VIFF 2014: We Both Go Down Together (Canadian Shorts Program)
Ahoy, a shorts program! I love short stories so the nature of these films and their tidbits on life interest me. This is also the area of the festival where you can find some of the weirder oddball stuff. This collection is made of shorts from around Canada, with the theme of “we both go down together.”
Burnt Grass (Ray Wong, 2014, 12 mins)
Reason To See It: It’s an odd little tale about a couple (Alex Paxton-Beesley and Christopher Jacot) who discover a spot in their lawn that duplicates items. It speaks to obsession, and having too much of a good thing. It has it’s own creepy moments as well.
Reason To Skip It: It falls apart near the end, becoming far too predictable. A totally meh conclusion that sullies the journey there.
Withering Heights (Liz Van Allen Cairns, 2014, 10 mins)
Reason To Skip It: The pacing of the tale of a rapidly shrinking woman (Gabrielle Rose) doesn’t allow us to establish a connection to her plight. Some of the visuals are eye-catching, but not enough to keep us watching.
Howard & Jean (Heather Young, 2014, 7 mins)
Reason To See It: It rides the line between documentary and fiction. We wonder what exactly the relationship between a dog and its owner is. It shows us the sad truth in lonely people’s lives.
Hole (Martin Edralin, 2014, 15 mins)
Reason To See It: Depicts the struggle to be normal for a disabled man (Ken Harrower) missing intimacy. We often forget that disabled persons need love and sex too. It also depicts Billy as a real person and not a pitiable object. It may be uncomfortable at moments, but it’s worth the watch.
Life’s A Bitch (Francois Jaros, 2013, 6 mins, In French with English Subtitles)
Reason To See It: It pretty much hilariously describes modern love as is. Told in very short clips we witness one man’s (Guillaume Lambert) run in’s with love. The punchline capped it all off.
Hard Card (Lucas Hrubizna, 2014, 15 mins)
Reason To See It: A senior (Charmaine Wilson) with a week to live needs money fast. Her solution: rig the local bingo in her favour. A tasty black comedy with all the caricature you can handle. It makes you ask the question, how far would you be willing to go to save your hide? Stuffed ferrets be damned.
The Acting Teacher (Aaron Craven, 2014, 10 mins)
Reason To Skip It: It tries to be funny; key word is “tries”. An acting coach (director/writer Aaron Craven) tries to get two clueless acting students through a scene from A Streetcar Called Desire. I suppose if you are an actor you might get a kick out of this. I can definitely imagine something like the “animal exercise” being in one of my university acting classes. However this short is only there for the punchline – the rest of the runtime is solely filler.
Dead Hearts (Stephen W. Martin, 2014, 17 mins)
Reason To See It: Young Milton Murberry (Valin Shinyei) the mortician knows that he will soon die, but not before he wins the heart of his crush Lola Littleton (Dalila Bela), the blind kung-fu master. Expect all of the quirky, plus werewolves and taxidermy. It’s not trite or obnoxious though. Rather it is bittersweet and hopeful. A cute gothic love story to enjoy. Who needs a heart anyways?
Not a bad selection of films this time. There was not anything too horrendous either. The worst was only mediocre. Best of the bunch was Life’s A Bitch – because it really and truly is.