JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Cons and Consequences (Directors: Tonia Mishiali, Rankin, Ryan Daniel Dobson, Dan Connolly, Kevin Lacy) - July 2, 2014

Cons and Consequences

4.5 4.5

Reviewed for the 20th Annual Palm Springs International ShortFest
From little white lies to incredible whoppers—what can anyone believe anymore?

What fun to have a set of films loosely tied together by the fine art of lying-with-purpose. Of course, sometimes being willfully deceitful serves the greater good (don’t worry, those nasty weapons of mass destruction will turn up sooner or later), but more frequently are utilized for purely selfish reasons. Best of all are the lies that are completely misunderstood until filling in the blanks reveals a heart of gold.

Queer Pretenders

Dan Connolly
2014, 17 min.
Four stars

Joining the team in the name of hetero bliss

Director/writer/co-star Connolly has a mostly fun (after you get past the Ricky Martin joke—name recognition gone mad!) take on a visa-seeking, suddenly Odd Couple (David Harrison is Ricky, Connolly doing the moustachioed honours as Martin), as they try to convince a government official (gamely played by Belinda Miesveski) that they are as queer as a three-dollar bill and hence qualify under Aussie rules for a visa extension.

Most surprisingly given the abundance of lavender movie buffs in Palm Springs, the admission by the newly minted gays that their relationship would “fill a hole” fell flatter than a certain NBA owner’s colourful scolding of his decades-younger belle. No matter, the quiche arrived on cue.

Overwhelmed by stereotypical set dressing, the comedy still fired on several cylinders not least of which was the brief appearance by Amy Lephamer, tearing strips off her man in front of the also relationship-challenged federal bureaucrat.

Thank goodness for the ceramic lovebirds, firmly nestled into the dashboard…could anything other than a happy ending take wing? JWR

Would-be robbers on the job

Young Americans
Kevin Lacy
2013, 30 min.
Four-and-one-half stars

What we do for love

A trio of lies (good, evasive, bad) are masterfully woven into Lacy’s well-crafted story of a coming-of-age foster girl, Mercedes (Stevie Lynn Jones demonstrates a commendable range of emotion), opting to change her life and those around her by robbing a bank in Needles, California. Who better to enlist as accomplice than perennial head-over-heels/forever-smitten-with-you boy, Denver (Matthew van Oss is now ready for bigger assignments, keeping his cool in a way that made Lacy’s knockout narrative punch provide an all-too-rare surprise in the dénouement).

With Mercedes’ motive to become a modern-day Bonnie to Denver’s “theoretical” Clyde more or less hidden from view, the heist finally shifts into high gear when the enraptured young man realizes that the love of his life isn’t as selfish as she lets on to be.

For her part, Mercedes has to deal with an awful truth that leaves her more abandoned than ever before (underpinning the oh-so-true adage once again that attitudes change, but actions don’t).

Now it’s time to prod the money men/women and make sure that there is a feature in Lacy’s future: that would be something they could take to the bank! JWR

Dead End
Tonia Mishiali
2013, 15 min.
Three stars

Till deaf do us part

A long-suffering couple goes through the motions of living. The wife, with mobility challenges and a desire to put on her finest begs her spouse to “take me to church.” With a convenient physical challenge of his own, the husband is happy to employ selective hearing whenever it suits his purpose. Wreaking havoc in the small town’s streets flying about in his baby Fiat, the wily man seeks the refuge of a nearby forest to satisfy his secret vice (the film’s funniest moment reveals just what that is, where the possibility of door number two may scare a few eyes shut).

Lurking quietly in the background is the economic mess that so many European countries still find themselves in—and that’s no lie. JWR

2013, 12 min.
Three stars

Don’t get mad, get even

Rankin’s tale of a 4-years-service concubine’s revenge on her former provider/bedmate is stylishly presented but has all been done before (no Le Carré twists here, cross-reference below). Question: Since no one in the production is telling the truth, should viewers feel pity for any of them?

The final frames most literally deliver the goods after the “sender” is already languishing in a dead letter box. JWR

The Romantics
Ryan Daniel Dobson
2013, 14 min.
Three-and-one-half stars

One-upping of a most deadly kind

Similar to The Brunchers (cross-reference below), director/writer/actor Dobson’s Portrait of the Artists as Young Style -fiends (with apologies to James Joyce) lifts off with an invigorating joie de vivre sorbet only to play the “I’m more Romantic” than you gag a few times too many (like a fine Schumann sonata, a second subject is most certainly wanted to provide balance—still, the bondage whipping scene is appropriately cheeky).

The framing graphics add to the overall tone and do not wear out their welcome. Employing a singular voice (narrator Robert Shampain doing triple duty as competition guide and literal mouthpiece for the lip-synching Dobson and Kimberley Alexander—her physical comedy showing much promise even as the ink stains never lie…) also works well.

But don’t take my word for it: the capacity crowd seemed to enjoy every frame from the Polaroid moment to the blood-feast. Everyone was then rewarded with some fine-art violin interventions as the credits also rolled to black. JWR

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Cross-reference(s): Please click on the image link(s) below
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