Shorts Round Up of the Week: 1/29/21

It’s been a while since I’ve delivered the Shorts Round Up of the Week as I was previously incapacitated with the flu for most of December. Now that we’re on a new year and a new chapter for the site, I thought it only fitting to unveil the first “Shorts Round Up of the Week” for 2021.

8 (2019)
Gabriele Fabbro’s drama is a pretty good, if uneven narrative that seems to be going in one direction, but resolves on an odd closing note. I was never sure what Fabbro, who stars, was going for, which kind of ruined the overall experience here. Fabbro plays a selfish and sexist billiard player that hustles for living. When he meets his match with a quiet young woman named Jessie who beats him at pool, he struggles to hone his pool skills before she returns, hoping to romance her. All in all “8” is a solid drama. It’s very well made, and the direction is great. I also loved the performances by Fabbro, and Jordan Knapp, respectively. I just wish the movie was more cohesive in the end. It all felt so messily assembled with some fantasy elements, some ideas about karma, and not wholly justified reason why the pool player would fall for Jessie. Now Available on Amazon Prime Video.

Camera Test Subject (2020)
Written and director Sean Meehan’s short is a good bit of meta experimental drama about the tedium that can be the process of film making. Sure directing movies and making art can be very rewarding, but it also has its moments when it’s unglamorous and dull. Actor Timothy J. Cox is very good in the small film about a man discussing the cogs and gears of camera testing and how demanding it can be, even when it doesn’t entirely seem like it. “Camera Test Subject” is a good meta-short and one worth checking out, especially if you’re an actor or director.

Pamela & Ivy (2020)
Leah McKendrick’s “Pamela & Ivy” is an excellent fan film that attempts to lend new insight in to the psychology of Batman villain Poison Ivy. One of the most enigmatic and alluring villains of his rogues gallery, McKendrick does a bang up job re-framing her origin as someone who’s been consistently victimized by men (Eric Roberts has a great supporting role) and even manages to gain her powers by what we can only think of as rape. McKendrick is great as the titular Pamela and Ivy, presenting her as two egos that ultimately join to become villains, and ultimately anti-heroes.

Raiders of the Hidden Donald Trump Fetish Doll (2018)
An independent movie director in the middle of a crowdfunding campaign fends off a variety of malevolent individuals who seek to steal his ultimate crowdfunding perk: a Donald Trump fetish doll. Angel Connell, who pulls multiple duties for the short film, right down to acting, presents a bizarre albeit fun dark comedy. It’s in bad taste, and I loved it, mainly because it takes digs at Donald Trump, and way he’s suddenly a draw for many other power hungry dictators that are convinced his Fetish doll is a source of great control. Connell’s film is obviously very low budget, but he makes the movie work with some zany humor, and a great looking Donald Trump Fetish Doll. It’s just too bad we never saw it come to life. But then, maybe the real world Trump is horrific enough.

Under the Bed (2020)
A young girl drops her earring under her bed, and as she attempts to fish it out, she spots a pair of legs at her doorstep. Much to her horror, when she emerges the presence isn’t there. Director Kévin Mendiboure, and Vincent Darkman’s “Under the Bed” is a very short but sweet demonstration in editing and suspense. It has no real narrative, and the set up is severely lacking, but if you’re in the mood for the jolt, it’s right up your alley. I wish we’d had some set up, but otherwise I dug it.

Zero Messages Left (2020)
People start to disappear all over the world after receiving an audio message from an unknown source, being broadcasted through video chats. Sasha Darko’s post apocalyptic thriller has a good concept and idea on its hands, but it’s kind of a slog to sit through. The fact that there isn’t any dialogue works against “Zero Messages Left” as there isn’t a clear definition of what exactly is unfolding. While it does feel like a very depressing picture of our current state of affairs with isolation, quarantining, and lockdown from one another, the climax kind of undoes everything that happens before it, and there’s not much explanation as to what the resolution signifies. I liked Darko’s directing style, but I didn’t quite get what it was trying to convey.