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A Short Mission: JohnnyExpress

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Have you ever wondered exactly what would have happened with Horton hadn’t heard the Who? Imagine the fat fingers and big footsteps smooshing the entire village of Whoville because he couldn’t hear those tiny voices yelling stop? Well, wonder know more as that premise is explored in this brilliant, hysterical and a slightly bit disturbing short film from South Korea JohnnyExpress.

Written and directed by James (Kyungmin) Woo as part of Alfred imageworks, the neat little short revolves around slobbery deliver guy who has to deliver the tiniest package to the smallest of customers on a miniscule planet. What he doesn’t realise this is any of the above. It’s one small step for man and one giant disaster for the aliens inhabiting the planet, but does our delivery guy realise? No

Possibly funnier than any short Pixar has to other thanks to its micro –plot and fleshed out idea, JohnnyExpress is full of devastating laughs. Sure, you are laughing at millions of deaths but each squeaked cry for help hits your funny bone because the concept is so ludicrous and well thought out. The bright bustling colours of the animation that pops out of your screen drag you into it immediately. The delight of the movie is hilarious. Though, the horror of the purple peoples plight may not be so rib-tickling from the surface of that planet, but to us monstrous humans, it’s pure pleasure.

It also has not just one punchline, but two.

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A Short Mission: The Hiccup

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Now recently, I talked about how dark comedies are often wasted because the balance between offensive jokes and sensitive subjects are waylaid, it happened in the recent Grandmother’s Not A Toaster. However, I am pleased to introduce you to the movie where the active equilibrium between what is acceptable, what’s hilarious and what’s downright wrong is so incredible done that you’ll want to devour second helpings. It’s The Hiccup.

After a drug infused night went heinously wrong, Rob and Michael are skipping down and merrily heading to the borders of Mexico to start a life anew. What Michael did, we are never sure but we saw him wake up covered in blood, mumbling about murder and brandishing a Samuari Sword. However, Michael has a good buddy in Rob who is prepared to do anything to stop his friend getting into trouble. And when that anything comes along in the form of Mrs Fransiska, Rob’s devotion is tested to it’s limits.

This is less of a “holy fuck, what are they doing?” (actually, there is a lot of that…) but it’s more about Rob’s relentlessness to protect his friend who, unbeknown to us, could have slaughter an entire village. The hilarity comes from their chemistry as they slip from one outrageous situation to the next. While the acts committed may incite a nervous laughter and cringes, the added commentary from our protagonists is hysterical. Director Matt Smuckler has developed an intense comedy that shouldn’t be as funny as it is. But add the cinematography, two incredible actors and an excellent score that jauntily rolls along the film and The Hiccup becomes humorous, amusing and good be realised as a bigger film more akin to Harold and Kumar and The Hangover.

You can check out The Hiccup at Smuckler’s webpage here. 

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A Short Mission: Sun In The Night

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Earlier this year  I was swept up on Connor O’Hara and Lowkey film’s stirring and terrifying thriller Maengwyn. Tantalising and scary, the effective short definitely put the production company on the map. And here, with their proceeding film Sun in the Night, the team prove that they can take that excellence and put it towards hard hitting dramas such as this.

 

Sun in the Night centres on a small family struck by tragedy when the father, Mark, gets into a car accident that leaves him injured. When he returns to normal life, after a stint in this hospital, he cannot quite grasp his old self again. Tearing him further away from his family, can Mark regain who he was or continue pushing his family apart?

O’Hara’s drama is a poignant and hefty pieces that deals effectively with post traumatic stress and depression. Particularly in the first two thirds, O’Hara handles the sensitive issues surrounding Mark’s accident and the role is played incredibly well by Stephen Karl, who becomes this centric stunning character tackling the demons of his mind. Combining with the brilliant visuals, Lowkey films have developed a stirring short that highlights the difficulties that trauma can place you in whilst also opening up sympathetic reactions towards Mark. It’s a shame that the connotations of “you have loved ones there for you” aren’t entirely fleshed out as well as the first half. In fact, the story dissolves into a bit of a “snapping out of it” and “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” feel that forces this perception of trauma being a linear healing process. Though this may not be the line of thought initially, and talking to O’Hara its clear it should be more of an empathic response to carers in that situation. However, it is tackled a little bit ham handed for the end to sit well. Especially with some off key acting moments throughout. It’s a great effort, even with this unrealised end and stiff acting. And highlights a promising career for Connor O’Hara, Jamie Gamache and Lowkey Films

Sun In The Night will be released on Monday

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A Short Mission: Dust

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There is always something so special when a big named celebrity goes into a short. Not because they have star power to levitate the short and bring a certain panache to proceedings that relatively unknown talents lack (that’s not saying that unheard actors aren’t fantastic enough to bring a level of intensity and acting skill that will leave you speechless). It’s mainly because short film is often a waylaid art form that lacks investment and has a tiny audience unless it is sandwiched on a late night channel or before a main feature. When people like Alan Rickman grace a beautiful short named Dust, you know that more people will flock to the medium and watch more, levitating short film makers into a grander audience.

Dust, directed by Ben Ockrent and Jake Russell, is the perfect example of how to compact an inventive and fresh story into the space of seven minutes. Rickman, more famed for roles such as Hans Gruber and Professor Snapes, plays an unknown scruff of a man who observes a young girl and her mother and follows them home. It’s there where events take an unusual turn.

The tone of bleakness is handled extremely well. Playing with many themes that burn inside the viewer’s mind the minute an old man clocks a young girl, Ockrent and Russell intellectually play with the underbelly of worry we all have stirring beneath us. The sinister backlash of the audiences psyche is key to developing surprisingly tender short into something more magical than we first deemed possible. Helped by the minimal dialogue and the stellar score by musician Neil Myers (that very much harkens to Clint Mansell and John Murphy,) Alan Rickman’s role here is twisted into something more beautiful and different. It’s this uniqueness and the adept way that Ockrent and Russell handle the subjects present that give Dust this shot of ingenuity. Simply put, Dust is eloquent.

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A Short Mission: Brink

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Where would you be at the end of the Earth? Will you be with the loved ones? Would you find your soul-mate? This is what’s happening in Shawn Christensen’s 2010 short Brink. That name may seem familiar. At least I hope he is. In 2013, this Christensen scooped up the Academy Award for Best Short for his stirring and incredible piece Curfew. If you can, I urge you to download it now because frankly it is alarming endearing and wonderfully poignant. However, before Curfew shot him to fame, he directed this intensely beautiful short Brink.

Brink revolves around Jeremy who writes a long love letter to his best friend Evelyn. As he struggles on whether or not he should post it, the Earth is facing a catastrophic event that will erase the human race. Pulling Brink from what could have been stale cheesy romantic drama, it elevates (pun intended) it up into a dreamscape fantasy. Apart from the intense narration at the beginning of the movie, there is minimal dialogue.

Using intricate types of camera shots and intense moments that could only be caught in space, the movie burns with this delicate heart that feels fantastical yet seriously real. Christensen captures something magical and then uses clever techniques to pull you further in. Drenched in enormous beauty and a fragile premise, Brink is a divine short film.

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A Short Mission: The Days God Slept

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A couple of weeks ago, I covered a short film by a promising new director Jeremiah Kipp. If you haven’t seen it, go now. It’s called Drool and it is just dripping with Cronenberg tendencies. Kipp has rather largely solidified his existence as a prominent and future horror master, able to illicit completely terrifying visceral reaction with just a very simple concession of images. Here, we’re going to look at another one of Kipp’s shorts that may not necessarily have the same impact as Drool, but certainly has you thinking.

The Days God Slept revolves around the tentative and sometimes disturbing relationship between a man and a woman. However, she is not interested in him and Kipp showcases exactly what runs through a man’s mind when he is spurned like that. What may seem like a simple short, actually evolves into something new.

It doesn’t exactly hit the places that it should and it’s quite a head scratcher on first viewing mean multiple re-watches are inevitable. However, it is still a fresh story telling devise. It bounces in this complex cut up narrative way – burning with saturated visuals and aesthetics that dabble in confusing yet emotive philosophy. It is overcome with this cinematic poetry that theorizes over memory and scenarios of jealousy, demons, gratification and self-loathing. It’s a very smart movie, even if it doesn’t sit right on first viewing.

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A Short Mission: That Night

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They say that Paris is the City of Love, filled with the delicate French melodies travelling down the Seine and blinking lights like pulses aflame underneath the Eiffel Tower. They sometimes say that New York is the greatest city; never sleeping yet caught in the labour or romance as couples entwine like a Broadway Musical. Maybe the best cities for love is Rome, Brussels, Prague or Venice.

No. The city of cobbled streets, rich in history and the hum of Red Buses is where true love is found: London. None of that is more apparent than in Chris Foggin’s short That Night.

Starring James Corden and Alexandra Roach, That Night revolves around an unnamed man and woman who bond on an empty bus in London. She, being new to London from her home town in Swansea, inevitably winds up lost. Spurred on by the instant connection, he decides to help her and the two walk off around the twilight of the Capital.

This is a genuinely tender quixotic short. Though it captures some essence of Richard Curtis romantic comedies such as Love Actually, Foggin is fully aware to never let the film topple over into the over-sentimental cheese. Here, thanks to the writing and the undeniable chemistry of our leads, it is charming and human. It bounces with this delicate yet visceral story that you invest in instantaneously. That Night never falls into clichés either. Instead, it allows the dialogue to drive the story forward and enthuses a quality that is automatically compelling.

Using the vibrancy and scenery of London to enhance the story, Foggin adds another layer of near magic to That Night. Utilizing the famous brightly lit site to backdrop a rather exquisite and delicate love story, the film is stunning in its aesthetics. But really, the true depth of the short centres on the acting. Relative newcomer, Roach is stirring and witty, allowing us to instantly like her character as he does. Corden bounds with this personal and charismatic character. Yet together, the movie sparks with this intense first attraction and their chemistry really pulls you along, keeping the beat moving at a rather lovely pace.

If there ever were a short film to capture the soul of London and coerce a smile, it’d be That Night. Foggin has woven a pleasant and enchanting film here.

That Night will be showing on We Are Colony.  We Are Colony is a new VOD platform for independent film, connecting passionate fans to great filmmakers by creating a ‘special edition’ release, bundling the film with exclusive additional and behind-the-scenes content.  The platform launched in a private invite-only beta in June 2014, and has welcomed users from over 90 countries in its first month.  Readers can request a priority invite by signing up at www.wearecolony.com and using the code “Cinema Chords”. 

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A Short Mission: Avoidance

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Sometimes the responsibility of reality is too much for us to handle. In fact, everyone I know is guilty of zoning out, zooming in, using our expansive technology to escape from the world and indeed, other people. Sometimes we pop blinkers on and pretend that we are different, that the earth is easier and we don’t have to face the little things that gradually build up. Christ, no wonder we all have issues. Erica Rotberg is a short film maker who has created such a delectable and provoking short that it will sit in your mind and maybe get you talking to the person in the same room as you.

Avoidance is a colourful and simple few stories about the titular problem we are all facing. Told in vignettes, the short film focuses on different people and their lives. A woman in an office building ignores a call from her mother. A man in the basement of his parents shirks his responsibilities. A woman lives in a rose tinted world. And a couple live without communication.

The simplicity and 2D effects mixed with the intense pallet that hones personality to each character. The message is strong because it doesn’t over complicate or preach, it merely highlights the issues we are all facing whether it is literally sinking further away from your family, or letting time with your loved ones get cluttered with work. Rotberg has a distinct voice with her artistry, the quirky and unique characters representing a part of us that we have all given into. There is no definitive end but the questions they propose, the tableau’s presented clearly that you’ll be questioning

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A Short Mission: Man

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Being a human is great, isn’t it? We are one of the fewer species that has the ability to use words, effectively communicating through language. We are on the top of the food chain, living in advance technological states, adorned by clothing and we even keep animals as willing pets. We drive cars, eat meat and we divulge ourselves in the most ghastly states of hate and war that no other species really does. But hey, at least we’re top of the food chain and King of Earth’s throne. Well, be prepared to have all that you love about being human topple down as you watch Steve Cutts three minute animated short Man.

It’s crude design and drawings prelude the truth about humanities struggle with nature. It’s less of a struggle and more of a blatant tirade against every living thing. As we follow our character, the slaughter is immense and though gleeful mayhem, man topples, uses and abuses every single creature in his path, all with a glorious “welcome” sign on his t-shirt.

Man is a message we’ve all heard before but Cutts’ cartoon antics make it a bit more paramount about exactly how much we have ruined. It’s so effective that you instantly want to become a vegan after watching animated fluffy things dismayed in the wake of man’s megalomania. With a little douse of humour, especially predicting our definitive end, the quick beating short leaves you a little bit more thoughtful than before.

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Short Film

A Short Mission: Modern Love

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Trying to flit a larger and more endearing story into the space of two minutes is one of most difficulty. After all, there is a lot of exposition to cover and 120 seconds may not be the right running time. However, inspired by a series  in the New York Times called Modern Love, animator Freddy Arenas adapts columnist Tim McEwon’s story of the same name. Modern Love is mini documentary, with abstract yet earnest animation, centres on the 22 year age gap between Tim and his fiancé Sarah. Though for a large part of the relationship it was a musing rather than a contention point, when Tim suffers a heartache, the poignant breach in years must be addressed.

Narrated by Tim, this pleasantly evoking short film that Arenas uses to strip back to the symbolic core with his enchanting animation. Drenched in simple colours, Arenas tackles the relationship with abstract imagery that matches, oddly enough, the pivotal moments of Tim’s stories. Rather than telling it literally through the shapes and figures, Arenas adds another level of uniqueness by giving the film a fresh beat to it in with its blues and whites.

The true heart of the story is McEwon’s tale. Though plainly riffing off his tale, the pulsating love that is rocked and solidified by a terrible moment is emotional and endearing. It allows you to explore the moment where trivialities and scrutinises of love become a large figurehead. Sweet and heart-warming, it takes away from unimportant problems such as age difference and allows you to focus on the relationship at hand. Sublime animation.

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A Short Mission: Drool

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There come few shorts that make you go “woah” on first watch and instantly go back and replay it. Done In is one of the finer examples of this. But Jeremiah Kipp’s Drool has me salivating and since watch it, I have perused it’s delectable details and stunning imagery so much, I am afraid I might wear it out. Prepare to have your horror likes subverted in a simplistic form and for just over four minutes of screen time to seer into your noggin, leaving you with a haunting taste on your tongue.

Drool has seemingly no plot, a man and a woman rive around in a clear unknown substance that could be of the titular variety. It is literally that but the passionate and visceral body work in this sort is alluring. Kipp presents an undeniably horrific tale that bends conception into a film of anamorphosis and has deeper themes to it. Birth, femininity and in extremity, sexual violence; Kipp admirably portrays them with this passionate flair of nightmarish contortions . As the characters ooze in the thick gel of drool, they shatter with emotions: pain and pleasure, sex and anguish, it all comes away in this highly disturbing away.

It feels so Cronenberg with how it alludes to darker themes without over complicating the plot. The simplicity in the art is much more outlandish than expected but it is fearsome and wonderful.

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A Short Mission: Star Drunk

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Have you ever seen a performance so bad that you wonder, “were they all drunk whilst they filmed this?” Or a script so horrible that the writers must have all been downing tequila shots and whilst blurry eyed, slurred out a premise and a pretty heinous story developed? Well, wonder no more, as the team behind Star Drunk because that is exactly what they have done with their brand new short. Inspired by the countless amount of art that was created whilst intoxicated, Laughing Squid took it one further. Experimenting, they downed shots and promised whatever they wrote, they’d create into a short film…then act it drunk. The result is pretty funny.

Depending on whether or not you like to watch pissed people cohort when you are plain sober, you may find Star Drunk slightly annoying. But if you are up for a titter at a couple of prats trying to create something stellar, then this is for you. Revolving around the usual premise of an evil overlord trying to destroy a small crew of heroes, the only problem, apart from the explosions, is that the crew is hyped up on vodka shots.

The experiment is kind of innovative and it is hilarious to watch. The fools gallivant around the spaceship and slur their way through the script and it is a riot to watch. This is possible going to be a summer short that once watched, you’ll be quoting every time you see someone new. It’s simplistic but it is still pretty comical.

“There is no day in space, IDIOT” just a personal favourite.

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