We’re a little over the halfway point of 2021, and there have been some amazing films shown during the HollyShorts screenings thus far. Thankfully, there’s no sign of stopping as this month’s contribution to the bi-monthly screening has another batch of incredible films to show off. With some truly talented creators at the helm, these selections are sure not to disappoint.
The Birthday Cut – From writer/director Eva Midgley comes a film about a mother who has finally had enough of the treatment given to her by her mother-in-law and cracks under the pressure during a birthday party for her young son. This film plays with tension a lot, building so much so early that the pleasant moments feel like the calm before the storm, and the entire time tension is brewing just below the surface. This goes on for quite some time until things finally come to a head and secrets are revealed, giving this family many things to think about and consider. This is one of the most tense films I’ve ever watched, with this family’s dysfunction leading to a powerful reveal. Midgley brought an impressive story, and the cast of Grayson Eddey, Barbara Linton, Sara Ann Parker, Imogen Roux and Jovani Zambrano all brought their own talents into building such a slow but powerful film.
Extraneous Matter – This Japanese film is definitely one of the more unique of this block, as director Ken’ichi Ugana brings the darkly funny and fascinating film Extraneous Matter, a film that is trying to do a lot of very interesting things all at once. It focuses on a woman (Kaoru Koide) and her friends, who with Koide going first, find a reprieve from their mundane lives through the service of an odd-looking tentacled creature living in her closet. As the being graphically pleasures her, she finds that it is also doing the same to not only her friends, but her boyfriend as well, giving them all the change of pace their repressive lives need. It’s definitely not a movie for the faint, as it is pretty graphic, but there is an odd kind of message in the hedonistic take on what is typically a very specific anime pornography, only this time done in live action; that there are many whose lives are pretty bland, and even if its with a tentacled creature, the pleasure and release from those trappings is essential and very welcomed.
From Russia With Motive – The first entry in this month’s screening is actually a selection of episodes from the wild television series From Russia With Motive. Starring show creators Charlotte Roi (Natasha) and Jessie Nole (Svetlana), along with Julia Kostenevich (Tatiana), the web series comedy focuses on two Russian sisters who leave their home in search of rich, American husbands. A series that parodies a lot of American reality television, this show is over the top, ridiculous and hilarious. From the opening of the show, it’s obvious that these two are wildly vapid and catty, though also completely co-dependent on one another. Roi and Nole are delightful from minute one, delivering the kind of comedic performance that demands the actor be completely committed to the role, which both clearly are. The selections for this screening where the first and eighth episodes, which consist of the pilot and first season finale. The finale episode shows the culmination of all of their efforts to find rich husbands, with both sisters going through their own adventures. It’s clear there has been a lot of development, with some incredible resolutions that make it clear that this is a show that has a lot of potential. Along with Roi and Nole, the series was co-written and directed by Colin Francis Costello, who lent their talent to the show in many ways. They helped capture that reality show aesthetic perfectly, giving the series a good foundation to bring some laughs into the format.
Book Of Ruth – From writer and star Chen Drachman and directed by Becca Roth, this drama brings about some incredible revelations as a family Passover dinner brings back some old memories and unearths secrets that could potentially change everything known about the history of the worst event in Jewish History. This was a heartfelt story that was just incredible to watch. The cast was incredible, especially Drachman and the amazing Tovah Feldshuh, whom the film focuses on. Feldshuh was a force in this movie, really bringing some intense emotion to a role that could only work with that kind of believability. While it brings up memories that some may want to forget, it also handles them in a way that is respectful, both to the individual involved and to those who lost their lives as well.
Papua – Written by Austin Arnold and directed by Johnny Rey Diaz (who star along with Aaron Arnold), this film focuses on two brothers as they visit their dying father. As they take their final moments with him, they say their farewells while also revealing some pretty major secrets that had yet to be discovered. The brothers, twins, along with their childhood best friend, find themselves battling not only their grief, but each other, as their bickering surfaces in various ways. The twin brothers are ridiculous towards one another, having this back and forth that can only comes from a lifetime of being together. Things get dark rather quickly, however, when some pretty damning things are revealed during the grieving process. Things continue down a pretty dark path, with an ending that was truly surprising. It’s a very engaging film that was one of the more surprising entries in this already interesting set of films.
Crown Juul – In this dystopian comedy by Peter Faint, the despotic Juul Corp. (yes, the vape company), rules with an iron fist, leaving it up to a group of undercover agents to stop them. Leading the Resistance are the chosen few, looking to end the Juul regime, and Juulian-NN08 (Sean Marshall) is attempting to infiltrate them in order to take them down from the inside. Stopping him? Crown Juul (Jamie McNeil) and her Juul police (Daniel Jeffrey and Sarah Bernstein). In this terrible, Juul-pun filled world, only one can reign supreme. This is a ridiculous film, taking a silly concept and cranking it up even higher to great effect. Kudos to the cast and creators for finding a way to fit somewhere in the ballpark of fifty Juul puns in a seven minute movie. Truly impressive.
Posies – From R.H. Stavis, who wrote and co-directed the film, and co-director Katherine Fischer comes an amazing horror short that stars Anna Diop, Andy Favreau and Zach Rogers that focuses on a woman who has taken to hiding flowers under her skin to help hide the transformation into something monstrous, a phenomenon that has begun to happen in society. The body horror in this film starts from the first minute, as this de-evolution process is shown in its earlier stages, showing Maddy doing what she can to still feel human throughout this ordeal. But as things progress and Maddy attempts to feel human again, this new form of humanity, or inhumanity, continues to be a weight on her shoulders, despite attempts from Jack to help her feel real and beautiful again. This was a gorgeously shot film, and one of the favorites of the screening just for the atmosphere. A truly well done, slowly built horror film.
1/4 Cup – This film, by Kate Beecroft, foucses on Blake, Casey and Max, as they spend the day together. But as the day passes, Max’s comments about a soupy Mac & Cheese brings Blake and Casey back to heir troubled pasts, letting them live through their traumas again as they attempt to take care of a child that isn’t even their own. This is a difficult situation, but one that is rewarding for Blake and Casey, despite its challenges. This is a heartfelt but bittersweet film in some respects, but the cast gives it so much energy and life. Max Easton (as Max) is a whirlwind of positive energy and fun, and the chemistry between Max, Casey (Miro Serrell Freed) and Blake (Beecroft) is genuine and beautiful.
Be sure to check these wonderful films out, as they screen from Thursday, July 22nd to Sunday, July 25th, only on BitPix! Thanks again to all of these incredible creative minds for all of their hard work, and for sharing their films with us.