JWR Articles: Film/DVD - HollyShorts 2014 - Love and Romance (Directors: Alejandro Montoya Marín, James Gallagher, Catherine Black, Justin Canel, Felipe Torres Urso, Harris Doran, Satsuki Okawa, Francisco Lorite) - August 21, 2014
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HollyShorts 2014 - Love and Romance

4.5 4.5

Reviewd at the 2014 HollyShorts Film Festival
Love found, lost, rekindled, destroyed and missed

Love found, lost, rekindled, destroyed and missed

Lovers of all sizes, preferences, hair growth and in any stage of development would find something to savour in nearly all of these productions. Even after so many millions of love stories have already been written or imagined, there are still ways of finding a new twist on the universal state of couples trying to truly understand one another.


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The Princess and the Musician
Alejandro Montoya Marín
2014, 14 min.
Four and one-half stars

Living their dreams, at last

This virtual two-hander (once the scene-setting Superman bet pays out) brings together a wanabe Princess (Kristen Rakes) with a music reviewer (Marín) who would rather make tracks than write about them. After the X-Files test has been successfully passed, the getting-to-know-you—both have had relatively recent failed relationships—sequence marvellously develops warm affection and possibility.

Then, inspired by a chance encounter with a Disney Princess in the making, the potential cure for diabetes is summarily removed from the to-do list even as the historical siren call, “to the horses,” provides a compelling disruption of two formerly dull lives. JWR


The Oven
James Gallagher
2014, 11 min.
Four tars

How to respond to a third-party proposal

With a marvellous echo of the lippy narrator in Eric Kissack’s The Gunfighter (cross-reference below), the bickering, smoker-on-the-sly Sally (Anna Camp) and cardigan-sporting Owen (Skylar Astin) have the argument of their loves and lives, fuelled by very personal in-car radio revelations (done up with panache by Chris Messina)—think “if you could read my mind” out loud!

Happily, amusingly, Owen’s marriage proposal, albeit made by a surrogate, falls on receptive ears—even as everyone learns that the blushing groom will never stop cracking his knuckles.

Do stick around for the final “reveal”—it’s the sort of post-coitus cooler which most assuredly ought not to have been placed in the public domain. JWR


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Delicious Ambiguity
Justin Canel
2013, 17 min.
Four and one-half stars

Engagement party from hell finds a bit of heaven

The title most definitely says it all in this speactacular engagement dinner that most certainly holds nothing back (everyone’s sex drives and activities—or lack thereof—er, come to the forefront while classic jazz provides aural—musical, that is—interest between and during the raucous revelations.

When the guests of honour “enter arguing,” the hostess dutifully comforts the bride-to-be with a full-on smacker that reverberates throughout the madcap meal.

The yucks are delivered fast and furious before the calm after the storm of insults proves that even blind love can be made to see. JWR


The Story of Milo and Annie
Harris Doran
2014, 17 min.
Three and one-half stars

Speechless no more

Curiously more akin to the searing drama found in Of Mice and Men (cross-reference below) than a vrai love story, Doran has, nonetheless, crafted a fascinating portrait of an artistic introvert, Milo (Doran casts himself), being drawn out of his traumatized shell by Annie (Rachel McKeon), who just won’t take no for an answer (especially effective is Arthur Lafrentz Bacon’s extra-colourful score during the “follow him home” segment).

The odd couple’s key meeting at the fairgrounds—“cyclone” becoming a silent metaphor on its own—would benefit from a more plausible dénouement, but the lingering feeling of hope for everyone—no matter what horrific incidents refuse to vanish from memory—will be welcomed by anyone who worships at the altar of despair. JWR


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Operation Barn Owl
Satsuki Okawa
2014, 14 min.
Three and one-half stars

Shakespearian construction for the 21st century

A tad too predictable, but with excellent production values, Okawa’s summer solstice celebration will certainly appeal to those amongst us who witness the secret love of their lives slip permanently from their grasp, unbeknownst to the other.

The play within the film is easily the highlight. A bit more ambiguity (see “Delicious” above) could have sent this production into the heavenly realm of cinematic angels. JWR


De Puta Madre: A Love Story
Catherine Black
2014, 16 min.
Two and one-half stars

Kidnapped runs amuck

This film probably read better than it looks. True love is in short supply—with the kidnapping conceit overpowering its Romeo and Juliet-like (playing the lead, Black’s dress, “crypt” posture after despatching Worst Case and sumptuous banquet all make the link progressively stronger—it’s just the “wrong” family this time around) resolution.

Instead of eating crow, the male protagonist (full-bore delivery from Pierluca Arancio) takes flight. JWR


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Bald
Felipe Torres Urso
2014, 23 min.
Three stars

Over abundant threads and tones need more room to grow

Now approaching an epidemic of unseen narrators talking back to their subjects (see “Oven” above), Urso can’t seem to make up his mind regarding the tenor and tone of the “insignificant” Jeffrey Bunion as he struggles with losing the love of his life: a full head of hair.

The notion of “every hair a little death” (with apologies to Stephen Sondheim) and the related support group is suddenly discarded with the appearance of Linda (Camilla Belle) whose hairless skull has nothing to do with nature taking its gene-driven course.

Once in a while, shorts cry out for feature length in order to do justice to the—otherwise—compelling material: this is one of those times. JWR


Mediation
Francisco Lorite
2014, 14 min.
Five stars

A heady mixture of story and style

Perhaps writer-director Lorite has singlehandedly created a new genre: Divorce noir.

With more surprises than The Crying Game (and in a fraction of the time), the extra-passionate mediation between Roman (Freddy Rodríguez) and Victoria (Marley Shelton) is a visual (cinematography by Carlos Montaner) and dramatic (Lorite also penned the script) tour de force that—thankfully, for whomever might have had to follow if there’d been a ninth film in this set—closed out the love fest with a decided bang.

Even the coda packed an unloaded punch that most other filmmakers can only dream of landing. JWR

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