The Worldwide Short Film Festival opened last night so it’s too late to call this a preview, but we wanted to make sure we’d seen as many of the programmes we could manage before we offered you any opinions on what to go and see (and what to avoid). After the jump, previews of official selections Crime & Punishment and Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me; Japanese spotlight Genius Party; Celebrity Shorts; and Sci Fi: Out There. Pictured above: Baby Blue, which plays as part of the Japanese spotlight, Genius Party.
Official Selection 2: Crime & Punishment – Foreboding and unease are hard emotions to sell in short format, so it’s nice to see a selection of films in which several are very successful at that. The Second Line (pictured below) is a gripping look at life in (ahem) post-Katrina New Orleans; Down the Road‘s animation is a little bit basic but the story of a mysterious hitchhiker has its twists. Chief, the story of a Samoan on the run from his past is both funny and touching, but it might be Tomboy that stood out for us—looking at kids playing the choking game and the difficult transitions of youth. 100% isn’t particularly good (but it’s only a minute long) but the one we thought in advance wouldn’t be very good, How Much Do You Love Me? pays off its silly concept with a worthy punch line. Recommended.
Official Selection 2: Crime & Punishment plays the Cumberland 4 today at 4:00 p.m. and at 4:00 p.m. Saturday, June 14th.
Official Selection 3: Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me – Named after a U2 song that we’ve got a (surprising) soft spot for, we’re sad to say the only film we have a soft spot for in this selection is Mr Mustache (pictured), a cute little talking head piece about, well, men and their moustaches from Norway. Null-Null, also Norwegian, is at least quick to the point, but as for the rest, well, they’re the kind of short films that you wonder why they exist, they’re so bizarre, tedious or inept. Teenage Girl is the kind of film we’d call “style over substance” had it any style. Cursing Hanley suffers through an embarrassingly blatant conceit. Chainsaw looks nice, we’ll give it that, but it’s a mess. A mess? The best description for this selection.
Official Selection 3: Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me plays the Cumberland 4 tonight at 7:30 p.m. and at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 14th.
Japanese Spotlight: Genius Party – Well, they’re not all geniuses, we’ll be honest. Limit Cycle takes up 20 minutes of this Studio 4°C anthology and while its garbled futurism looks impressive, the cod philosophy is quickly tiresome, and is an unfortunate low point. The opening and Happy Machine are similarly challenging but (at least) conclusive. Shanghai Dragon is very entertaining and is the most traditional sort of anime you’ll find here (a small boy finds he holds incredible power—the reference points are perfect) and Deathic 4, set in a world of zombies, probably has our favourite look; it’s hard to tell the CG from traditional animation, almost. But it’s the softer, quieter films that are the most successful here for some reason; Door Bell features a teenager on a race to exist, and Baby Blue, directed by Cowboy Bebop‘s Shinichiro Watanabe is world’s away from his usually frenetic style, as two teens run away for a day to avoid tomorrow.
Japanese Spotlight: Genius Party plays the Varsity 8 at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, June 12th.
Celebrity Shorts – Celebrity involvement is kind of a daft way to categorize a programme, and as a result this programme veers wildly in tone—not to say it isn’t sort of enjoyable. Steve Coogan speaks about twice during For The Love of God, but it’s an ugly and amusing little film, and FCU: Fact Checkers Unit is probably the high point, featuring not only Kristen Schaal but also Bill Murray, excellently. Descendants is an awkward attempt at a fairytale, but nowhere near as awkward as Struck, a short with a lame Cupid’s arrow concept made (it seems) exclusively by Scientologists. It doesn’t feel like a recruitment tool, though, so its biggest crime is using that bloody version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow that you’ve heard in a million adverts. Cutlass is similarly iffy, with stellar cast (Kurt Russell! Chevy Chase!) but a backwards moral paid for by Clinique and Glamour magazine. At least closer I Am Bob managed to make us like Bob Geldof, with its cute story of an accidental appearance at a look-a-like convention; you may find certain reference points (Keith Chegwin) obscure, however.
Celebrity Shorts plays the Cumberland 3 at 9:15 p.m. on Thursday, June 12th, and the Cumberland 1 on Saturday, June 14th at 8:30 p.m.
Sci-Fi: Out There – A slightly mixed bag of vaguely science fiction shorts makes up this year’s out there selection. Some are a little weak in concept—Homework relies on a terrible punchline (and it’s not for cat lovers), Heaven Without Angels is the same old dystopian future and Rocket Science plays the “Americans are warmongers” card a little too hard—but others pitch it just perfect, from Primitive Technology‘s weird hipster scientists who create with the rule “no electricity” and Martians Go Home! (pictured), which has a perfect aesthetic—feeling like a sci-fi kids TV show from the 80s only a ton more violent. And a special mention for This Is J03, mostly because we recognize every street in Glasgow it was shot on.
Sci-Fi: Out There plays the Cumberland 3 at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, June 13th and the Cumberland 4 on Sunday, June 15th at 9:15 p.m.