DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: SUNDANCE REPORT #15: More Sundance Shorts

Saturday 24 January 2009

SUNDANCE REPORT #15: More Sundance Shorts

Abbie Cancelled (2009) dir. Jessica Burnstein, Robbie Norris
Live Action Short


Amir and Amanda are in the car on their way to a dinner party when they get a call from their friend Abbie that she has cancelled at the last minute. The party continues as a foursome, a night of squirm-inducing awkwardness. It all makes for a surprising astute situational comedy. Norris and Burnstein capture the common early midlife crisis of late twenty-something middle class yuppies. Amanda's career envy of Karen makes for some fine awkward comedy as well as an engaging emotional revelation from Karen. Meanwhile Grayson and Amir, bond like bros while sniffing gasoline together in the basement. The mix of absurd and situational realism make ‘Abbie Cancelled’ a fine example of the short film medium.

Copper on the Chopping Block (2009) dir. Kai Orion
Live Action Short


A man lives alone in the woods. He calls his girlfriend who doesn’t answer, he kills his cat with some poison in the sauna, he chops some wood, he’s drinks beer, he chops some wood again, he lights firecrackers. Twelve minutes later these banal actions lead up to a violent action. Despite giving away little information, “Copper on the Chopping” is an ultimately predictable effort. Predictable in the sense that it falls into the common trappings for short films – audience unfriendly naval gazing.

Little Canyon (2009) dir. Olivia Silver
Live Action Short


A newly separated father and his three kids drive away from their home to a new life in Los Angeles. From the point of view of the youngest daughter we feel the pain of the disillusionment of a family. Writer/Director Silver shows competence with storytelling and a reasonable assured visual style. She pulls some natural and believable performances from her young actors, especially young Tessa Allen. Unfortunately it’s a subject that doesn’t fit the short film format. There’s just not enough time to find the truth with the characters. Silver likely has a feature film version of this story in her head, and the pacing of her short reflects this. While it’s a decent calling card, it makes for a mostly dreary short film.

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