STARS IN SHORTS – The Review
If you go see STARS IN SHORTS expecting to see Colin Firth in casual cargos from Lands End or Julia Styles wearing skin-tight Daisy Dukes, you’ll be disappointed. They’re not that kind of shorts, but they are those kinds of stars, so if you go expecting to see great acting and fine filmmaking, you’ll be rewarded. On the heels of the annual OSCAR NOMINATED SHORT FILMS program, ShortsHD presents STARS IN SHORTS, a collection of short films featuring some of the world’s biggest actors. Many times you only see these films at festivals so I highly recommend the opportunity to see these presented together on the big screen. There is no consistent thread to the seven films other than they star famous actors including some Oscar winners.
THE PROCESSION (12 Minutes – Directed by Robert Festinger) – Lily Tomlin and Jesse Tyler Ferguson are mother and son driving in a procession for a funeral of someone they don’t know. They stop at a stop light and lead most of the cars to a cemetery. But is it the right one. Tomlin and Ferguson display a solid chemistry in their bickering and the always-welcome Lucy Punch shows up briefly as Tomlin’s daughter. This is a well-written and laugh-out-loud funny short.
STEVE (16 Minutes – Directed by Rupert Friend) focuses on Colin Firth’s increasingly deranged downstairs neighbor who begins manically stalking a bickering couple played by Keira Knightley and Tom Mison. Great confrontational acting by these two pros in this increasingly dark short that I didn’t want to end.
SEXTING (8 Minutes- Directed by Neil Labute) This B&W short is mostly a one-take performance from Julia Stiles as a young woman fed up with her relationship with a married man. She’s decided to confront his wife at an outdoor diner with a stream of soul-bearing awkward truths. This leads to a punchline I saw coming but the actress is fantastic, looking straight into the camera and pouring out emotions while reciting a typically angry and dark Neil Labute monologue. Of the shorts I saw in this program, I thought this was the best.
NOT YOUR TIME (25 Minutes – Directed by Jay Kamen) Jason Alexander is Sid Rosenthal, an aspiring Hollywood screenwriter at the end of his rope in this “get even with Hollywood” mini-movie musical satire. We see Sid’s life story beginning as a child about to have a colitis operation, then inspired to a show biz career when his mother (Kathhy Najimny) takes him to Sammy Davis, Jr. in Golden Boy on Broadway, To his music teacher’s delight (Sally Kirkland) his education includes transcribing songs his cat is conducting while walking across his piano. Sid finally finds his calling as a film editor whose job it is to remove expletives from movies prior to their airline bookings. It’s hard to know what general audiences will get out of all the insider humor, but if you’re knowledgeable about what routinely happens to talent in La-La Land, this funny film will ring true.
The other three films in this program I did not get to view but here is how they are described:
PRODIGAL (25 Minutes – Directed by Benjamin Grayson) A father (Kenneth Branagh) seeks redemption by rescuing his paranormally-gifted daughterfrom two organizations hell-bent on acquiring her “special” abilities.
AFTER SCHOOL SPECIAL (10 Minutes – Directed by Neil Labute) A man and a woman have an awkward encounter at an indoor playground in this Neil LaBute penned slice-of-life starring Sarah Paulson and Wes Bentley.
FRIEND REQUEST PENDING (12 Minutes – Directed by Chris Foggin) A short comedy drama about the mature generation dating in our modern social networking world. It’s a tale of love but more importantly life long friendship. The twelve-minute tale tells the story of Mary (Judi Dench) and Linda (Penny Ryder) who spend an afternoon discussing the pleasures, pitfalls and problems with using social networking to try and woo the local choirmaster Trevor (Philip Jackson).
If these three films are nearly as good as the other four, I highly recommend STARS IN SHORTS.
4 of 5 Stars
STARS IN SHORTS opens in St. Louis today at Landmark’s Tivoli Theater