TIFF 2006 Preview: Short Cuts Canada
This year’s Short Cuts Canada selection was given a rather short shrift by Now magazine, but having seen a selection of the shorts, we consider their opinion rather short-sighted (“cut that short right now”– Ed.). A word to the wise: Much like the Wavelengths programme, we’ve seen several of the films but not all of them, so there may be many gems still hidden.
After all, part of the fun of a programme like Short Cuts Canada is seeing the work of several new or unusual filmmakers on one ticket. It can offer more discussion and be more interesting than a heavy gamble on an unknown feature, even if occasionally a film won’t be to your taste.
Short Cuts Canada Programme 1
The Broken Hearted: A cute little film imagining the broken heart as a literal complaint; though well filmed and impeccably designed, it’s ironic that it seems to lack an emotional core. 2.5/5
Love Seat: Frankly a rather creepy film, even if it is supposed to be a comedy. A seat sniffer is, after all, rather an unlikely ‘hero’. Entirely unremarkable (other than the creepiness, natch.) 2/5
Ninth Street Chronicles: This surprisingly enjoyable tale of a largely ostracised girl and the strange 1980’s suburbia she inhabits only suffers because it feels like a feature that would run at a leisurely pace, squashed into a short that runs a mile a minute. Funny and charming nonetheless. 4/5
Patterns 2, Patterns 3: Perhaps these should be judged alone, but then, they are shown one after another (it’s a shame that Patterns 1 isn’t included this year again; though Now seem to think it is). These are strange and playful films with gorgeous design; utterly hypnotic, and with the song-and-dance sequence of Patterns 3, endlessly quotable. Nigh on unmissable. 4.5/5
Also featuring: The Tragic Story of Nling and La Tête Haute.
Short Cuts Canada Programme 2
Elizabeth Short: A video collage piece exploring the infamous Black Dahlia case, this is short, sharp, but forgettable, even with the graphic images of the murder scene. Perhaps a work that reveals depth after multiple viewings, after only one we felt nothing. 2/5
The Last Bang: A short comedy about a guy who looks and acts like David Schwimmer taking his granddad to a whorehouse, it never actually reaches ‘funny’, though a dream sequence fooled us into thinking it might take a fun turn (it didn’t.) The ending comes across as heavy handed moralising, which seems misplaced. 1.5/5
A Life of Errors: About a couple ‘unmaking’ love, this film, full of unusual rituals and exacting cinematography sadly pales into comparison to the Patterns series, despite not really being the same thing. Becomes dull about half way through, though initially it seems pretty good. 2/5
Also features: Les Jours, Nude Caboose, Suspect and The Wait.
Short Cuts Canada Programme 3
The Ecstasy Note: The main character is like a cheap knock off of Paul Giamatti, though almost grotesque in his lack of charisma. Indeed, this film is just as uncharismatic; the tale of a man who makes people orgasm by sticking a fork in his hand, it aims for comedy of black variety and gets the ‘blecch’ variety instead. Immensely dislikeable. 1/5
The Saddest Boy in the World: To reference the above review, it is entirely unfortunate that you, dear reader, are going to have to sit through The Ecstacy Note to get to this, one of our favourite short films ever. Seriously. Jamie Travis, of the superb Patterns 2 &3 (part of the Short Cuts Canada Programme 1, above) has created a miniature masterpiece; impeccable set design, humour and timing. The self-explanatory story is a wonder, and if Jamie Travis isn’t the next big thing we’ll be entirely gutted. This man has talent, and we can’t emphasise this enough – you must see this film. 5/5
Also featuring: By the Hour, Couldn’t be Happier, If I See Randy Again Do You Want Me To Hit Him With The Axe?. Où est Maurice? And Plume.
Short Cuts Canada Programme 4
Eaux Mortes: The short but touching tale of a loved one being lost to old age. Features naked old people ‘getting it on’ but even that scene is graceful and glowing with a cinematic beauty. Excellent. 4/5
Also featuring: À l’ombre, Christ in Wood, Cloudbreaker, Double Woman, Pretty Broken and Saskatchewan Part 3.
Short Cuts Canada Programme 5
Screening: This is… A worthy film, let’s say, in the current climate of fear, particularly when it comes to air travel, but this tale of a woman crapping her pants because she can see a Muslim is unbelievably transparent, and features a lazy, obnoxious twist. That a Sigur Ros track is used in the climax is an even bigger dagger to the heart. In short: MUSLIMS ARE PEOPLE TOO SHOCKER. 1/5
Starlight Tour: This is only slightly less diabolical. A film of three male high-school graduates biking around Vancouver’s Stanley Park and mumbling aimlessly about what they’re going to do with their lives, it accurately portrays the type of boring twats you probably knew when you were their age. Unfortunately, most people have absolutely no reason to want to listen to the soporific ramblings of teenage morons ever again. 1.5/5
Also featuring: Air de rien, Aruba, Intolerable and Supposed To.