Review: Tea For Two

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We’ve encountered the work of Pork Chop Pictures before, with their charming short film Soul Matrix. This time, they’ve partnered with Mini Productions, and after a successful crowdfunding campaign, they’ve released Tea For Two.

Writer/Director Mark Brennan and producers April Kelley and Sara Huxley put together quite the cast for this 15 minute short: John Challis (Only Fools and Horses) and Amanda Barrie (Coronation Street) are joined by William Postlethwaite and Abigail Parmenter for this charming tale of tea, time and love.

Alice & Jim

Centred around a tea shop, the narrative is carried by Challis, in top grouchy form, and Barrie who is endearingly funny throughout. The narrative can’t be detailed explicitly, as there’s a surprising element to it, but it flows well, unveiling the narrative smoothly. While some didn’t catch the implications of the ending, I found it nicely subtle, where it could have veered into heavy-handed exposition.

Tea For Two is beautifully coloured and the music and sound are spot on. Overall Tea For Two is a great success for the team, and we hope it does well when it hits the festival circuit.

Review: Emotional Fusebox

Emotional Fusebox PosterWhen the list of BAFTA Nominations came out, after my glee that Birdman looked like it was going to get the acclaim it deserved, I started working my way through the list of short films. I hadn’t seen any of them, nor was I able to, due to the lock-in ‘feature’ of film festivals. But I had heard of Emotional Fusebox, partly because I think Jodie Whittaker is an excellent actress, with excellent turns in Broadchurch, Black Mirror and Attack the Block. So, I contacted the writer/director of Emotional Fusebox Rachel Tunnard, and she very kindly gave me a link to view it.

Emotional Fusebox, while a self-contained 14 minute short, is actually a pilot for the feature film How To Live Yours, currently in post-production. Jodie Whittaker plays Anna, a young woman who lives as a nigh-hermit in her Mum’s garden shed making videos with her thumbs. Her Mum wants her to come out, interact with the world and meet a man, but Anna is more than reluctant. For reasons that become apparent in the third act, Anna prefers to hide from the real world, and instead immerse herself in the fantasy of thumb theatre videos.

I loved Emotional Fusebox, it was incredibly well shot and Jodie Whittaker was excellent as I had no doubt she would be. But what especially impressed me was how natural the dialogue came over; there was no hint of overbearingly filmic dialogue or characterisation and so everything came across as refreshingly real. It added to the charm of Anna, her mum, her best friend and the story as a whole.

Check out the trailer below and, when you can, see Emotional Fusebox. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing the full How To Live Yours later this year.

Short Film: The First Step

This review is different to previous short film reviews in two ways: Firstly, I was told about it and given an opportunity to watch it by the filmmaker, Daniel Brown. And secondly, as the aim is for it to be shown at film festivals, the full short film isn’t available to watch online yet. However, here’s the trailer:

tfsteaserposterWritten, directed and edited by Kate McMeans and Daniel Brown of Wide Eyed Pictures, The First Step is a seven minute horror short.

It’s a familiar horror tale, the monster living in the cellar of an old house, the young girl being stalked. Sadly, it’s very familiar indeed, and the main shock or surprise of the short was that there was neither shock nor surprise to be had. The narrative was a straight, and well-telegraphed line, from beginning to end.

However, the production values are high, and the acting solid. Particular praise should also be directed towards the construction and portrayal of the monster, a creepy construct with perhaps a reminiscence of The Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth. Also, the shot down the staircase is well executed and well used.

As an alternative horror short though, I’d like to recommend David Sandberg’s Lights Out, which even on a re-watch still gives me goosebumps!

Short Film: Battle of the Jazz Guitarist

2013 Student Academy Award® National Finalist and made with funds by Adobe®, Battle of the Jazz Guitarist is a documentary about a famous jazz guitarist from the Fiji Islands who moved to the US for the betterment of his family.

All factually correct, and yet it doesn’t begin to describe this wonderful film by filmmaker Mark Columbus. This, the first ‘documentary’ short I’ve reviewed, is an emotional ride, from interesting, to funny, to poignant. You should watch it right now.

Wonderful, right?

I still wonder how he did, whether he came up with the idea fully formed with the subtitle script pre-written, or whether he shot it, then added narrative over the top. Or whether the truth is halfway in between.

But either way, I love this short film and I’ve already re-watched it three times.