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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Five Friends Tangled Up In Witty "Socks & Cakes" Short Film!

"SOCK & CAKES" (2010)
Genre: Comedy
Length- 12:32
Company:  Kimistra Films

Richard (Jeff Moffitt) is an architect with a cooling marriage to Amanda (Kirsty Meares), whose ex-husband Harry (Timothy J. Cox) scrapes by emotionally in an unfulfilling French Lit teaching position.  David (Ben Prayz), a real estate broker, brings a new girlfriend named Sophie (Alex Vincent).

The common thread among the five friends is that none of them are truly happy, all of them are bored with their lives, and they're all gathering for dinner tonight in Richard and Amanda's apartment.

It's like watching two cars headed for a collision: you just know it's going to end badly as desires run rampant and inhibitions get left with the wine glasses at the dinner table . . .

FRIENDS ON SPEED

"Socks & Cakes" is a comedy -- more properly a dramedy -- written and directed by Antonio Padovan.  It's a witty, sarcastic and unflinching look at how a group of friends will prey on one another to try to capture a glimpse of happiness.  Then, having experienced that glimpse, they become bored with it as fast as they've found it.

There's a little bit of "breaking the fourth wall" as well, and Cox does a good job delivering those lines.  It comes as a bit of a surprise, happening at 4 1/2 minutes into the film, and then it never happens again, so it seems random.

That's my main complaint about "Socks & Cakes": the story elements don't feel as cohesive as they could be, and thematically apart from the conversation in the kitchen kitchen between Harry and Amanda is poignant, but apart from that, not a whole not in the film carries much resonance.  As a result, much of the film just feels like random snapshots of Friends inspired grumblings.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 2.5 / 5.  What's the ultimate point the film's trying to make?  Why does Harry break the fourth wall?  There are a lot of questions which aren't properly answered.  
Directing: 3 / 5.  Padovan provides decent camera movement.  Director of Photography Alessandro Penazzi gets some nice visuals out of some fairly static looking locations (interior apartment shots).
Editing: 3 / 5. The film moves slowly and it feels like that's intentional, but still, where are we going?  "Socks & Cakes" probably could have been tightened up a bit.
Sound/Music: 3 / 5.  The music sounds bored -- perfectly reflects the characters in the movie itself.  The dialogue is audible and the levels are good.
Acting: 4 / 5.  Well done across the board, with particular props due to Meares and Cox, whose dialogue in the kitchen really provided this film with heart.

Final Grade: 3.1 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Socks & Cakes" (scroll to the bottom)!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Philip Goldacre Shines In Realistic Drama Short Film "The Journey of Alfred Small"

"THE JOURNEY OF ALFRED SMALL" (2015)
Genre: Drama
Length- 22:07
Company:  Old Lamp Films

Alfred Small (Philip Goldacre) is a senior citizen living in England.  His entire life revolves around hitching a ride on the city bus to visit his wife (Chrissie White) in the hospital and back home, and making due with what he has while he waits for her to recover.

But today, there's a troubled young woman named Kendal (Tayo Elesin) and her son, Benji (Fabian Walcott) waiting at the bus stop.

Alfred's insular world will never be the same.

BITTER TASTE OF REALITY

Written by Amy Holleworth and director Mike Archer, "The Journey of Alfred Small" is a serious short film set in the real world with characters who behave like real people.  That's no small accomplishment from a writing standpoint, to create a universe that feels genuine and real.

And of special note is Goldacre's performance, which is simply put awesome.  He could, and should, win awards for his portrayal as the apparently taciturn but strong and emotional Alfred Small.  He shows such a range and does so effortlessly.  He is this film.  I can't say enough about his performance.

The only problem is that the film is far too long.  Realism may be largely spaces of down time punctuated by moments of importance, but the world of film does not have that luxury.  Audiences need something to look at and a story to follow.  While Goldacre delivers an incredible performance, there's just not enough going on to carry the film.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 2.5 / 5.  A very realistic portrayal of the real world and Alfred Small is a fascinating character.  Unfortunately, there's a LOT of time spent without much going on throughout the film.  The theme of letting go is not sufficiently developed, so the dialogue lines toward the end of the film come out of nowhere.
Directing: 3 / 5. Natural camera work from Archer and Director of Photography Simon Shen.  Never intrudes.
Editing: 2.5 / 5.  The film's way too long and could've used a lot of cutting.  Otherwise, it looks good from shot to shot.
Sound/Music: 3 / 5. Rob Harris' score is gorgeous, but the sound design is extremely uneven.  Volume levels are all over the place, and scenes transition from one to the next with audible clicks.
Acting: 4 / 5.  Goldacre delivers a performance most actors would die for.  Elesin, Walcott, White and Dinarte Gouvein do OK with what they're given.

Final Grade: 3 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "The Journey of Alfred Small" and follow the creators on Facebook!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Peek Under the Covers of Entertainers In "A Mime Is A Terrible Thing To Waste" Short Film

"A MIME IS A TERRIBLE THING TO WASTE" (2014)
Genre: Suspense / Fantasy
Length- 19:11
Company:  Blackmount Pictures

* While this short film does not contain nudity, there are scenes of a frank sexual nature that are inappropriate for younger viewers.  This film would probably be rated "R" if it were submitted to the MPAA for a film rating.

A mime (Michael Batten) and his puppet (Bhasker Patel) check into a motel for the evening and set about the long process of unwinding before getting some much needed shuteye.  Before they get too far, their room phone rings.

It's someone close to them, with a message regarding a matter of life or death . . .

SOMETHING YOU'VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE

There aren't very many short films that appear in my inbox that feature mimes and puppets and the sorts of hijinx one can only imagine you'd get if you were to mix the two, let alone the sort of movie that treats all of this as a pretty serious endeavor.  While the title of the film's a pun, the film itself is deadly serious.

Essentially, the story revolves around the relationship of the mime and his puppet -- or is it the other way around? -- and a mysterious third character we neither hear or see, and his incredible influence over the two of them.

THE END RESULT

The big question mark that we, as viewers, are tempted with over the course of this film is whether what we are seeing is fantasy or reality.  I tend toward the former, mostly because it's too hard to try to make sense of what's going on if you attempt to explain away what's seen as an emotional disturbance.  It does add an interesting dimension to the film, and provides a little "food for thought" in what might otherwise have been a fairly routine plot.

Thematically, Pia Cook's screenplay attempts to deal with the heavy issue of true love, and it does tease us a little, but the strangeness of the film takes center stage.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, mind you -- you really haven't seen a short film quite like this before, and there's something to be celebrated about that.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 2.5 / 5.  Cook's screenplay has several great lines, an intriguing storyline, but ultimately none of it is put together in a manner that feels as climactic as it wants to be.
Directing: 3 / 5.  Hernan Diaz directed this short.  It looks good and works well.  I particularly enjoyed the slick manipulation of the viewer when switching from the actual puppet to Patel and back.  Also some nice usage of lighting and appealing visuals from director of photography Kirill Proskura.  
Editing: 3 / 5.  The opening feels excessively long for an introductory sequence.  Several scenes drag on a bit longer than they need to.
Sound/Music: 3 / 5.  There were some mishaps with the sound design -- for instance, was the receptionist (Bernie Barrett) pleasuring herself or was she watching porn or was I just completely misreading that?  Volume levels changed or cut out entirely from shot to shot.  The music, composed by Stefano Barzaghi, was suitably creepy.  
Acting: 4 / 5.  Good performances from everyone, particularly from Patel, who delivered his sometimes outlandish lines quite credibly.

Final Grade: 3.1.

While "A Mime is a Terrible Thing to Waste" isn't yet available to watch online, you can visit the creators online right here until it is!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Gritty Drama "Fra Asken" Addresses The Ugly Reality of the Aftermath of Violence

"FRA ASKEN" (2015)
Genre: Drama
Length- 10:30
Company:  True Norse Films

We open on the back of a van in the middle of the woods.  A teenaged girl under attack (Madeline Marsh) screams and cries from somewhere inside the vehicle, but no one hears.

To say any more would spoil the film, but it's a dark and gritty road metaphorical road we travel as the audience of writer/director Kjell Kvanbeck's latest short film.

OUT OF THE FRYING PAN . . . 

"Fra Asken" is a minimalist drama shot with a pseudo-documentary feel.  The story itself unfolds, for the most part, in a very grounded and realistic world in which a victim of violence discovers her world shrinking upon itself.

If I can say anything about the film, it is that mood rules the day.  The ambience of Kvanbeck's film world is overwhelming.  The isolation we feel is choking -- literally, there is one line of dialogue in the entire film (not counting the wordless, anguished screams we hear in the beginning).  The world is a lonely, miserable place to be, where everyone is so wrapped up in doing whatever they are busy doing at the moment that they can't be bothered to offer a helping hand, even to someone who is clearly hurting.

Some of the writing choices toward the end don't make sense -- I can't say too much without giving huge spoilers away, but basically my problem with it is that first of all, I don't understand how a particular crime goes unpunished, for instance, and second of all I don't follow the protagonist's ultimate decision.  Even if it can be explained away, it doesn't make for much of a satisfying conclusion.

Still, "Fra Asken" does make you question the world we're taught to accept as children -- the world that the poor protagonist in this film no doubt was taught about, before she was attacked: a world where people are basically good, and where those who are hurt can be helped, and where those who hurt others are always punished.

The real world, "Fra Asken" seems to be saying, is far more complicated and dark.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 2 / 5.  Some writing choices don't make sense, particularly as the suspense builds.  For instance, why would she not go to the police?  I can't say much more than that without unleashing tons of spoilers.
Directing: 4 / 5.  Kvanbeck's directing style takes on a documentary feel, following handheld as our protagonist travels from location to location.  Per Kvanbeck's cinematography helps create some stirring outdoor shots.
Editing: 4 / 5.  There's a grungy looking aesthetic and grain and grit all over the place, which really brought the film down to Earth a bit.  Some of the cuts shuddered from shot to shot, which added some extra unease.  
Sound/Music: 3.5 / 5.  The music is composed by Kvanbeck, Ed Willet and Ryan Rusch.  There's a lot of static in the dialogue recording, but the volumes levels are fairly stable though.
Acting: 3.5 / 5.  While her performance is somewhat one note, Marsh does well with what she has.  Martin Curry has little onscreen time but does OK with what he has to work with.

Final Grade: 3.4 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Fra Asken" when it comes out, but until then follow its progress to your screen on Facebook!

Friday, September 18, 2015

MUST SEE SHORT FILM "Tea For Two" Brings Tea, Fun & Comedy To Your Table!

"TEA FOR TWO" (2015)
Genre: Comedy / Fantasy
Length- 15:26
Company:  Pork Chop Pictures

Two young people (William Postlethwaite and Abigail Parmenter) walk into a cafe run by the unlikely pair of Jim (John Challis) and Alice (Amanda Barrie), completely oblivious to the fact that there's a whole lot more on the menu today than just a slice of cake and a cup of home brewed tea.

TO WIT

"Tea For Two" is an impressive short comedy film from writer/director Mark Brennan and Pork Chop Pictures, and it's one of those rarities in this business: a short film that is funny, clever and has all its genre elements delivered just as well as any big budget production.

The script takes on some pretty weighty themes in its short running time: we're talking about missed opportunities, wasted years and the ticking down of hearts -- but then, deep thoughts aren't all that surprising in a good comedy.  Often, laughter helps us cope with the things that really bother us, deep down, and "Tea For Two" addresses those thoughts on a mature level.  It's never clever just to be clever, or cute for cuteness' sake.

The production values are also top notch, and the movie looks great.  The only thing that detracts from the visual experience is the natural light from outside the cafe, which created levels of brightness too high for the film and overexposed certain shots.  These moments are few and far between though and hardly affected my enjoyment of the picture.

The conclusion took me a second to grasp entirely, but once I realized what had just happened, it made perfect sense and I loved it.  Quite simply, "Tea For Two" is a huge success: it's funny, it's charming, it's well made and well acted and on top of all of that, it's well written.

"Tea For Two" is our third official Forest City Short Film Review MUST SEE SHORT FILM OF 2015!  While it's currently playing festivals, rest assured that as soon as I receive word that it's live on the Internet, I'll post a link here!

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 4 / 5.  The script is really smart, has a cute story and I loved how the fantastical elements played into it.  On the negative side, the suddenly menacing move our two leads took midway through the film didn't feel authentic.
Directing: 3.5 / 5.  Brennan puts on a competent show.  Nothing's showy -- it's all in service to the story, which I think was the right thing to do for this short film.
Editing: 5 / 5.  Carl Austin did a great job cutting this film together.  The pacing is perfect and the movie feels exactly how long it needs to be.
Sound/Music: 4 / 5.  Roly Witherow's score is fun and reserved.  The sound is professionally recorded.
Acting: 5 / 5.  Challis and Barrie are just quirky enough but not so much as to take away from the gravity of their situation.  Postlethwaite and Parmenter are both likeable in their roles.  James Hamer-Morton plays up the comic nature of his small role.

Final Grade: 4.3 / 5.

Check out the official website for "Tea For Two" and keep up to date on the film's progress through the festival circuit because you DON'T want to miss it!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Disjointed But Nightmarish Imagery in Short Film "A New Born" A Bit Too Cryptic

"A NEW BORN" (2015)
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Length- 10:17
Company:  Rods Pictures & Big Bug Visions Productions

* This film contains female full frontal nudity and would probably be rated "R" if it were submitted to the MPAA for a film rating.

Donna (Gea Martina Landini) is on the run.  She locks herself away in a hotel room, but her attacker pounds on the door and twists the knob to get inside, doing anything he can do to reach her.

The moon rises, and his assault on the door subsides.  Strange lights take his place, piercing the tiny slit between the door and its hinges.

This is just the beginning of what is turning out to be a very, very strange night indeed.

METAMORPHOSIS

"A New Born", an Italian short film directed by Simone A. Tognarelli, has lofty aspirations.  It aims to be a surreal viewing experience  that taps into a sort of nightmarish dreamscape that obeys its own internal logic.  Unfortunately, the experimental angle is taken a bit too far and there is no discernible narrative that makes sense.  A coda is thrown on at the end, but there's no buildup to it so it just feels like a random reveal.

That being said, some of the individual scenes are quite effective.  Take for instance the tense chase sequence at the beginning, or the inspired stop motion sequence under the light of the full moon, which recalled Universal classics like The Wolf Man.

So there are cool shots and neat sequences here, but there's nothing in the story to connect any of it together.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 2 / 5.  The script, written by Tognarelli and Jacopo Aliboni, was too experimental for its own good.  What's with the water hitting the ground below Donna's naked legs?  Is she urinating?  Is she pregnant, and her water breaking?  This shot is a good example of the bigger problems of "A New Born": it's just too cryptic, to the point where no amount of analysis could spell out what's going on.  Then, the finale spells out exactly what it all was supposed to mean, and it all comes off as a tacked on way to explain a bunch of random events.  It's not satisfying.
Directing: 3 / 5.  There were some cool directorial choices here, with a particular favorite being the aforementioned stop motion sequence.
Editing: 2.5 / 5.  The pacing is off-kilter, and perhaps that's intended, but without giving us any story to sink our teeth into, it felt like we were floating in a sea of weirdness.  After four or five minutes of it, the film's momentum started to drag.
Sound/Music: 3 / 5.  The score was extremely intrusive but interesting.  The sound design was layered, but again not much subtlety here.  I felt like the filmmakers were attempting to compensate for the lack of onscreen activity with noise.  
Acting: 3 / 5.  Huge props have got to be given to Landini, whose performance as Donna is pretty fearless.   Michael Segal, as Christo, isn't given a character to play, but a handful of lines to recite.

Final Grade: 2.7 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "A New Born" when it's finished its tour of the festival circuit, and until then follow the creators on Facebook!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Innovative Take on Zombies in Metafictional "Period Piece"

"PERIOD PIECE" (2014)
Genre: Horror / Comedy
Length- 11:50
Company:  I Shot This With My Friends Pictures

* This film contains scenes of graphic horror violence that may be too strong for young viewers.

Renee (Onalee James) and Kurt (Ernesto Griffith) bicker over how their latest film, a romance, should end.  Renee wants an old fashioned finish, where the two leads make up and kiss out their problems to soaring melodramatic music, while Kurt wants something that pursues something a bit more realistic.

But then their filming is interrupted by shooting  of a different kind: it sounds like a warzone just a mile distant, and the film crew is reminded of the terrible truth they live every day and that they are attempting to distract audiences of with their films.

Zombies.

TWISTING THE GENRE

"Period Piece" is an elaborate short film written and directed by James McLellan, and one of the few zombie films that actually stands on its own merits as a unique movie.  Rather than taking direct inspiration from George A. Romero's original Living Dead universe, these zombies are of the sprinting 2004 Dawn of the Dead variety.  But unlike that remake, which was thematically as dead as the zombies in the film, "Period Piece" has something interesting to say as well as being an entertaining bit of action filmmaking.

McLellan shoots "Period Piece" as a film within a film, a metafiction of a sort: his script considers what would happen to the filmmaking industry in the event of a world shattering event such as a zombie apocalypse.  What kind of stories would people in those situations tell?  What would those stories do for them?

Considering how saturated the movie business has become with zombies, it's nice to see that there's life yet for the undead.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 3.5 / 5.  A clever idea, and it's a story that resonates, particularly with storytellers.  That being said, there was never a real sense of danger for the main characters, and never enough zombies to feel like they were much of a threat.  
Directing: 4 / 5.  Good movement for the camera, and an appropriate change of tone from "romance film" to horror action.    
Editing: 4  / 5.  The film was edited by McLellan, Brian Roach, Brad Crawford and Ryan Hanson.  I liked the way that the color correction applied the "cinematic" look for the film within the film, while the real world had a desaturated and gritty appearance.  The pacing was excellent as well.
Sound/Music: 3.5 / 5.  The original music, composed by Steven Webb, is effective and the dialogue and sound is recorded professionally.  I was not as big a fan however of the rock music over the action scene at the end.
Acting: 4 / 5.  Onalee James and Ernesto Griffith are the best thespians on display, and their performances are rock solid.  Jenny Pudavick is completely credible as the lawyer in the romance film, and Jason Wishnowski comes across OK as the cowboy.

Final Grade: 3.8 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Period Piece" and follow the creators on Facebook!

Friday, September 11, 2015

A Window To The Soul: "The Reaper" Short A Chilling Home Invasion & Introspective All In One

"THE REAPER" (2015)
Genre: Home Invasion/ Fantasy
Length- 12:06
Company:  Mordue Pictures

Josh (Jamie Hawes) and his wife Kelly (Julia Leyland) wake up to the awful noises of two men (Nathaniel Francis and Tom Westgate) breaking into their home late one night.  Rather than staying put while his wife calls 9-1-1, Josh chases out the masked men, but in the process takes a knife to the stomach.

He pursues the criminals on foot outside but loses them.  On the way back to the house, as he realizes how badly he's hurt, he encounters a tall woman (Dana Smit) who is not a woman at all -- or more accurately, not just a woman.

This woman is Death, and she's come calling for him.

AN INTERESTING POSITION

"The Reaper" -- now this is an interesting short film coming from writer/director Luke Mordue.  It's basically two movies in one: a slick home invasion thriller for the first half, and then a philosophical human fantasy/drama in the latter half.  The first portion is tense, brutally quiet, dark and moody, with tight camera angles and self centered dialogue.  As the movie goes on, and the thematic concerns begin projecting outward, the shots become wider and wider, and we start to see how insignificant Josh and, by extension, we all really are.

It's not a particularly warm or happy realization, but it's a welcome one.  From a directorial standpoint, this film is incredibly smart.  The visuals from Mordue and Director of Photography Bryan Cook are dead on and conjure some really powerful images.

BALANCING ACT

I have to be careful here because I don't want to spoil anything, but essentially the second half of the film puts forth some really interesting slices of what I'm betting is personal philosophy from Mordue himself, and it's all pretty touching stuff.  But that being said, it's two people talking, and after the intensity of the first half, it was an unexpected way to wrap up the picture.

Even so, the dialogue, and the weight behind the words is so affecting that it's still a satisfying conclusion and I liked the fact that they didn't just do the obvious.  I can't say more than that, but you'll understand after you watch it.

Overall, a really good picture that does its best to marry two disparate parts and comes out pretty darn effective and thoughtful.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 3.5  / 5.  Mordue's script has some really smart dialogue about the illogical, rash, violent nature of humanity, and it's pretty novel to try to marry the talky drama with the home invasion thriller.  But one thing I didn't get was why on Earth would Josh rush the burglars while they were in the kitchen anyway?  They were already leaving the house.  I guess you could chalk that up to the aforementioned "illogical" nature of man . . . I'm undecided on that one.
Directing: 4 / 5.  Just a gorgeous picture.  This could play in any theater around the world and you'd think it was a feature.  Mordue and Cook did a brilliant job.
Editing: 4 / 5.  Very good work, in particular with the home invasion sequence.  It was pretty intense.
Sound/Music: 4 / 5.  Mournful music by Billy Jupp for the most part of the film.  I loved the fact that the music was either nonexistent, or at the very least extremely subdued during the home invasion.  Felt so much more realistic that way.
Acting: 4 / 5.  Extremely good acting across the board, but particularly Hawes and Smit deserve equal credit for making the last half work.  Their conversation, all that dialogue, could've been so unreal but it felt authentic because of the class act work on both sides.  Bravo!

Final Grade: 3.9 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "The Reaper" and follow the creators on Facebook!



Wednesday, September 9, 2015

An Epic Quest For Ginger Unfolds As I Review "The Reason I Shop Online"

"THE REASON I SHOP ONLINE" (2015)
Genre: Comedy
Length- 3:53
Company:  LAITO Media

Honey (Zenna Turner) goes shopping one day at her local grocery store without a care in the world.  She picks up a few items, checks them off her list, and heads up to the front counter, where the distant clerk (Katy Jane) rings her up and gives her a total.

But Honey's missing something.  Doesn't this store carry ginger?

The clerk shakes her head no.

So it's up to Honey -- with the help of her dear cellular friend Siri -- to find ginger to complete her shopping for the day.

Thus begins an epic adventure which Honey shall never forget . . .

WHERE ARE WE GOING?

"The Reason I Shop Online" is a short film written by Alexandra Taylor for the Shortfilm48 film competition.  What that means is that LAITO Media had 48 hours to write, cast, produce and edit together the film to be included in the contest.  The results are what you see in this short.

It never fails to amaze me the kind of quality content people can make in such an insanely short amount of time.  "The Reason I Shop Online" is another example of a film made under such constraints that still manages to be entertaining.

Directed by Rob Lainchbury and Director of Photography Lauren Hatchard, the film looks good.  There's no credit for the editing, but the color grading looks spectacular, especially for the outdoor scenes.  The greens are so vivid and beautiful.

As this is a comedy film, I don't want to say too much because anything I say will spoil the jokes.  I will say that the soundtrack was quite amusing considering Honey's rather mundane goal.

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 3 / 5.  Taylor's script, while amusing, didn't feel like it went anywhere and never made me laugh out loud.
Directing: 3 / 5.  The camera moves were handheld and somewhat uninspired -- you can chalk some of that up to the fact that there wasn't exactly a lot of time for them to storyboard or analyze locations for cool shots.  Lainchbury and company were doing this by the seats of their pants.
Editing: 4 / 5.  The movie looks great and is cut together well.
Sound/Music: 3.5 / 5.  It's a nice epic soundtrack we're treated to, and the dialogue and sound is professionally recorded with level volumes.
Acting: 2.5 / 5.  Turner's acting felt flat for the most part.  Jane's performance was far more natural -- granted, her (second) role also allowed her a lot more room to grow.

Final Grade:  3.2 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "The Reason I Shop Online" and follow the creators on Facebook!

Monday, September 7, 2015

"Parallel" Examines Life, Sci-Fi & What It Means To Love In Smart New Short Film

"PARALLEL" (2015)
Genre: Sci-Fi / Romance
Length- 11:28
Company: Stories By The River

Henry (Paul Kandarian), sick, summons his daughter, Veronica (Erica Derrickson), to his bedside.  She doesn't know what to expect.  But Henry's brought Veronica here for a reason: he has a story to tell.  A story about when he was a young man, fresh out of college, and the Higgs Boson particle was discovered, and theories were put forth about alternate universes -- with new evidence that made all the science fiction sound so much more possible.

And most importantly, about the day that he and his scientist co-workers managed to contact one of these alternate universes, and the beautiful woman he met there -- Anne (Kate Paulsen).

Anne.

And how they fell madly in love.

A SMART TWIST

"Parallel" is a short film written and directed by Mikel J. Wisler, and it is his smart script and the beautiful visuals he conjures up with cinematographer Rajah Samaroo that makes this film sing.  Clocking in a little shy of eleven and a half minutes, it doesn't have a lot of time to develop characters and relationships, which means it does a lot of its painting in extremely broad strokes.  The setting, the color scheme, the somber score all do their part to fill in the blanks.  The results toe the line between truly affecting and melodrama, but it is always enjoyable.

The metaphor of the film's title and theme carries a surprising punch, and there's a real moral to the events that take place on screen.  Wisler and company deliver a thinking person's short film that taps into some pretty primitive areas, including what it means to exist in the field of time, what it means to live, to love and lose and finally to die.

It's serious, it's smart, it's even a bit of a tear jerker.

I highly recommend "Parallel"!  Check it out!

OVERALL SCORES:

Writing: 4 / 5.  There is a depth and intelligence to the story that you don't often see in most short (or longer, for that matter) films.
Directing: 3.5 / 5.  The visuals look great (all about those gorgeous exteriors!), and the camera movement kept me in it.  It's a professional and emotional show.
Editing: 5 / 5.  From the cuts to color grading, there was no way this short could've been edited better.  Trevor C. Duke did an awesome job as editor, with Stephen Webb and Wisler handling coloring duties.
Sound/Music: 3.5 / 5.  Good sound recording throughout.  I liked the score, also composed by Wisler, overall, but it felt maybe a little heavy handed at times.  Still, quite effective.
Acting: 4 / 5. Very good performances by everyone.  Not a lot of dialogue by anyone but Kandarian, granted.  Special notice has to be given to Juan C. Rodriguez, who plays the young version of Henry, for delivering a "Noooo!" moment that didn't seem over the top or cheesy at all.  Well done!

Final Grade: 4 / 5.

Don't forget to check out "Parallel" right now and visit the official Stories By The River website!



Thanks for reading! I'm a screenwriter and script consultant. Most recently, I've worked with LMC Productions and Mad Antz Films in Australia. I helped mold Goodybag Productions' award winning screenplay "The Teacher" and Michael Maguire's feature length script "The Wolfpack", which is still in development.

Check out my blog and let's get in touch!