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Film Of The Week: My Year Of Dicks


My Year Of Dicks by Sara Gunnarsdottir ('22) (US) (24m)

My Year Of Dicks has been nominated for the Best Animated Short Oscar. It is an autobiographical - and sometimes comical - tale of a 15-year-old girl trying to lose her virginity in 1990s Houston, but selecting a series of wronguns (the eponymous dicks), while ignoring her doting best friend. Of course, you could argue that Pam is the biggest dick by selecting a series of unsuitable mates.

8

Your Mountain Is Waiting by Hannah Jacobs ('21) (UK) (8m) *

This 2023 BAFTA nominated animation is apparently inspired by Native American spirit animal mythology - or His Dark Materials. It tells the story of a moping city dweller who encounters a fox and dives into a magical world with said canine. I use the word "story" loosely here as, in truth, there is not a lot of story and, as is often the case with BAFTA nominated animations, its value is mostly contained with the animation itself (which is of course superb).

Jet

Don't Feed The Pigeons by Antonin Niclass ('21) (UK) (9m) *

Don't Feed The Pigeons won the Short Animation BAFTA in 2022. It is set in a coach station in the middle of the night, where a varied assortment of travellers wait in silence while the pigeons go about their business. When the pigeons take flight in a display that inspires awe in the humans, there is a momentary connection between them. The animation is, of course, awesome and there are some nice moments but the story is perhaps a little limited - as is often the case with the BAFTA winner.

Jet

Safe by Ian Barling (2021) (USA) (16m)

Will Patton, known to American audiences for Yellowstone, is a father trying to do right by his wayward son after the latter "glasses" someone in a nightclub. There are lots of interesting directorial choices - one could argue that it tries too hard in that respect - and the acting is of course superb. Indeed, it reminded me a little of Manchester By The Sea. It is typical festival fodder, being full of subtlety, unheard dialogue and a somewhat inconclusive ending (though the father-son story is resolved).

8

The Naughty List by Paul Campion (2016) (USA) (9m)

A competition finalist, The Naughty List reminds us that Santa Claus will visit all the world's children on Christmas Eve, even if the child in question - Vince - is an adult mobster hiding out with his partner-in-crime in a secluded cabin. The problem is that Vince's partner does not believe in Santa Claus and, fearing the stranger could be a hitman, is tempted to put a slug in him. For his part, Santa Claus is no saint, but how will this unusual situation end, and will the rest of the world's children get their presents tonight?

Small Deaths

The Bloody Olive

The Bloody Olive by Vincent Bal (1996) (Belgium) (10m)

The Bloody Olive is a slick, funny spoof from Belgium (they must really love Santa there), where the comedy deepens as things go from crazy to crazier and then up a notch. Don't try to follow the details of the ever-changing plot too closely - just sit back and enjoy one stupid twist after another! Bal went on to make the succesful TV animated series, Kirka & Bob. The Bloody Olive has English subtitles.


Pommel by Pari Zarcilla (2018) (UK) (20m)

Pommel tells the story of two British-Asian gymnast brothers and draws on the filmmaker's own experiences of growing up in an Asian household in the UK. With an overbearing and disapproving father, the elder brother begins to take out his frustrations on his younger brother. The powerful performances of the two boys (brothers in real life) is perhaps the impressive aspect of this short drama, which was nominated for a BIFA.

Foxed!

The Pitch by John Hardwick (2015) (UK) (9m)

By the British film and TV director John Hardwick, who has been a judge in the FILMSshort competition, you sense that the comedy short The Pitch came from bitter experience. It tells the story of a screenwriter, Alan (Richard Glover), who is meeting with a self-satisfied film producer - with a track record in B movies - to pitch him his new script. However, when he finally gets to pitch his idea, he reveals a concept that is something a little bit different - and the producer appears to be in mortal danger.

Creature Comforts

Mama by Andy Muschietti15 Certificate(2008) (Spain) (5m)

Mama is fairly light on plot and heavy on trope (taking much of its sensibilities from the excellent but prevalent South Korean horror movies of the time), but the filmmaking (especially lighting and camera-work) is pretty brilliant. Largely shot in one take, it follows two sisters who awake one morning to discover that their mother is back. However, their mother is not a source of comfort for them. Muschietti went on to make the accomplished (Stephen King) It remakes.

Mama

Daddy's Girl by Lena Hudson (2022) (USA) (11m)

Matria won many awards on the short film festival circuit, including the Grand Jury Prize at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. Made in Galicia, Matria tells the story of the middle-aged and humorless Ramona as she struggles through a depressing daily routine of non-stop work, which includes working in a mussel-canning factory and buying her granddaughter's birthday present. Can anything make her smile? It is very much a slice-of-life piece, with minimal story, but it is very real with a great lead performance.


The Guilt by David Victori (2011) (Spain) (13m)

A recent stay in an Italian hotel reminded me of The Guilt (La Culpa), an interesting and engaging film from Spain, which itself reminds me of The Stairway by Alex Torterotot (for obvious reasons if you watch both). It won the 2012 Your Film Festival and it's easy to see why. It begins with the murder of a man's pregnant girlfriend and follows his quest for revenge. During this quest he learns that murder will leave you in an inescapable spiral of guilt...

The Guilt

Speed Dating by Isaac Feder (2007) (USA) (8m)

Speed Dating is a brilliant romantic comedy about Greg, who has recently broken up with his girlfriend, trying out speed dating. He is confronted with a series of comically incompatible women until he meets one woman who is different from the rest and keen to have an honest conversation with him. Is this the girl for which Greg is waiting? With a great script and wonderful acting, short films don't come much better than Speed Dating.


David by Zach Woods (2020) (USA) (11m)

David was in competition at the Cannes Film Festival, no doubt helped by the presence of Will Ferrell. Switching genres a quarter of the way through, what starts off as an earnest drama quickly descends into black comedy when an attention-seeking son interrupts his father's workplace. The always likeable Ferrell plays the psychiatrist trying to help a suicidal patient, David, for a considerable hourly fee when his leotard-clad son, also David, bursts in.

Sing

Mister Hollow

Mister Hollow by Gudiño & Marcone ('08) (Canada) (6m) *

Most releases over the last week annoyed me in some way, so I returned to one of my all time favourites. Co-directed by Gudiño and Marcone with the writing credit attached to Gudino, Canada brings us the best in animation with this deceptively simple short horror flick. It is apparently based upon a real-life photograph from the 1930s, while its title references The Facts In The Case of M. Valdemar, a short story by the grandfather of horror, Egdar Allen Poe.





Films marked * contain no dialogue. Search the entire website below.

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