JWR Articles: Film/DVD - Josiah | Mizaru | Dirty | Educated | Day Release (Freigang) (Directors: Kyle Laursen, Sudarshan Suresh, Matthew Puccini, Tim Nicoll, Martin Winter) - June 26, 2020

Josiah | Mizaru | Dirty | Educated | Day Release (Freigang)

4.5 4.5

Reviewed at the 2020 edition of the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival.
Five shorts seen virtually

20 minutes, France
Kyle Laursen
Four and one half stars

“Speak, not yell”

In our current days of “shoot first, ask questions hardly ever”, COVID-19 killing more minorities than the “entitled” along with the most egregious, buffoon president of all time, Laursen’s audition-tape story (Luke Forbes vying to play Josiah, a Civil War slave finally freed under stressful circumstances by his general—that character echoing Uncle Tom’s Cabin), hits many, many racism nails on the head, even as mostly white police continue to mow down black unfortunates.

As Josiah, Luke Forbes gives a performance worthy of an Oscar—and much more. His tape 1 rendering, being just good enough to convince white director-writer (Kevin Dunn as Jack) to request a “second tape”—fuelled by their obvious service in the US Army (some salutes cannot be faked).

The second reading is a marvel: emotions boil to the surface even as the “N” word seems not worth the breath to utter it (as is today).

Hearing the dulcet tones of Sammy Davis Jr. on the way to the exits, is a wonderful metaphor for what really matters in today’s extra-nasty world.

Let the “yelling” continue! JWR

17 minutes, India
Sudarshan Suresh
Four stars

Hanging out

On Valentine’s Day, a young Indian couple are exploring the contents of their underwear in a public park, only to be discovered by the pathetic sex police who, obviously, have nothing better to do.

In these days of systemic bullying (er, hello there George Floyd et al), this wee short packs a punch far beyond its weight.

Can’t we just get along? JWR

11 minutes, USA
Matthew Puccini
Three and one half stars

Second time lucky

As we often said during my career as a musician. “If only we could have started with our second performance…”

In this veritable, er, two-hander, Marco (the charming Moran Sullivan) and Graham (Manny Dunn begging the camera for a wide shot), opt to skip class, get naked and let the world go away (so refreshing to see a white-black relationship founded on mutual love and desire). But when the sheets become stained, the new lovers face a moral test of the highest order, leading to a laundromat coda for the ages.

Director-writer Puccini seems to be ready for a feature. JWR

19 minutes, UK
Tim Nicoll
Four stars

Learning more than I wanted to…

In an Oxford prep school (with copious bells a ringing) Andrew (Stephen McMillan delivers an appropriately semi-bewildered performance as the earnest student craving his first female kiss in the shadow of his roommate’s manly nipple), tries to ”please” his educational master, Hepworth (wonderfully understated, but with obvious intent by Jamie Michie).

Fans of John Le Carré will savour the homecoming.

Writer-director Nicoll is ready for bigger fare. JWR

Day Release
34 minutes, Germany
Martin Winter
Three stars

In defence of condoms

During a “day release” from prison, imagine meeting your son on his third birthday; Grandma is a wreck and you have to beg for coins in the street (third time lucky) just to have a sandwich.

Dad offers a wee bit of cash, but little else. Precocious Christopher seems oblivious to it all: lucky him.

Some lives should never have happened. JWR

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