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Reviews
Review Library

Provided by FutureMovies

With contributors in London, the Midlands and Scotland, Future Movies is the largest independent movie review site in the UK according to Google, attracting over a million page views per month. Affording exposure to cult, low and no budget filmmaking alongside blockbuster fare, the site also features competitions, news and interviews with actors, directors and industry insiders.

Reviews
>February: The CinemaExperimental, Drama
6 June 2012
Reviewer: Chris Evans

This gentle, but evocative film is infused with many themes and emotions, most notably melancholia and love, as two friends watch an old B/W film in a darkened cinema. After a while, one of them begins to reminisce about their childhood together, while the other initially appears bored and ready to leave. But then the friends become entangled in a seductive battle for the affections of the pianist playing music to accompany the film. There are few words spoken in this film, as it is far more preoccupied by the power of non-verbal communication, representing unrequited love, times lost and the beauty and hardship of friendship.
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>Devil's RedemptionDrama
6 June 2012
Reviewer: Chris Evans

This is not comfortable viewing, but definitely worth watching. Peter D. Marsay’s tension-filled short sees a recently released paedophile, Dave Tench track down his victim for redemption, only to discover a stark and harrowing consequence of his crime. Darren Matthews does an excellent job of portraying a tortured soul at the point of desperation and the cold coloured imagery and haunting music add to this powerful drama. A film that will leave you in stunned silence with chills running along your spine.
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>Adefila - I've Been Doing This For YearsMusic, Animation, Youth
6 June 2012
Reviewer: Chris Evans

‘Simple but effective’ is the perfect way to describe this 2D animation by Martin Smith. Set in Ancient Egypt and Rome, the film sees a simply drawn caricature of hip hop artist, Adefila reciting rhymes in front of the pharaoh and then a Roman emperor about his struggles to make it as a singer. It is impossible not to nod your head while listening to Adefila’s deeply charged and determination-fuelled lyrics, and the sketched imagery is similar to that of a 1980s computer game, which makes it even more fun to watch. Adefila is a voice that needs to be heard and Smith is a director to watch.
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>Double Espresso ep4: Ice Cream TitsComedy
6 June 2012
Reviewer: Chris Evans

The entire Double Espresso series is great, but this is a particularly stand-out episode. For those who haven’t watched it yet, this is an episode of another of MiShorts webTV series, this time involving two friends, Vincenzo (Manuel Bermudez) and Emilio (Michael Arturo), talking mostly about the former’s hang-ups in life. Imagine a Seinfeld set up, but with the two lead male characters from the film Sideways, and you get the idea. In ‘Ice Cream Tits’, Emilio invites his friend out for dinner to patch up some problems in their friendship, but things go wrong when dessert arrives. Vincenzo is appalled by what he’s been given and refuses to eat it…until the sexy waitress arrives. There are some great lines in this film, particularly the ‘accidental’ sexual puns. A must-see for fans of disgruntled, quirky humour.
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>Ask Jenna Leigh: Quantum VaginaComedy
6 June 2012
Reviewer: Chris Evans

The ‘Ask Jenna Leigh’ webTV series has proved hugely popular and this episode has so far topped the lot as the most viewed film on our Dailymotion channel with over 80,000 views. Porn star Leigh’s sharp, satirical play on sexual themes is often both clever and amusing, none more so than in Quantum Vagina where she responds to a viewer’s question about physics with her own peculiar thoughts on the universe.

But this is no science lesson and Jenna Leigh, stretched semi-naked on a sun bed, quickly changes tack to crush Marco’s (the viewer) libido by implying he will never see the inside of a vagina. As a consolation, she offers him a squashy ‘titty’ toy. The nerdy boy versus sexy girl scenario has been a comedy staple in TV and film for many years, which gives this film an air of familiarity, but that’s no bad thing. Enhanced by the clever use of animated symbols to underline the film’s message, you’re sure to enjoy this witty slice of ‘adult’ entertainment.
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>Three Card AmericanoDocumentary, Comedy
5 March 2012
Reviewer: Paul Gallagher

A short, sharp, potent blast of justified anger, this documentary is not subtle, but it does what it sets out to: explaining very clearly why the Occupy movement is a necessary response to the callous attitudes of the richest people in America and, indeed, the world. The film places raw footage from Occupy demonstrations beside very well-chosen snippets of the privileged few spewing their greedy rhetoric, then strings them together via concise scripted scenes. Pointed dialogue calls out the deceptive nature of the American Dream while an insistent soundtrack pulses in the background. Part of MiShorts’ excellent Double Espresso web series.
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>Lonely Lucky DeadComedy
5 March 2012
Reviewer: Paul Gallagher

This is a very black comedy, but it’s told with such a sharp sense of humour and visual wit that you can’t help loving it, despite its black heart. Our unnamed female protagonist is hit with various life tragedies in the film’s opening moments – her cat runs away, her dad dies, her boyfriend cheats on her in spectacularly embarrassing fashion – so she decides to kill herself, but that proves more difficult than she expects. The light tone is made possible by the fact that it’s essentially a silent film, underscored by incongruously bouncy music. And it’s got a proper twist at the end. Highly recommended.
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>Level 2Science Fiction
5 March 2012
Reviewer: Paul Gallagher

If you want an example of good filmmaking on a no/low budget, you need look no further than this simple but effective one-man sci-fi thriller. The story involves a virtual reality concept familiar to anyone who’s seen The Matrix, but writer/director/actor/producer/composer/tea-boy Will Brown’s film is more about the mood, and he gets a lot out of his sparse locations with a static camera and some effectively atmospheric music. Brown is a much better director than he is an actor, and his man-on-a-mission plot could have done with some more thought, but he deserves credit for achieving so much with so little.
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>Man's Best FriendDrama
5 March 2012
Reviewer: Paul Gallagher

A man is out walking his dog when the dog runs off, seemingly in pursuit of something. Following the dog into what seems to be an old abandoned mansion, the man discovers something entirely unexpected. This is the kind of concise concept that’s perfect for a short film, and Gareth Crook is a director with just the right lightness of touch to make it work. The insertion of monochrome dog’s-eye view shots adds to the fun tone, while an ever-present synth hum suggests something more sinister. The end is ridiculous, but guaranteed to raise a bewildered smile.
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>Last TrainDrama
5 March 2012
Reviewer: Paul Gallagher

At the heart of this well-crafted, atmospheric film is a situation that anyone who regularly uses public transport will recognise. It’s a train station at midnight; a guy and his girlfriend are hoping to catch the last train home after being at a party. They’ve clearly had some kind of falling out, words between them are terse and few. Then four rowdy lads enter the station, all attitude and hoodies, keeping to themselves but immediately adding another layer of tension to the already tightly-strung atmosphere. When one of them asks the guy for the time, there is a sense that the lightly-held peace between all these characters depends not only on what he says in reply, but every detail of how he says it.

Writer/director David Schofield creates this scenario perfectly, using Douglas Walshe’s precise, crisp photography to capture the subtle shifts in tension on characters faces, and using only diegetic sound to keep the viewer right in the middle of the moment. We know that this event must come to some kind of climax, and when it does it’s more cryptic than cathartic; arguably an underwhelming conclusion, but it doesn’t detract from the power of what’s gone before.
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>HeyAnimation
14 November 2011
Reviewer: Jay Richardson

Beautifully marrying music and 3D animation, this is the richly detailed yet fluid vision of composer, writer and director Guy Ben Shetrit. Set in a chaotic fantasy world, a brattish young girl embarks upon a series of adventures involving a giant toad and a succession of fairground attractions (and plenty more besides), the film unfolds with organic smoothness, the editing precisely aligned to the music, the pace shifting and the locations morphing seamlessly with the melody. Notwithstanding its bold style and production values worthy of a major children’s animation, a dark sensibility pervades the story, with the girl cleaving a sardine in half at one point, then smearing its blood on her face as lipstick.
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>Easy HoursDrama
14 November 2011
Reviewer: Jay Richardson

From its stunning opening shot in which a young man kicks a can towards the camera, his eyes turning to admire a girl in a billboard poster, director George Ravenscroft’s collaboration with animator Reece Millidge evokes an atmosphere of unease and fantastical possibility. Under the perplexed gaze of a convenience store owner, the protagonist’s motivation and inexplicable behaviour is skilfully restricted with tight, enigmatic framing until the unexpected denouement. Harsh fluorescent lighting, an eerily suspenseful score and the conflict between the composure of the young man and the agitation of the shopkeeper reinforce the tension.
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>King Of BComedy
14 November 2011
Reviewer: Jay Richardson

Kevin Schmitz is a wannabe actor suffering from a grandiose delusional disorder, whereby he imagines himself to be his idol Kurt Russell, “the best B-movie actor of all time”. Broadening out from his incarceration in a psychiatric ward through a series of snappily edited flashbacks, writer and director Lamont Jack Pearley’s comedy is principally shot in stark b/w and amusingly exploits the grey area between method acting and identifying too-closely with a subject. Yannis Pappas is hilariously intense as the would-be star, with the film tautly conveying his explosive personality in a manner reminiscent of a trailer for a full-length feature.
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>London RiotsDocumentary
14 November 2011
Reviewer: Jay Richardson

In this high-impact response to the rioting in English cities in August 2011, Joshua Thompson and Liam White’s footage is captured on a wide variety of cameras and mobile devices, especially smartphones. Transporting viewers straight into the violence, the film’s main focus is community reaction to the aftermath with the motives of the rioters and looters only speculated upon. Despite this absence of perspective, the film possesses a raw, visceral power that extends far beyond its topicality.
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>Brief EncounterExperimental
2 September 2011
Reviewer: Michelle Thomas

Inspired by the eponymous Noel Coward screen classic, this is the story of a love affair blighted by cigarettes. As it features many close-ups of cigarettes and mouths and lots of beautifully lit smoke, it is perhaps not a film to watch with someone who is trying to give up. There is no dialogue, but great sound design contributes to the atmosphere largely dominated by a mysterious semi-naked woman wreathed in smoke. The film concludes with the hyper-romantic strains of Rachmaninoff and a clip from Brief Encounter playing ‘Thank you for coming back to me.’
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>Beach MemoirsDocumentary
2 September 2011
Reviewer: Michelle Thomas

Gentle, but revealing documentary based around a series of short interviews with (mostly) elderly English people, reminiscing happily about their beach holidays. It is a fascinating snap-shot of the recent past, when working class families holidayed in the UK (now back in fashion, for environmental and financial reasons, as the ‘staycation’) at resorts like Brighton, Blackpool and Bournemouth. A neat piece of social history in these days of low-cost airlines, the talking heads share their recollections, including the cricket match ruined by a seagull. Unashamedly nostalgic, with a definite vintage appeal, this is a charming picture of the British on holiday.
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>3 Seconds My ArseComedy
2 September 2011
Reviewer: Michelle Thomas

In search of an aquatic pet, a down-trodden housewife gazes longingly at a beautiful koi carp before her skinflint husband directs her attention to a tank full of 30p goldfish. She is still delighted with her new pet, though, and while her selfish husband gambles their money away, lavishes all her attention on this new fishy friend, even digging behind the sofa for spare change to buy it a plant. Mysteriously, the fish is able to communicate with the woman and observing that all is not well in her marriage, decides to help. This well-acted and beautifully observed film is both clever and funny, and features perhaps the cinema’s first hero goldfish.
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>Brian & CathyAnimation
2 September 2011
Reviewer: Michelle Thomas

This cute lego animation reveals the anatomy of a marriage. When Brian meets Cathy its love at first sight, with courtship, marriage and children swiftly following. But when empty-nest syndrome strikes and Cathy’s love fades, Brian attempts to win her back with a series of well meaning DIY disasters, including a helper robot with killer instincts! The animation is basic, but curiously effective and affecting, none the less, and when combined with the deadpan voiceover and lo-fi approach, the result is a charming and very funny film.
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>Six Minutes Of FreedomYouth, Drama
2 September 2011
Reviewer: Michelle Thomas

Deftly shot by Keith Mackin, this award-winning film is the story of Chris, an aspiring young boxer who is desperate to follow in the footsteps of his father. Chris’ dad is a bit of a hero to him, but not to his mother, who has raised Chris on her own after he abandoned them years earlier.

Now happily remarried to Paul, who has two difficult children of his own, she struggles to keep the family together. Chris is a seething mass of testosterone, struggling to deal with feelings of abandonment, plus his jealousy of his step-father’s close relationship with son, James. Egged on by his stepsister Nicky, Chris mocks James at every opportunity, but behind his behaviour there is vulnerability and much pain.

This is a beautifully made short, featuring fine performances from all the cast. I was particularly impressed by Nico Mirallegro, who could have delivered a simple Kevin-the-Teenager performance, but instead manages to subtly convey Chris’s loneliness and misery. It also features some beautiful cinematography and is very well written. At the end, I felt as if there was room for a follow up, possibly even a sequel, and the team behind this excellent film are well worth watching.
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>Restore FairnessDocumentary
1 July 2011
Reviewer: Chris Evans

This documentary exposes the dark depths of the US immigration service, post 9/11. Through interesting interviews with senior immigration government officials and judges, we learn about a fundamentally unfair legal system that has been put in place to deal with immigrants. The central story is of an emotional Caribbean woman taking on the legal system after her sister was placed in an detention centre due to a minor misdemeanor earlier in life, and then died in custody because she was deprived of necessary medicine. Other stories tell of beatings in detention centres and policemen bursting into legal immigrants homes. This is a fascinating and important film, undermined slightly by failing to give sufficient voice to the other side.
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>His'storyDrama, Experimental
1 July 2011
Reviewer: Chris Evans

A dark and depressing tale of the futility of gang violence in London told in eloquent and insightful language by a stabbing victim coming to grips with the reality of his predicament. One such line is “Whatever we do in life lays a seed in our deepest consciousness and one day that seed will grow.” The film is shot in a gritty style mixing black and white and boosted colour to powerful effect, and there is enough emotional resonance to lift it above the superficial preaching of most rap videos. The final scenes of housing estate kids playing with guns illustrates well the dangers of what the narrator refers to as ‘natural law’.
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>BenepaScience Fiction, Drama
1 July 2011
Reviewer: Chris Evans

Daniel Hammersley’s slick psychological thriller is not breaking new ground with its concept of a 1984-style world in which an all-seeing organisation controls our every discussions and movements, but there are some relevant truths and plenty of twists and turns to keep you intrigued.

Set in Britain of the near future, it explores the possible implications of the recent financial crisis by painting a picture of a society run by a major corporation that has bought out the government. The focus is on a small number of young men and women who fight the system by channeling people away to the freedom of ‘Benepa’. Relations within this group of freedom fighters are good and there is an obvious sense of togetherness, but as things start to go wrong, suspicions increase and trusted bonds are broken.

The film takes a while to get going, but persevere and you’ll be rewarded with some clever moments of interplay between the characters where all is not what it seems. The pay-off at the end is unexpected and sufficiently dark, neatly setting up this TV pilot for a thrilling series.
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>Apocalypse Diaries [Trans 1]Science Fiction
5 May 2011
Reviewer: Mike Barnard

This is a new weekly US Sci-Fi WebTV series premiering May 4th on MiShorts that looks set to become a favourite among fans of suspense-driven survival flicks. WebTV series are finding a significant online audience, with YouTube putting US$100 million into the creation of original content and the new studio-backed Mortal Kombat series, Legacy, a major success story. The format clearly works and is a smart way to distribute a quality short form content for minimal cost to an audience that appreciates it most.

Shot in web-cam style, The Apocalypse Diaries tells the story of LA couple, Jen and Evan as they become embroiled in increasingly strange events after a major scientific test goes wrong. The genuinely creepy feel of this drama is heightened by sudden reality-shifts and high-pitched noises and Jen talking to their web camera recalls The Blair Witch Project, as it ups the sense of impending doom. Having Jen talk directly to the viewer is also an effective way of creating a bond with viewers and watching the series on a laptop, smartphone or tablet echoes the feeling of communicating directly with a friend: you feel genuinely concerned for her safety.

The first two episodes aired this week lay a good foundation for the drama that will unfold. A second series is already in production and there is plenty of potential for this, given the peculiar nature of the events. Keep tracking this MiShorts series as it could become the web-based equivalent of Lost!

For episode 2 and trailers, select The Apocalypse Diaries in channel list.
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>The DebtComedy
5 May 2011
Reviewer: Mike Barnard

Excellent Russian comedy following three felons trying to get a bagged-up body to an unknown destination played out with grunts, groans, smiles and grimaces with only intermittent dialogue. Cruising along a country road in a 4x4, all is going smoothly for the trio until their vehicle breaks down and they are forced to hitch a ride with an eccentric ‘dude’, squeezed into the back seat of his small car, while a pet dog sits up front. This is an inventive and playful throwback to slapstick comedy with a surreal twist that keeps it sharp right up to the end.
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>Unresolved IssuesAnimation, Experimental
5 May 2011
Reviewer: Mike Barnard

This intense experimental movie from director, Graham Bowers is awash with colour and animation as pastel shades see human-like figures come in and out of view while abstract geometric shapes play on screen and a series of blotches and lines play out a ever-changing landscape. The soundtrack to all this movement is a minimal, but vibrant mix of piano, strings and percussion that suck the viewer into a world of constant movement.

The film’s second half sees all manner of wind instruments taking on living, breathing shapes as an ever-present countdown takes over. It’s a trippy journey that possesses a relentless, restless feel – the intention of Bowers who states that the short demonstrates there is no end to an issue, just perpetual flux. A vibrant, hypnotic joy.
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>ShortcutDrama
5 May 2011
Reviewer: Mike Barnard

Success and money have a destructive effect on Vinny, a British-born Asian, and his immigrant girlfriend, Neelam in this hard-hitting drama. Told with poignant flashbacks that set up a dramatic change in tone towards the film’s drastic conclusion, we feel a degree sympathy for Vinny’s mistakes and the truth he consistently fails to see. Neelam’s doomed attempts to rescue him up from an increasingly self-destructive stupor are highly effective and director, Armaan Kirmani demonstrates a sound grasp of the nuances of relationship-breakdown.
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>La Víspera Del Olvido (The Eve Of Oblivion)Science Fiction, Documentary
5 May 2011
Reviewer: Mike Barnard

The lost souls of society are represented in this futuristic sci-fi ‘documentary’ about a lonely android wandering the streets of the small South American town of Ibarra. It uses the simple technique of combining talking heads recounting how they spotted the mechanical man in their neighbourhood, along with rumours of where he might have come from, with brief shots of the robot. The plight of this mysterious artificial being evokes a diasporic sense of existence - people can only speculate as to why he is there or what he wants - even his name, Manuel, isn\'t certain, originating from a whispered mention to a concerned passer-by, then repeated to others.

The Ecuadorian setting gives this excellent film a suitably bleak look as director, Miguel Verdugo suggests that technology will eventually alienate us from society. Perhaps the machine is a reflection of the dehumanising effect that communicating via computers is having on us all? In just three minutes ‘La Víspera Del Olvido’ offers a thoughtful and open-ended reflection on human nature and how it feels to exist on the outskirts of society.
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>3 DegreesComedy
28 February 2011
Reviewer: Paul Gallagher

Split-screen visuals are somewhat overused these days, probably due to the huge success of 24, but it can still be an effective technique when used for justifiable ends. Filmmakers Tim Hunt and Christopher Perkins split their screen into three for this story of a dumped girlfriend, and they come up with some entertaining results in the process. Sophie’s (Page Hunter) evening plays in one box, while her ex-boyfriend and the girl he is preparing to meet for a date are in the other two. Sophie is our narrating guide, and the fun comes as the filmmakers reveal that her perspective is perhaps not as all-seeing as she thought. A word of warning, though: anyone averse to grammatical errors should look away at the film’s conclusion, as the on-screen text features a clunker of unforgivable proportions!
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>Time LootersAnimation, Youth
28 February 2011
Reviewer: Paul Gallagher

Ed Hartwell is a silly man. The deranged imagination that brought us Bus Kong is set firmly to ‘bonkers’ for this bargain-basement animation. In terms of quality, Hartwell’s scattershot ‘the more groan-inducing the better’ approach to jokes hits more often than it misses, and even though 12 minutes is perhaps a bit too long for this sort of thing, Time Looters is consistently good fun. The story, such as it is, involves a crazy inventor (is there any other kind?) who creates a time machine and travels, with his clueless assistant, back to ‘olden times’ in order to locate lost pirate treasure. Of course, things don’t quite go to plan, and the scene is set for much silliness, played out to a hilarious Casio soundtrack, in a 2D puppet animation style that makes South Park look sophisticated.
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>SomewhereDrama
28 February 2011
Reviewer: Paul Gallagher

Beginning with a series of shots locating the action around familiar London landmarks, this mysterious film plays out in ways that become increasingly less familiar: finally revealing that what we have been watching is not in fact our reality at all. Writer/director Ben Thomas creates an intriguing first few minutes, as nameless characters in these disparate locations are given a signal and begin to move towards an unspecified meeting. Some overripe acting knocks some of the tension out of the scenario at times, but the final reveal, suggesting that what we have seen is just a small part of a much larger world, is very effective.
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>Man Of The MatchDocumentary
6 January 2011
Reviewer: Jay Richardson

Arguably the UK’s most famous football fan, John Anthony Portsmouth Football Club Westwood (his real name) will be familiar to most followers of the beautiful game. Yet beyond the distinctive stovepipe hat, tattoos and an unquenchable passion for his beloved ‘Pompey’, Westwood proves a far more interesting character than his fleeting appearances on matchday cameras suggest. In Josh Thompson’s compelling documentary, Westwood frankly admits that football fervour led to the failure of his marriage - scarcely a revelation when we see his domestic shrine of Portsmouth FC memorabilia. We also discover that he is also an antiquarian bookseller and surprisingly philosophical about his relationship with the club, even if he can’t fully articulate it. Although Westwood’s personality is clearly more complex and controversial than there’s scope to explore here, this intriguing film nevertheless steers clear of hagiography.
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>Money TroubleDrama
6 January 2011
Reviewer: Jay Richardson

Two truisms inform this film: nothing is certain but death and taxes, and comedians ought to write about what they know. Real life stand-up Simon Bligh plays Dave Gill, a jobbing comic down on his luck, split from his girlfriend and dodging the bailiffs. Checking in on an elderly neighbour, he finds the man long dead and hatches a plan to fix his own problems with a sneaky bit of life-swapping. In Mathew Sunderland’s engaging comedy-drama, Gill’s onstage persona reflects wryly on money and meeting his ex-partner’s father for the first time, while obliquely commenting on the bizarre anxieties of his off-stage life.
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>9 SamuraiExperimental, Music
6 January 2011
Reviewer: Jay Richardson

Award-winning director, Jasmin Jowdry’s greyscale video for this brooding, futustic Audio Addiction track strikingly visualises the preoccupations of UK dubstep pioneer Kode9, aka Steve Goodman. The music consists mostly of Fumio Hayasaka’s Seven Samurai Suite from Akira Kurosawa’s classic movie and multi-repetition of a spoken word sample from Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry: “A stone will be thrown at the state and a stone will be thrown at the churches”. Together, they capture the eccentric reggae legend at his lucid and ominous best.

The film opens with a goggled, dehumanised lab technician tinkering with his scientific instruments while toy soldiers are scattered over a newspaper headline proclaiming ‘Panic Over Contagious Audiovirus’. He is cutting an LP from Goodman’s Hyperdub label with a menacing-looking buzz-saw, heavy machinery labouring with industrial repetitiveness in the background, as regular collaborator, The Spaceape, lugubriously intones his lyrics. Ultimately, people are shown dancing to the record with its serrated saw teeth, their minds blown in splatters of inky fluid, echoing the fate of the caged guinea-pigs before them. For all its menace and hefty bass, there’s a stark visual beauty to this landmark dubstep record, enhanced by the work of director of photography, Tobia Stempi.
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>To Shoot A RurfAnimation
2 November 2010
Reviewer: Michelle Thomas

An impressive noirish animation depicting the effects of long term drinking. If that sounds like some sort of Government Health Warning, its not; with black humour, original style and fantastic sound design, its miles from Drugs Are Bad, Mkay style messages. Set mainly in a gloomy backroom bar and the protagonist’s dingy flat, this is an extremely accomplished film, deftly creating a sinister atmosphere with its clever use of lighting and colour. A film for anyone who has ever regretted that last drink.
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>FoldedDrama
1 November 2010
Reviewer: Michelle Thomas

People have affairs for many reasons, but it’s widely accepted that eyes start to wander when routine and domesticity take hold. But in this dialogue-free tale of marital infidelity, which is the wife and which the mistress? The camera gives little away as it lovingly details a couple’s claustrophobic domesticity, lingering on the piles of freshly washed towels and boiling kettles of their mundane morning routine. Identical towel sets and matching love notes suggest our hero certainly likes a certain type as the excellent camerawork and direction gradually reveal the tragedy that this affair has become as predictable as the marriage.
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>French For ForeignersDocumentary
1 November 2010
Reviewer: Michelle Thomas

This powerful films deals with the tricky subject of religious freedom as it explores the place of religious symbols in a modern secular state, framing the debate through the eyes of two female Islamic students in the same French class. One – I guess you could call her a moderate Moslem – believes in assimilation; the other, however, wears her hijab with pride. Their fellow students find themselves in the awkward position of defending her right to wear it even though they believe it to be exclusive and wrong. Thought provoking and timely.
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>Zantrox and StockbrokerComedy
1 November 2010
Reviewer: Michelle Thomas

The Stockbroker is doing what stockbrokers do one day when a giant robot crashes through his New York office window. Unsurprisingly, he’s shocked, but then realises that this is Zantrox, his favourite childhood toy. Zantrox wants his grown-up master to renew their friendship and resume fighting crime together, but when he refuses (too busy being a stockbroker), the toy’s serious anger management issues emerge. In fear of his life, Stockbroker reluctantly agrees to join Zantrox as a crime-fighter, but only during his lunch hour.

The film’s concept, a darker subversive version of the Toy Story series, is quite clever. Presented mainly as a series of stills, it has a delightfully low-budget feel but is difficult to review as a film as it looks more like an animated comic-strip, both in performance and direction. The occasional flashbacks, filmed on Super 8, bring some much needed movement to the proceedings and there is plenty of intelligent humour to enjoy – all the stockbrokers are played by the same actor, for instance, enhancing the feel of corporate anonymity. I particularly liked it when Zantrox finally turns into a murderous gorilla, neatly echoing King Kong as he rampages mechanically across the city’s skyscrapers.
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>Oops!Animation, Youth, Ultra Shorts, Comedy
7 September 2010
Reviewer: Chris Evans

Watching Trevor Hardy’s minute-long animation was a brief, but thoroughly enjoyable experience that made me laugh out loud. Simple in design and plot, the film features an armour-suited knight riding a pot-bellied, skinny legged horse to save a damsel in distress, but his journey proves far tougher than expected and even includes a pit-stop with rabbits. Delightfully quirky and nicely animated, this film will hopefully serve as a stepping stone for the director, featured in last month’s VODcast, into a deservedly successful career.
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>A Brazilian ImmigrantDocumentary
6 September 2010
Reviewer: Chris Evans

“The UK is a great country, so why can’t they welcome people who come to try and make themselves a little greater.” These are the words of the film’s Brazilian director who arrived in the UK to study, but soon realized that Brazilians weren’t welcomed at the immigration office. His story is overlapped by other similar stories of Brazilians treated with little respect by the immigration officials who are accused in the film of having pre-conceived ideas about them due to the colour of their skin and the fact they come from a ‘third world’ country. After the appalling story of Jean Charles De Menezes being shot by police because they thought he was a terrorist, this is a telling indictment of the dark underbelly of anti immigration feelings in the UK, stirred up by the press. A simple, imaginatively made documentary with an important message.
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>Dirty Words: The Letter CComedy
5 July 2010
Reviewer: Mike Barnard

Remember those kids programmes aimed at boosting your vocabulary by presenting words using a series of themes? Cult US filmmaker, T. Arthur Cottam obviously does and in this hilarious film uses the light-hearted presentation and bright colours of kids TV to illustrate a collection of rude words and phrases beginning with the letter 'c'. With a mix of animated segments, all-smiling presenters and spelling aides perfectly mimicking early morning children’s television style, this a trip down memory lane with a very rude spin. For adults only!
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>Extra HolesComedy
5 July 2010
Reviewer: Mike Barnard

This film is for everybody who has woken up after a big night out, in a rush to get out the door and in desperate need to find one small, vital item, but can't remember where you left it. Extra Holes sees a ruffled James (Pietro Herrera) harass a sleeping Leo (Mo Nazam) as he desperately looks for his belt. He can’t get to work without it and if he gets to work late (again) he'll get the sack. As the hung-over pair frantically search through their untidy flat, we get glimpses of the hectic previous night. A clever, well-made film with a couple of neat twists at the end.
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>This Empty IslandHorror
5 July 2010
Reviewer: Mike Barnard

The sight of a deserted London in 28 Days Later is an iconic image in the history of cinema depicting the human race being wiped out by a virus. Director Russell Miller seems to have taken his inspiration from those stark images as he presents a brooding collection of lingering black and white shots depicting a dead Britain. His moody, patient film gives a real sense of urban decay and the final images of blood-covered youths staring at the camera offers a social comment too. Carefully-constructed, it serves up a haunting picture of near-future Britain drained of life.
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>A Modest ProposalDocumentary
2 June 2010
Reviewer: Paul Gallagher

This simple but effective piece is a satire about nuclear power, featuring the poet Danny Chivers addressing the camera in the grounds of Dungeness power station. The title is an explicit reference to Jonathan Swift’s classic 1729 treatise, and while his anti-nuclear poem isn’t in the same league of originality or wit, it is sharp and funny, making a clear and worthwhile point. This film is also a good introduction to the work of poet and rabble-rouser Chivers, and while he initially comes across as a little too similar to Russell Howard in his upbeat sarcastic delivery, the political focus of his work marks him out as sufficiently different to be worth investigating.
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>The PassDrama, Horror
2 June 2010
Reviewer: Paul Gallagher

This atmospheric drama is excellent evidence for just how much can be achieved with a tiny budget and a lot of creativity. Gareth Crook, who wrote, directed, edited and stars in the film, makes great use of a single location - a deserted country road in the middle of nowhere – and a subtle soundtrack, to build a growing sense of unease and foreboding. The insertion of a flashback helps to add depth to the stranded driver’s predicament, and Crook’s overall attention to detail ensures the believability of the set-up. With this kind of story, we know things will take a turn for the surreal at some point, and sure enough The Pass concludes in the realm of the truly weird. Keep watching after the credits for a neat postscript.
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>Bus KongAnimation
2 June 2010
Reviewer: Paul Gallagher

Subtitled ‘King of the Urban Jungle’, Ed Hartwell’s unhinged animated take on King Kong – with London’s famous Routemaster bus replacing the giant ape – offers a funny couple of minutes along with some gently subversive undertones. His simple animation style recreates the city’s landmarks as monochrome backdrops, with the bright red bus zipping between them hither and thither. The plot sticks to the hallmarks of Kong’s final showdown, with the Gherkin standing in for the Empire State Building, and ex-Mayor Ken Livingstone unleashing a squadron of biplanes to dislodge the pesky bus. Yes, it’s as silly as it sounds, and heaps of fun.
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>A Day In Flat EarthDance, Animation
5 May 2010
Reviewer: Michelle Thomas

Clever conceptual dance film where all the action takes place in two dimensions. Chalk paintings on a pavement are the furniture, as a dancer gets up, cleans her teeth, showers, drinks her tea, takes her dog for a walk, goes for a swim, catches a bus. Its the very ordinariness of these activities, set against the oddity of ‘walking like an Egyptian’, that makes the film so original. Despite the occasional jerkiness of the stop-frame animation, this is lots of fun.
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>Nothing's The SameDrama
3 May 2010
Reviewer: Michelle Thomas

A short film from Burundi, Nothing’s The Same is the story of Anemone, a pretty girl engaged to successful, car-owning Nicholas; this makes her the target of unpleasant bitchiness from her neighbours. Fetching water one day, she is raped; the police are called but she is devastated... and terrified that Nicholas will call off the wedding.

It’s very exciting to see films coming out of Africa, starring Africans and dealing with universal problems. Some of the acting is slightly over the top and the score is a little intrusive at times, but otherwise this is a fine piece of work.
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>SpotlessYouth
3 May 2010
Reviewer: Michelle Thomas

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a condition which seems to be increasingly mainstream – Glee fans will know what I’m talking about – and Spotless is the story of a sufferer and undergraduate Mike. Living in halls populated by drunken, messy lads, every day seems like purgatory as he follows the series of arcane rituals that get him through. Mercilessly mocked at every turn, even by the shelf stackers in his local co-op, Mike’s only friend is check-out chick Rosie, herself a compulsive fan of antibacterial handwashes.

Spotless is a well made, competently performed film that succeeds in getting inside the head of an OCD sufferer. Mike’s panic about infection might seem a bit daft, but who hasn’t felt uncomfortable at a party they didn’t really want to go to? The lads from the halls, led by Dave, are more thoughtless than cruel; they’re having a good time and want everyone else to join in. Mike makes them uncomfortable, and they’re not mature enough to leave well enough alone. The ending is a bit of an anticlimax, but in some ways more satisfying for it.
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>Mowing The LawnScience Fiction
3 May 2010
Reviewer: Michelle Thomas

A clever idea to imagine what might have been going through the mind of Neil Armstrong just before he set foot on the moon. Well, I hope that at least he would have shaved. But the idea of him suffering from stage fright is neat, and setting your short in the control room of a space ship means high production values on a simple set.
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>Bob's BoxesFree
3 May 2010
Reviewer: Michelle Thomas

In a second-hand TV shop, a boy and a girl meet and fall in love to the sound of the Carpenters. But the path of true love never doesn’t run smoothly as they are trapped in televisions on opposite sides of the room; how will they ever get together? I liked this take on Romeo and Juliet: physical separation delineated by plastic boxes.
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>The Mouse That Teased The WindComedy, Horror
6 April 2010
Reviewer: Jay Richardson

This comedy-horror directed by stand-up comic and occasional filmmaker Dan Evans, specifically echoes a famous Monty Python sketch, but couches the punchline in a prevailingly dark, off-kilter mood that sustains your interest throughout and rewards further viewing. Integral to the film is an engagingly slack-jawed performance from Morgan Jones as a prospective house buyer, viewing property after property with his own freeloading agenda. Snappy editing accentuates the laughs and the more unsettling scenes. In the words of the film itself, it also contains “disappointing nudity”.
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>Immortal CoilAnimation, Science Fiction
6 April 2010
Reviewer: Jay Richardson

Given the speed at which computer technology is refining animation, this 2004 film by Andrew Purtell stands up exceptionally well to scrutiny post-Avatar. On a snow-swept planet in the distant future, two humanoid species of cyborg wage a pre-programmed war for eternal life. For all the impressively rendered artificial anatomy and hard-core armoury on display, Purtell isn’t above indulging in a little robo-skeleton butchery in order to showcase his ability to recreate liquids. Plot is distinctly secondary to the intricately detailed visuals and faultless soundtrack, so just sit back and admire the animation skills on display.
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>ChimeraDrama
6 April 2010
Reviewer: Jay Richardson

A social worker, wracked with guilt following the disappearance of a 17-year-old girl under his supervision, undergoes hypnosis in an effort to control his aggression. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, Matthew (Barry Etherson) is convinced he can recall the identity of Claire Peterson’s abductor, hazily glimpsed in his memory. Driven to desperation by his lack of progress, he steals the treatment case file, with tragic consequences. Some of the supporting cast in Turlough McAleenan’s film are discordantly stiff and the exposition occasionally crowbarred. but this is easily forgivable given the central character’s unreliable mental state and the narrative’s compelling pace.
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>City LightsMusic
6 April 2010
Reviewer: Jay Richardson

The prize for four-piece outfit, Bodymachine!’s City Lights track winning the Tech Music Schools 2009 Demo Review was this striking low-budget video shoot. Opening with the blurred image of a UFO falling through the night sky, director Mat Sunderland’s film splits into a pulsating, neon-wash variation on the standard performance promo with close-ups of band members lit by projected images and foregrounded against footage of darting metropolitan traffic and rockets. The track’s prominent synths are visually echoed by the video’s computer game colours, its editing rhythm dictated by the verses’ nervy breakbeats.
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>Blood On Your HandsDocumentary
6 April 2010
Review: Jay Richardson

Winner of the student film competition in this year’s SEE Brighton Documentary Film Festival, Hamida Chowdhury’s 2008 Blood On Your Hands follows the Coalition To Abolish The Fur Trade in their protests outside Harrods, the only UK department store to still sell fur garments. Mohamed Al-Fayed’s private ownership of the store, and lack of accountability to shareholders, makes challenging the fur policy all the more difficult for both the dedicated protesters and filmmakers, whose access to official company comment is repeatedly thwarted and restricted to shoving a camera in the proprietor’s face at his high-profile sales.

Given such constraints, the film is necessarily a little one-sided, as CAFT’s members are afforded ample opportunity to voice their grievances. Chowdhury does speak to a former Harrods employee, however, while a security guard maintains the demonstrations actually boost the store’s exclusivity and sales; a claim strongly disputed by the protesters. Some contextual analysis of fur trade economics to stand alongside the mischievous footage from Harrods’ pet department would have been appreciated, but given the resources at the crew’s disposal, this is an excellent example of positioning viewers at the heart of a compelling issue.
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