The series of five shorts Thursday night at Vilas Hall were all from the UK and tended to focus on children. There was a goodly amount of humor as well as some deadly seriousness.Bale
lead off the program. Three boys bicycle out to a large mound of hay bales and enjoy the youthful pursuit of pretending to be in a fort. Their fun is spoiled, however, when a group of joy riding teenagers arrives and decides to pick on one of the boys, Tom, with a battery of torments that includes flicking lit matches at him.
Shot in 35mm, Bales
is gorgeous and the ensemble of young actors does a great job. It's a brief yet poignant portrait of youth in different stages discovering that life gets all-too real very quickly.
Next came Love Does Grow On Trees
. It opens with a humorous disclaimer that the story takes place in a time of innocence – the pre-Internet era of the 1980s. The story revolves around a pubescent boy who finds the photo of a nude woman from a porno magazine caught in the webbing of a football (soccer) net and stumbles upon the Porn Fairy as he goes hunting for more to satiate his budding sexual desires.
Also shot on 35mm, Love Does Grow On Trees
looks really nice. Luke Ward-Wilkinson does a bang-up job as the young lad with his facial expressions of amazement and delight at the sight of naked women. A very funny film that, like highlights an awkwardness of youth.
The laughs continued with Oscar and Jim
. At 28 minutes, it was the longest short of the set. It follows a young couple who are on a holiday in Paris wandering the Pierre Lachaise Cemetery in search of the graves of Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison. The map they have has proven useless and they're lost. The two bicker with one another and trade clever insults as closing time approaches.
This one was less intriguing to me on a technical level because of my bias for film and this was shot on video. Still, it was definitely good for some laughs despite my not having found the couple to be all that interesting.
The penultimate movie of the night was Rule 2
which, in a paltry nine minutes, tries to give some sense of how a British soldier serving in the Middle East changes as he sees more and more of what war has to offer. Scenes of him chatting with his mum and girlfriend via webcam alternate with those of him reciting a monologue to the camera as images are projected onto his face and the screen behind him.
While I liked the style, Rule 2
just didn't gel. Projecting the images on the man's face worked for me in Natural Born Killers
and it worked for me here. But nine minutes is just not enough time to convincingly explore the profound changes that war has on people. The movie's reach exceeds its grasp.
Lastly we saw Edward's Turmoil
. Here we return to youth as a young lad accompanies his grandfather on a day out. The granddad is rather crotchety and prone to use of profanity. Unfortunately, the f-bomb causes the good, Bible-reading boy to have uncontrollable spasms. Things come to a head at a restaurant as the grandfather's attempt at provoking the boy into swearing himself ends with a punch to the face.
A funny glimpse at the eternal struggle between youth and age and a great way to end the night.