decidedly dour state, yields a genuinely heartfelt affair which also roils with undercurrents of darkness. Deftly and with great artistry, this is a movie that cascades from present tense to flashbacks and through dreamscape with astonishing maturity at every level. The intelligent use of soundscape is subtle and effective, blending ever-so gorgeously with the astonishing visuals, delicate pacing and a careful attention to nailing the picture's dramatic beats. This is a deeply moving film - as much for its thematic and narrative content as for its virtuosity. The film contains cuts and images that are breathtaking, yet rooted firmly in the narrative trajectory and as such, I was not only dazzled, but compelled to shed more than a few tears. Bravo!

5 Short Films / 1 Night plays Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 7:30pm, The Royal Cinema, 608 College Street in Toronto, $5 - Members, $7 - Everyone Else. For further info The Royal website HERE.