So far, the shorts I’ve seen at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival have been awesome. I’ve yet to see one that wasn’t at least above-average, and that’s great. I’ve rounded up my five favorites (so far) below the jump which scores and brief reviews on each.
A handful of the shorts are available for streaming here (it’s free to sign-up!), including The Kiss, Mr. Stache, The Wormhole, and the sensational The Dungeon Master (which I will cover in part two). Don’t miss your chance to watch these great films!
some boys don’t leave – 77
I didn’t get some boys don’t leave, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t enjoyable. It tells the story of a nameless everyman (Jesse Eisenberg) who lives in the hallway of the apartment he shares with his equally nameless ex-girlfriend (Eloise Mumford). His ex wants nothing to do with him, but lets him stay, assumably because they share a lease. She lives her life as if he isn’t there, stepping over him en route to the bathroom, giving her friends a play-by-play of his hallway toenail clippings, and even bring home total d-bags and having loud sex with them in the bedroom they once shared. He makes several attempts to reach out and mend their relationship, and the only times they are reciprocated is when she thinks he’s not awake. The film’s end is kind of ambiguous, at least for me, but the build-up was absolutely masterful. Eisenberg displayed more real emotion than any film I’ve ever seen him in, and does it all from a cramped hallway while Mumford was as excellent at seething disregard as she was at fragile vulnerability. I don’t know what he was writing in his book, why they broke up, or what his plan was, and in the end, I wish I did, but that wasn’t a deal-breaker by any means. some boys don’t leave was a thoroughly enjoyable, albeit confusing, tale of clinging to the past and, possibly, letting go.
Dead Cat – 73
En route to play poker with his friends, Roger (Nate Mooney, also known as Ryan McPoyle on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) runs over a cat. Upon arriving to the poker game, his friends (Ethan Sandler, Michael Weston, Lance Barber, and Josh Weinstein) are all shocked to discover he didn’t make sure it was dead. They return to the scene of the crime and what ensues threatens to unravel their longtime friendship. A fairly light dark comedy, Dead Cat is like one of those character-driven episodes of Community when the glue holding the whole gang together threatens to dissolve, except instead of a study room and missing pens, we have a dark street and a dead cat. The five men bicker back and forth, lashing out at each other for their flaws, stopping only to take notice of the suffering cat. Also like Community, the issues tabled are resolved in the end and we’re treated to a surprisingly sentimental end, considering the often crude subject matter of the conversation. The performances were good, the writing was well above average, and by the end, I was charmed by these five flawed men and a cat named Hubert.
Mr. Stache – 85
I don’t know about you, but ever since Pushing Daisies was canceled, I’ve been dangerously deprived of whimsy. Fortunately Mr. Stache, winner of the American Express “My Movie Pitch” contents, delivers the whimsy in spades. The film’s official synopsis sounds very much like what the actual pitch must have been: “This is a very serious drama about a man who grows a mustache, and everybody hates it, and then he meets the girl of his dreams….” It’s so simple, and it works so well. Mr. Stache is a film overflowing with two things: mustaches and charm. Excellent cinematography, sensational writing, and a refreshing fairy tale-esque delivery (courtesy of the uproarious narration of Kali Rocha), Mr. Stache was an absolute joy to watch and if you get the chance, make sure you check it out.
The Wormhole – 80
The Wormhole tells the story of Wally (TJ Sullivan), a young boy stuck in a pretty miserable situation. After his younger brother went missing on a family outing at the beach, his parents have split up, his mom has become miserable and short-tempered, and he’s been dumped at his grandmother’s for the summer. After learning about wormholes and alternate dimensions while visiting his grandmother in the classroom where she teaches, Wally sets out to find a wormhole so he can go back and protect his little brother, thereby repairing his life. Sullivan’s performance was staggering, both heart-wrenching and heart-warming at the same time. A powerful script and expert direction on the part of Jessica Sharzer, believable actors, and a somber, beautiful score all combine for a doozy of a short film, sticking with me long after the credits rolled.
The Kiss – 85
The Kiss is a cautionary tale about two drunk teenage Australian girls (they had a vice grip on me by this point) that recklessly jump into a fire water tank and are plunged into a hellish ordeal they may not walk away from. When your film consists entirely of two attractive girls in their underwear treading water, being able to maintain a sense of creeping dread is a tough job, but writer-director Ashlee Page succeeds without breaking a sweat. Unlike many movies I see, I caught the deeper meaning of the story pretty easily (and yet without feeling like they were hitting me over the head with it): Aimee is at a crossroads and has to choose between being pulled under with the hard-drinking, casual sex-having Steph or keeping her head above water. I may be wrong, but I think it’s a pretty good theory. In any event, The Kiss is a very well-done tale of teenagers thinking they’re invincible and finding out the hard way that they’re not.