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Zack Mosley [Film Festival 12.05.12] comedy



'92 SKYBOX ALONZO MOURNING ROOKIE CARD
Director: Todd Skylar | 2011 | USA | 12 mins
What's it about? Two estranged brothers return home for their father's funeral and resume old squabbles. The main conflict revolves around the ownership of the titular trading card.
What's good? James Pumphrey and Alex Rennie capture a convincing family dynamic as brothers Jim and Dave. The 12 minute runtime is loaded with hilarious moments, including an insane one-take chug-off at the family dinner table that climaxes with a jug of ice water and a gravy boat. There's also a nice emotional payoff at the end.
What's bad? Nothing significant. This is a small story about petty differences, but that's part of what makes it ideal for the short format.
Overall? This is one of the best shorts I saw at WFF2012, a naturalistic comedy with heart.

ASIAN GANGS
Directors: Calum MacLeod, Lewis Bennett | 2012 | Canada | 10 mins
What's it about? Caucasian documentarian Lewis Bennett attempts to get to the bottom of why his grade school principal once claimed that he would end up in an Asian gang if he didn't stop picking fights.
What's good? The quirky concept lends itself to several humorous moments, including a modern day reenactment of the fight.
What's bad? The principal is not interviewed in the film, so his strange prediction remains mostly unexplained. The lack of resolution gives the entire film a strange unfulfilled dimension.
Overall? ASIAN GANGS is an amusing way to spend 10 minutes, but it needs more.


THE BETTER MAN
Director: Titus Heckel | 2011 | Canada | 13 mins
What's it about? A demanding woman attends two dates simultaneously, going back and forth between a cocky jerk at a bar and a milquetoast gentleman at a restaurant in an effort to secure "the better man."
What's good? The concept has potential.
What's bad? Most of it, unfortunately. The film noir influence results in a lot of overcooked banter. At no point in the history of dating have conversations this stilted occurred between human beings. All three of our clichéd leads are patently undateable.
Overall? Writer/director Titus Heckel should focus less on dialogue and more on character, story, and style. Why didn't he shoot this in high contrast black and white?

DEAR SCAVENGERS
Director: Aaron Phelan | 2012 | Canada | 9 mins
What's it about? A curmudgeonly appliance salesman who seems to hate customers meets his match when a pack of tween girls on a summer camp scavenger hunt invade his store.
What's good? Giving me the warm fuzzies in 9 minutes flat is no easy feat. Hrant Aianak is great as Hector, the appliance store owner.
What's bad? The concept is on the slight side. That said, it's a short.
Overall? DEAR SCAVENGERS is not making overly ambitious moves, but it sticks the landing.
Full disclosure: I met, hung out, and hot-tubbed with director Aaron Phelan and producer Andrew Nicholas McCann Smith. They're good dudes.

I'M YOUR MAN
Director: Keren Ben Rafa | 2012 | France | 15 mins
What's it about? A man's penis becomes physically stuck in his ex-girlfriend's vagina, which leads to an awkward confrontation with his current girlfriend.
What's good? I have to hand it to the actors for spending most of the 15 minute runtime unerotically naked. Fans of uncomfortable humor should get a kick out of this one.
What's bad? I thought for a moment that I had blinked and missed a scene with superglue. But no, this particular sticky situation is all natural. As a result, I had a hard time buying into the premise during the screening. I consulted Google after the screening, however, and it turns out that “penis captivus” is a real thing, albeit very rare. Who knew?
Overall? I'M YOUR MAN is funny enough to justify a viewing, despite the logical stumbling block of the premise.

SHANGHAI LOVE MARKET
Director: Craig Rosenthal | 2012 | China | 9 mins
What's it about? An overbearing mother and her pushover husband attempt to arrange a marriage for their shy son. They select potential wives from advertisements at the Shanghai Love Market, a public park that functions as the original 'dating site.'
What's good? There's a clever visual punchline at the end of this movie that satisfies our desire to see the annoying mother get her comeuppance.
What's bad? The technical aspects could be better. The cinematography is very daytime TV, and the score sounds like library music.
Overall? The character dynamics work, and the conclusion of the story feels purposeful and thematically relevant.

SLEEPY STORIES
Director: Andrew Rowe | 2012 | Canada | 12 mins
What's it about? A desperate insomniac turns to Sleepy Stories (a service that sends a representative to your house to talk you to sleep) for relief. Enter Bertram, Sleepy Stories rep. But the insomniac becomes troubled by a signal in the noise, ominous words that burrowed into his consciousness seconds before he passed out.
What's good? As a chronic insomniac who only slept from 7AM to 10AM the night before this screening, I had a personal connection to the subject matter. But the film is also quite funny in its own right. Andrew Vokey is great as the terminally boring Bertram.
What's bad? To mention anything specific would be to nitpick. I suppose the Sleepy Stories business model is untenable. At $90 a night, only the uber-rich could afford it. But there I go picking nits.
Overall? SLEEPY STORIES is a funny and relatable concept, executed well. One of the best shorts at WFF2012.

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