I love YouTube’s Screening Room as it gives the world access to gobs of fabulous short live-action and animated films which we’d otherwise be very unlikely to see. Here”s a few I’ve caught lately along with some films.
Last Time in Clerkenwell
Alex Budovskiy directed this delightful short animation of a bird’s conquest of a dream world inspired by London. The stark black and white animation is just gorgeous and the music by Real Tuesday Weld is as catchy a tune as I’ve heard in a long, long time. It is a perfect match to the on-screen visuals. My rating a wonderful 10 out of 10 for the sheer its inventiveness and wonderful music.
Directed by Wing-Yee Wu and set during the siege of Sarajevo, 4960 tells the tale of a young man (in America) and a young women (still in Sarajevo) as they try to communicate across both the war zone and the Atlantic Ocean. The film is starkly set and directed, and conveys a real sense of the distance – and the emotional vacuum – that separates the two characters. In the end, we come to understand the basic human need to connect that relationships bring, even when the normal rhythm of life is blown asunder. My rating 7 out of 10.
Canadian Chris Landreth created this great Academy Award for Best Animated Short (2005) film that reflects on the life of filmmaker Ryan Larkin who produced some of the most
influential animations of his generation. Sadly, years later, a victim of drug abuse and alcoholism Larkin was destitute and living on the streets of Toronto. Landreth’s film is strangely animated and combines interview of Larkin with macabre computer generated characters. It is a sight to behold and you can understand why this won the Oscar. My rating 8 out of 10.
The Brave One
The usually ever-wonderful Jodie Foster has had a couple duds of late and no one larger than this dreadful pro-vigilante movie, The Brave One. Directed by Neil Jordan it has poor Erica Bain (Foster) struggling to get over the brutal attack in Central Park that took the life of her fiance. The radio host soon finds herself purchasing an illegal gun and – predictably – becomes a new form of justice on the New York streets as she stumbles into various criminal situations. Toss in a wonky link whereby Bain starts to get close to the detective assigned to track down the vigilante and it all becomes just too much. In true Hollywood style, Bain manages to hunt down and murder the folks who killed her fiance and the dear old police detective Mercer hushes it all up. Awful stuff. I’m loath to give films that support Americans taking justice into their own hands any rating but since Mary Steenburgen had a small role in the film as Foster’s radio show boss, and was fabulous as ever, I give this miserable film 2 out of 10.
Gone Baby Gone
Based on the Dennis Lehane novel, this Ben Affleck directed film was a challenge to watch. I actually started it four times before being able to get through it, which is usually not a very good sign. Casey Affleck stars, and talks funny with a Bostonian accent, as private eye Patrick Kenzie hired to assist the Boston Police search for the missing girl of a drug addicted single mother. When the little girl shows up (apparently) dead, Kenize and his wife Angie (Michelle Monaghan) wander about all sad and miserable wishing they could have done more. Despite being told by Boston Police captain Doyle (Morgan Freeman) and his number one detective Remy (Ed Harris) not to worry, the pair continue to dig for ‘the truth’. And is often the case, searching for the ‘truth’ can lead to things you’d rather not learn. The premise is good and the story great, and, in the hands of a more skilled director, may have even been a real winner. Sadly, even two of Hollywood’s best actors can’t pull the mess together and so you’re left struggling to finish a film that is flat from the outset. My rating 5 out of 10.
Let it Come Down: the Life of Paul Bowles
Long before director Jennifer Baichwal made herself famous filming Manufactured Landscapes, she visited the mysterious expat American musician and author, Paul Bowles, as he lay dying on his bed in Morocco, his home of more than 50 years and a central aspect of many of his great works, including Let it Come Down and The Sheltering Sky. Both great reads, I may add. We see a man who talks but truly says nothing about his life, his marriage to the playwright Jane Bowles, his association with the ‘beat’ generation writers or his homosexual life. We see an enigmatic man as unfathomable and as intriguing as the sands of the Sahara itself. For the tiny glimpse Baichwal gives us of this pillar of American literature my rating 7 out of 10.
Joby Harold wrote and directed this intriguing little movie that uses a a rarely known medical condition as the starting point for neat thriller. The condition is anesthetic awareness whereby a patient though anaesthetised remains ‘awake’ and paralysed during an operation. A great starting point I thought but poorly executed thanks to the machinations of two B-rate actors, the vapid Hayden Christensen and poor little Jessica Alba. The story concerns uber rich kid with a wonky heart, Clay Beresford (Christensen), his wife Sam (Alba) and a nasty plot to make some money. The creaky acting and ridiculously contrived plot twists make the film fun to watch and it’s worth a rental if you’re keen for a laugh one night. My rating for the brilliant starting point of it all 5 out of 10.