Amazon.ca Widgets

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sean Kelly

Canadian Film Fest 2014: Shorts in Review

cffbastards

Tonight is the beginning of the 2014 edition of the Canadian Film Fest, which will be taking place from tonight through Saturday at the Royal Cinema.  I am planning on attending five of the festival’s screenings, including both the opening and closing film, and I will be posting reviews for those as weekend goes on.  In the meantime, enjoy these capsule reviews of the 14 short films playing at the festival, all of which I screened ahead of time.  Six of the shorts will play prior to the feature films, while the remaining eight will be part of the Homegrown Shorts showcase on Saturday afternoon.

Pre-Feature Shorts

Bastards – World Premiere
This short by Jeremy Lalonde (Sex After Kids) stars Julian Richings as an aging rock star, who invites all his illegitimate children to come live with him, with the promise to make one of them his heir.  These children come in all different shapes and sizes, ranging from a British rock star wannabe to an non-English speaking Indian to a 12 year old girl, who’s probably the most mature of the bunch.  The short is in the style of a faux reality show, with many talking head segments appearing over the course of the plot.  I thought that Bastards was a very enjoyable short to watch and it leaves me wanting to see more from this band of misfits.
 9 | REALLY LIKED IT

The Golden Ticket – Toronto Premiere
On a day that sees Brad get dumped by his girlfriend, evicted from his apartment, and fired from his job, a stranger on a bench offers a golden ticket that will allow Brad to do anything he wanted for 24 hours.  This short is a bit of wish fulfilment comedy, showing what might a person do, if they didn’t have to worry about the consequences.  This was a funny and enjoyable short, with a great punch line at the end.
8 | LIKED IT

My Old Man – World Premiere
After hitting rock bottom, a woman has an encounter with a ranting and raving old man.  While this short had a decent enough plot, I have to admit that I was constantly distracted by the somewhat hideous old age make-up worn by actor Robert Nolan in the short.  Since I was able to recognize the actor from his voice, it was a bit off-putting and took me out of the plot.  Other than that, this short is OK.
7 | FAIR 

The Last Supper – Toronto Premiere
Two couples are having dinner with each other and begin a heated debate about the end of the world.  This is a hard film to talk too much about without giving everything away, but I will say that this was an enjoyable little short about a dinner debate that quickly gets out of hand.  Also, it features a cute little dog.
8 | LIKED IT

Kate – Canadian Premiere (UPDATED 3/23)
A former couple reconnect one day, though one is still hung up on a former love.  Kate is a short that is easily comparable to the Before series of films, since it involves a couple reminiscing about a one night stand they had some time previously.  There isn’t really all that much this this sort, but I thought that it was OK enough.
7 | FAIR 

Peter and Jane Know Some of the Same People – World Premiere
A man and woman, who met each other on an online dating site, have a date and find out their profiles weren’t actually telling the truth.  Peter and Jane Know Some of the Same People is trying to be a somewhat comedic cautionary tale about online dating, with both Peter and Jane making multiple outrageous revelations about each other.  I don’t know if it was the actor or just the character, but I really did not like Peter at all, who is always making these weird facial expressions.  Jane definitely stands out more, with her character having the most interesting revelations.  Ultimately both characters weren’t likeable enough to really get me into the short, despite a somewhat interesting ending.
6 | WATCHABLE

Homegrown Shorts

The Prince – World Premiere
An arrogant son keeps visiting his dying father hoping to get the location of a hidden stash of money.  One day he finally gets an answer.  With a brisk 5 minute length, The Prince is all about the punch line, which admittedly was quite enjoyable.
8 | LIKED IT

Ephemeral – World Premiere
A somewhat bossy corporate woman has an encounter with a homeless man that changes her life forever.  While Ephemeral does give a useful message about how one should live their life, I also thought that it was a bit heavy-handed in its presentation.  Also, this is a short that didn’t really need to be 10 minutes long, even though there was some decent cinematography with the time lapsed city shots at the start.
7 | FAIR 

Snapshots – Toronto Premiere
A documentary featuring over 5000 still photographs taken over the course of 25 years, from 1982 to 2007.  This highly experimental short is all about the editing, which gives a rhythm to what is essentially an 11 minute slideshow with narration.  I liked how some of the sequential photographs created simple animations and, towards the end, there was a sequence showing the subject Brian Stockton aging over time. Even though a short film made entire out of photographs sounds boring on paper, I ended up quite liking how Snapshots was presented.
8 | LIKED IT

Margaret Finds Her Mojo – Toronto Premiere
A woman named Margaret arrives at a company for an interview “as a formality” for a job she was offered.  However, when she enters the interview room, she finds out there is competition.  Margaret Finds Here Mojo is an absolutely hilarious satire of the highly competitive world of job seekers.  It was quite fun seeing how quickly this “interview” gets out of hand, with even the eager to please Margaret having enough at one point.  I highly enjoyed this short.
 9 | REALLY LIKED IT

De Puta Madre: A Love Story – Canadian Premiere
This short features a conversation between a woman and her Latin kidnapper.  The short takes a bit of a feminist stance, with the woman standing up for herself and trying to convince her kidnapper that what he’s doing is not love.  Overall, I thought that De Puta Madre was an OK enough short.
7 | FAIR 

Uncommon Enemies – Toronto Premiere
In World War II France, an American soldier and a Nazi are forced to reluctantly team up against a sexy French vampire.  Despite a relatively simple plot, Uncommon Enemies was a fun film to watch, with some decent gory special effects.  This is sure to be enjoyed by all genre film fans.
8 | LIKED IT

Survival Guide – World Premiere
With a child abductor on the prowl, a Girl Guide named Fleur is forced to fend for herself when her aunt is late picking her up.  For the majority of its running time, I thought that Survival Guide was quite decent, with Fleur encountering a number creepy people in her attempts to walk home.  However, I was left confused with the sudden way the short ended, which ended up slightly lowering my overall opinion.
7 | FAIR 

Gumshoes – World Premiere
A middle aged detective named John Fracas demonstrates his people-reading skills to a woman sitting with him at a bar.  I wasn’t really sure what type of message Gumshoes was trying to convey, other than perhaps John Fracas is a guy that comes looking for trouble.  It’s pretty predictable how the film turns out and it didn’t really leave that much of an impression on me.
6 | WATCHABLE

That wraps up my overview of short films at the Canadian Film Fest. Stayed tuned over the course of the weekend for additional coverage of the festival.

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).