JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Palm Springs International ShortFest 2017 - Random Shorts (Directors: Laura Belinky, Theo Ribeiro, Nicholas Colia, Teemu Niukkanen, J. Adam Brown, Eddy Fifield) - June 26, 2017
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Palm Springs International ShortFest 2017 - Random Shorts

4.5 4.5

Reviewed at the 2017 edition of the Palm Springs International ShortFest.
Slipping away from prix fixe for a round of à la carte

Over the course of the Palm Springs International ShortFest, the programmers have gone to great lengths to cobble together groups of films that are arranged by theme or sexuality.

Below is a covey of films where no two are from the same group: variety is most certainly the spice of life! The methodology? Choose one film from each page of the printed program.

Land of the Wind (Tierra del Viento)
Laura Belinky, Theo Ribeiro
Four and one half stars 18 min.

Living with the wind

In their portrait of fine art photographer Eliseo Miciu Nicolaevici, Belinky and Ribeiro succinctly answer the proverbial question: Can you see the wind? Their reply artfully comes via the black-and-white stills lovingly, heroically shot on Patagonia, Argentina. The actual wind is invisible but the effect of near-constant blowing in that part of the world is abundantly apparent, be that condors soaring magnificently far above the earth, wild horses’ manes, tails and whiskers being silently ruffled or all manner of vegetation swaying to the impulse of a constant, natural “drummer”. This part of the planet comes to glorious life in unforgettable splendor, power and passion.

The soundtrack from Claudio Xunorus—featuring much guitar and some dollops of flute and string quartet—flows as easily and readily as the subject matter.

Miss it at your peril, if only to marvel at the sheep bridge at full capacity. JWR


Alex and the Handyman
Nicholas Colia
Three and one half stars 14 min.

Meats, cheese and whiskey

Colia threatens to hit one out of the park with this charming tale of a nine-year-old extra-lavender boy, Alex (seemingly born is Keaton Nigel Cooke who has no qualms about swishing with guys many years older), who opts to replace whatever love his absent father may have given him with the hunky, twentysomething handyman (Aaron Profumo, convincingly aloof; resplendent in his briefs).

But the date-rape-drug reversal leaves a decidedly bad taste in this era of truth and reconciliation for many more heinous predator crimes that took decades to see the awful light of day.

Miky von der Nahmer’s original score offers a much-needed tonic to the largely innocent fun. A viewing is worth your time if only to judge for yourself if we’re ready to laugh about false accusers working their way into boy-man love. JWR


Fucking Bunnies
Teemu Niukkanen
Two and one half stars 17 min.

Satanic carrot cock tale

Exploring the theme of tolerance for refugees (no matter from where they may come), is as topical as it is important subject matter. Niukkanen tries to make his points by plopping a Romanian polygamist (18 wives, no less) into a social housing complex and right next door to the squash-loving conservative who is not at all interested in showing up for his neighbours’ house-warming event, entitled: The Eternal Night of Sodom and Blasphemy. Not so the overt bigot of the complex who happily plays Twister, fucks women and manages to break both hands during the anything-goes open house.

Perhaps funnier if one lived in Scandinavia, but Fucking Bunnies barely raises a hare of humour. JWR


Dust
J. Adam Brown
Four and one half stars 14 min.

Two sisters

Brown has done the transgender community and most especially their families a huge favour by turning his lens on the considerably younger brother—and his unbridled turmoil—when Isaac blossoms onto Amy (largely out of view, since the transformation has happened away from the family home).

Beginning the film with Logan (William Ellis convincingly managing the wide array of emotions required) capturing a caterpillar, sets the stage for the butterfly-like transformation that is just frames away. Playing Isaac/Amy, Percy Hynes White deftly employs stoic understatement to balance his confused brother’s outburst. The pivotal funeral scene is masterly shot as the principals go head to head yet do not stare each other in the eye.

Thanks goodness for the wolf-repelling dust working its longtime magic: it’s the best potion to drive scary thoughts about unexpected change far, far away. JWR


Happy Birthday
Eddy Fifield
Three and one half stars 6 min.

What if technology actually worked as promised?

Here’s a dark, cautionary tale that takes the possibility of Facebook’s unfriend feature to a very explosive level. Sooner or later the technology will become sophisticated enough to make anyone with a smartphone at risk of leaving the planet with a ceiling-drenching splatter. Perhaps it already exists…

Karl Steven’s original score is at one with the action, birthday party or not. JWR

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