Fun on YouTube, wandering about the online video planet. My interest has been searching out new sci-fi short films, and there have been some great discoveries. the very best is Stop, reviewed below. Most are not much more than seven or eight minutes long and so the plotting has to be very good indeed, if there is a story. In some, there’s not much story, but great visuals. Above: from The Gift, reviewed below.
Nora —Go see it. It’s visually terrific and there’s the tiniest plot but tiny or not, it works. It works on contrasts — prim Nora the robot cleaning ‘droid and this creature on the deserted planet. The creature is male, dwarvish, bronze-colored, sensual, limber. So primness meets sexy and slightly crazy.
Seed — intriguing. So much unsaid. Again visually it is splendid.
Love like the aliens —this knocks me out. There should be a name for the visual style, or its stylishness, perhaps near-comicbook clarity, a graphic style, but very rich, drifting, dreamy. Something underwater about it. Very fast action in sharp cuts, then slow, slow, drifting. If you want to be thrown out of a flaming spaceship and rescued by an angel along with great music, this is one for you. Go.
As in pic above The Gift— is just about the top of the list for me, it is gripping. From Russia with weirdness. Straightforward shooting, no tricks, no stylishness. A robotic butler is somehow just there — the rest of the cityscape is in no way futuristic. A cold and gritty Moscow. It has a strong plot — a revenge plot. A guy who seems to be a survivor of the Gulag arrives at the wealthy apartment of somebody from the privileged nomenklatura and hands him a gift. Needs to be seen several times.
Project Shell— is okay. So much depends on the actors in the non-graphic shorts. The very worst is when some actress or voice animation actress has a stupid Valley Girl accent, it is beyond bad. “Alpha you are now approaching Planet Bugglefutz, prepare retro rockets” or some such, said in that flattened, baby cute voice.
Anyway Shell is okay, sort of predictable, but interesting.
Closer — is good but you have to stick with it. Starts out with lots of CGI interstellar warfare, lumpy space battleships (lumpy is now very fashionable) blasting away at each other, but it deals with heroism, when one commander, a very attractive blonde woman lands on earth and dragoons a young couple making out in a park into the war, on the side of all that is right and good. The idea of being ‘A hero’ hits the young man and he likes it and so is. Loved it.
At the very top is Stop— is so strange and so good it is almost beyond description. I actually got physical chills crawling up my back watching this. It was shot with an old Bell&Howell film camera. No kidding. There is only one actor, and only one CGI effect and I am not even sure it is CGI or just some old ancient trick of superimposition of a ghost image. Just shows you what it means when something is just plain ‘well done’. Shot in an ordinary common landscape of some park in the east (US).
The one actor is somebody who films in the park and suddenly realizes he has lost 7 or 8 minutes of his life. It’s gone. He desperately tries to find out why, how. See it!!!
Some are fairly plotless but there is always, always something of a plot even in a wordless, personless short like Albiogenesis.
And sometimes the enthusiasm does indeed save the film, as in Losses, which is not sci-fi but just a short action film, I think 11 minutes. It uses a plot cliché but the action is wonderful and non-stop and the good guy wins. And you know they had an enormously good time doing it. Cost them about $500. And they are very good at angles, close-ups, lighting, tight cutting in the action scenes.
If you want to laugh for several minutes at a time, after a frustrating or gloomy day, go to the Pixar short, ‘Lifted’. It is sort of kind of more or less sci-fi.
More later as soon as I get my picture management program figured out…