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The Hockey Sweater (1980)

The Hockey Sweater

★ ★ 1/2 out of 5

Directed by Sheldon Cohen

Imdb Link

A young boy is mortified when he receives a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey instead of a Montrael Canadians jersey.

This is the second short film which my English teacher showed me, saying that it’s one of the quintessential Canadian films, and as a Canadian, I need to watch it. Yes, I’m Canadian, but I’m really not a hockey fan, which is maybe why I didn’t find much to relate to in The Hockey Sweater. The film is basically a small anecdote about a child needing a new jersey, and getting the jersey for a different team instead of the one he wanted. There isn’t much more to it than that. It’s just a not very amusing anecdote, animated in an interesting way. At the end of the short, I found myself asking “well, what was the point?” Usually, if you tell a story like this, there’s some moral ending, a message to it. There isn’t a message in The Hockey Sweater, it just ends. I kept thinking there would be more, and there would be a pay off somewhere, but there wasn’t. It’s just a little slice of French Canadian life. Like I said though, it is really well animated. I love the look of the film, crudely illustrated. The film is adapted from a children’s book, and you can tell. The animation style looks like it was ripped right off the page of a Robert Munsch book or really any other children’s book with illustrations. I’m not sure I could watch two hours of that, but I loved it for ten minutes.

The Lunch Date (1990)

The Lunch Date

★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2 out of 5

Directed by Adam Davidson

Imdb Link

A lady misses her train, and goes to the food court to get a salad to pass the time till the next train departs.

My English teacher decided to show me his two favorite short films, this and The Hockey Sweater, which I’ll talk about soon. For now, this is all about The Lunch Date, which I didn’t love, but I really did like it, and I think it’s a great example of how to do character development in a short film right. The film centers around a neurotic old lady who seems to have a fear of the homeless. She misses her train, gets a salad, goes to get a fork and returns to find that a homeless man is eating her salad. It’s a hilarious premise, and one that allows for a really solid amount of character development. Look at the old lady polishing her fork as she goes back to her table, telling us that she’s probably a very neurotic person, who is definitely a germaphobe, and watch her reaction to the homeless man eating her salad. Shocked, and hateful at first, but she gradually accepts it. My English teacher thinks that the old lady doesn’t change over the course of The Lunch Date, but I have to disagree. I think that we start to see the beginning of a character arc, and her acceptance of other people. In the end of The Lunch Date though, I didn’t find myself absorbed into the film. I think that it’s a fantastic short film, and one that should be studied when looking at short films, but it’s not one that I would say I got enough enjoyment out of to say that it’s among my favorites.

Rejected (2000)

Rejected

★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2 out of 5

Directed by Don Hertzfeldt

Imdb Link

4th Watch

A selection of commercials made by animator Don Hertzfeldt, that were all rejected because of their creators failing grip on sanity.

This was an old favorite YouTube video of eight year old me. My friend and I watched it pretty much every time we were together. I haven’t seen it for at least six years now, but I was just waiting after school, and I saw on Reddit that this was actually an Oscar nominated short film. So I watched it again to get a fresh opinion. I don’t even know what to say about Rejected. This is the most absolutely ridiculous, batshit crazy, surreal, and hilarious short I’ve seen in a long time. I didn’t expect to still find it as funny as I did, the humor might not be for everyone, but it’s definitely not just something lame I found funny when I was eight years old. The opening, “my spoon is too big” and “I am a banana” is one of the most inexplicably funny scenes I’ve ever seen. I don’t know why a lot of this is funny, but it is. One of the most surreal, and fun animated shorts out there.

Doodlebug (1997)

Doodlebug

★ ★ ★ 1/2 out of 5

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Starring Jeremy Theobald as The Man

Imdb Link

3rd Watch

In an apartment, a man chases around a bug, trying to swat it with a shoe.

It’s kind of hard to review Christopher Nolan’s debut short film. It’s like reviewing a YouTube video made by Freddie Wong, or some other special effects wiz. Doodlebug is not a short film with much of a story, or character development, or really anything other than some camera trickery, a cool concept, and neat special effects. It does what it does very well, and it’s as good as it could be, but that doesn’t make it brilliant. You would never look at a video by a YouTuber like Final Cut King for example and say that it’s good cinema, it could be a good video, but there’s a difference in quality there. Doodlebug is like that. If the same short were made in color a decade later, it would have become a viral hit on YouTube without a doubt. Good for what it is, but all it is is a gimmick.

A Single Body (2014)

A Single Body

★ ★ ★ 1/2 out of 5

Directed by Sotiris Dounoukos

Imdb Link

Two friends working at an abattoir plan to open their own butcher shop, until one of them is injured.

This was the winner of the whole TIFF short films program, and was it really that good? Not in my opinion. I mean it was a decent short film that was well put together and everything, but it didn’t tell much of a story. It definitely wanted to tell a story, but it wanted to be meditative and slow moving, while also wanting to stay twenty minutes long. The result is a film that feels like a small segment of something bigger, as though instead of shooting a film on it’s own, they were shooting a little part of a feature. The performances were good, the cinematography was excellent, but the director’s style made it feel like it wanted so badly to be something bigger.

Catalogue (2014)

Catalogue

1/2 out of 5

Directed by Dana Berman Duff

Imdb Link

Some artsy filmed pages of a catalogue.

UGHHHH. Okay, I thought Against Landscape was a bad short, but at least it actually did something. Catalogue is literally just a bunch of still pages of store catalogues filmed with a 16mm camera. Like all of a sudden filming pictures of furniture on a page is art if you film on 16mm? What? No. I can’t even fathom how stupid Catalogue is, or why someone would sit down and say “hey, you know what’s a great idea for a film? we film a bunch of pictures of furniture, make it black and white, and put no music in whatsoever.” and then they filmed it over a day, edited it for an hour, and submitted it to TIFF for shits and giggles. This is bullshit.

The Barnhouse (2014)

The Barnhouse

★ ★ ★ ★ out of 5

Directed by Caroline Mailloux

Imdb Link

In a small Quebec town, a child has gone missing, police are looking everywhere, but the key to solving the disappearance may be in a little kid’s barnhouse.

When I first read the synopsis of The Barnhouse, I thought “huh, that sounds interesting, I wonder where they’ll go with that. It could be really good” and really good it was. The Barnhouse is an awesome psychological thriller that raises some neat questions about how far we’d go to protect a loved one. The film is packed with twists from start to finish, which makes it an absolute pleasure to be a part of. I don’t want to spoil any of it, but damn it is crazy. The cinematography is great as well, giving the film the perfect look from start to finish. The director Caroline Mailloux shows a whole lot of promise with this short film, I can’t wait to see future projects from her. One thing I would say that The Barnhouse could work on is it’s character development, the characters don’t feel very well thought out, but that may be because of the short runtime. Still, a very good short film that I definitely recommend watching.

Newborns (2014)

Newborns

★ ★ out of 5

Directed by Megha Ramaswamy

Imdb Link

Survivors of acid violence go about their daily lives in India.

I have no clue what I just watched. This was described as a short documentary about how women in India who have been attacked and given acid burns live. It really isn’t that, but thinking about it, it’s really hard to describe what Newborns is. This is a strange ass movie, it’s basically 10 minutes of acid burn victims staring into the camera while a little girl does a voice over talking about elephants and tigers. It’s one of those films that’s not about the story it tells, but about the themes lying deep underneath it. Unfortunately it was so subtle that I didn’t really get those themes, and it wasn’t good enough to compel me to watch it again to figure it all out. I can’t recommend seeking this one out, it was just strange when it could have been something really deep and heartbreaking.

Everything & Everything & Everything (2014)

Everything & Everything & Everything

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ out of 5

Directed by Alberto Roldán

Starring Shane Carruth as Morgan

Imdb Link

A man’s boring life becomes exciting when a strange blue pyramid that produces doorknobs appears in his apartment.

Now this was a freaking masterpiece. I don’t even know how it did it, but somehow a short film about doorknob selling businesses and magical blue pyramids is now one of my favorite movies of the year. This short film is beautiful in every way, and brimming with clever ideas and subtle themes. For one, the camerawork is spectacular, it looks better than most movies that have come out recently because of it’s really natural, yet magical feel. The lighting design stays simple, and it relies more on the camera angles than anything. The storyline is incredibly simple, but it’s so original that you know the filmmaker must have been the first person to think of the idea. It’s a metaphor for capitalism using magic and doorknobs. It works incredibly well. Then of course it’s seamlessly edited and really well directed. But my favorite part of the film has to be (yes I know it’s not directed by Shane Carruth simply starring him, but…) the way that, like Primer and Upstream ColorEverything X3 is so layered with themes and ideas that you could watch it over and over and keep finding new things. This will hopefully at least get a best live action short film nod at the Oscars, if not a win, it deserves it. What an incredible film.

Last Night (2014)

Last Night

★ ★ 1/2 out of 5

Directed by Arlen Konopaki

Imdb Link

A man confronts his roommate about a very serious matter.

This short film was ridiculous, that’s really all I can say. Not much happens, it’s mainly just talking heads, and it feels more like a YouTube video that someone put a black and white filter on to make it “art” and put it in TIFF. That said, Last Night was hilarious and downright shocking. If there was a line, the makers of this film crossed it, which is perfect for the short itself, but left me kind of thinking “holy shit, did I really just watch that?” And I have a high tolerance for gross out humor. Really, all together Last Night is funny, that’s all, it may think it’s a piece of art judging by it’s place at TIFF instead of on someone’s YouTube channel, but really, it is just funny. Not much more.