Posts Tagged ‘Short Film’

Review: Raiders of the Hidden Donald Trump Fetish Doll (2018 Short)

March 20, 2020

Image Copyright: Parousian Pictures

This is going to be an unorthodox review, and I say that with joy — generally speaking I wouldn’t dedicate the first two paragraphs to discussing what the creator of a film means to me personally, but in this moment it seems important. Angel Connell is a filmmaker focused on short films — and when I say filmmaker I mean he writes, directs, produces, and acts in his films. That level of passion commands respect, and speaking honestly Connell was my first big break, reaching out to me in 2011 to review his short film Beneath the Veneer of a Murder when my blog at the time — Picture This! Reviews — had maybe 100 views. The success and legitimacy I felt when I received that DVD screener in the mail is unforgettable. And it led to a wild ride for about a year.

With the exception of a random movie review here or there, I’ve been out of the movie reviews game for around eight years. One of the reasons I stopped reviewing films initially was because Connell had sent me work from a friend of his to review, I accepted it and just couldn’t produce the words for it. I was ashamed of myself, I was young and didn’t realize that letting people down wasn’t the end of the world, but I didn’t even apologize, I just went dark. I say all of that because second chances don’t happen all that often, and this man is extending an olive branch to me during the COVID-19 outbreak after going years without communication. If I mean what I say in my respect and appreciation for Angel Connell, there’s no way I’m not publishing this review. So without further ado, here’s my thoughts on Raiders of the Hidden Donald Trump Fetish Doll, a short political comedy created by and starring Connell himself.

As the story goes, an indie filmmaker crowdfunding his next movie has a fundraising perk that a lot of people are very interested in stealing by any means necessary: A Donald Trump fetish doll with scary sharp teeth! It’s a simple and silly yet complete story, and I think if I add even one more word about the story itself I’d be giving too much away. We’ve gotta have standards for spoilers on this site!

Angel Connell and his co-star. Photo Credit: Chris Esper

Short films are incredibly tricky to make because you have a very limited amount of time to tell a story, and you have to be able to do a lot with a little. For example, during the intro of Raiders of the Hidden Donald Trump Fetish Doll, Connell narrates as his character reacts to his own thoughts. In other words, the detailed facial expressions he is able to make to set the film up as a comedy for everyone (as opposed to a partisan few) couldn’t happen if his character was physically talking. It’s an effective way of communicating multiple concepts at one time, which is especially important for short films. These are the sorts of decisions short filmmakers have to make in order to maximize time, and I don’t think there is any time wasted here.

Politically-themed films can be risky to one’s brand, and I’ll say politically Raiders of the Hidden Donald Trump Fetish Doll is not my thing, but it doesn’t have to be to be in order to be funny. I’m a self-identified socialist, yet I found myself laughing or chuckling most of the way through because Connell put in the work that made it easy to laugh. We’re allowed to have differences of opinion, but we’re also allowed to laugh with each other, especially during bleaker times when it’s easy to judge and blame people. And frankly the political points that Connell does make with this film do deserve discussion, though it’s important to note it is a comedy first.

If you get the chance to support Angel Connell on his journey, spend nine minutes laughing at something you may or may not agree with, just because it’s funny. That’s what we need right now, and that’s what Raiders of the Hidden Donald Trump Fetish Doll offers. The film is currently making its way through the film festival circuit, and I sincerely wish it the best.

CGIFF 2012: 22 Shorts and Walther

August 17, 2012

The Columbia Gorge International Film Festival is going on right now, and I happened to make my way to a little diner called Pop Culture in Vancouver, WA for the first full day of the festival. There were five venues in total showing different films and hosting different activities, and I chose Pop Culture because one of the flicks it was screening is Beneath the Veneer of a Murder, a neat little short which I reviewed favorably a while ago. In all, 21 other shorts played, with one 2 hour “movie” to end the day.

This is the first time I’ve sat through a marathon of short films, and it made me really appreciate the good ones. A problem which I noticed at the festival is that a lot of these short films aren’t very good. The most notable problem is that some of the films don’t tell an entire story; The ones which appear as if they’re scenes hand-picked from whole, full length films. Telling an entire story in 10 minutes is hard.

Look to Beneath the Veneer of a Murder for an example of a short film done right. It indeed is a single scene sandwiched between two voiceovers over a blank screen with text. But Angel Connell, the filmmaker behind the flick, worked within the confines of 8 minutes to tell the story all the while secretly testing the viewers’ perceptive abilities. It’s a neat idea, which is that when text to read and audio to hear are displayed at the same time, is your attention directed to the text or the audio? Depending on your answer, you’ll either understand the murder or you’ll wonder what the point is.

Compare that to another short that screened at the festival, The Vibe. It’s hard to talk about for a full paragraph because it’s simply a conversation between two friends sitting at a table in a restaurant. The conversation is vaguely entertaining, sure, but it seems like a character-development scene cut from a full length film. I noticed that sort of laziness more than I should have; Not all of the “poor” short films shown are like that, but there’s enough to guess that it’s a problem in the industry.

Below is a list of the 22 short films and the full length one, in the order I saw them, with a brief description and whether or not they deserve your attention.

  1. My Apologies: How to apologize for making a film. Not worth your minute.
  2. Speed Dating: Sleeping around might not be the best idea. See.
  3. The Tar Pit: Crazy girls are crazy and killing dogs is evil. See.
  4. The Vibe: Good times at a restaurant. Not worth your time.
  5. Omega Squad: Resolute: Indescribable action, an evil Asian supervillain, and three sexy heroines. Not worth your time.
  6. It’s as Easy as Riding a Bike: Mind reading is cool until you realize that it’s not. See.
  7. Bella Nubela: A salon that deserves no business. Not worth your time.
  8. Hide and Seek: The end of the dinosaurs, evolution and Nessie’s life story. Must see.
  9. Beneath the Veneer of a Murder: Murder pays in paper money. Must see.
  10. The Blue Bike: The DVD had technical issues, so I don’t know exactly what it’s about and can’t recommend or not recommend it.
  11. Cancel My Two O’Clock: Burglary can save your life. See.
  12. Between Two Points: This is what the world looks like on acid. See.
  13. Happy Birthday: Not all birthdays are exciting. Not worth your time.
  14. Au Fil Du Temps: Snowy mountains and more snowy mountains. Not worth your time.
  15. Date With Fate: 49 years is too long to be married. Not worth your time.
  16. Stairway to Heaven: When encountering writer’s block, wander the world aimlessly. Must see.
  17. The Reading: Living finger puppets fit best on clay fingers. See.
  18. Hyperlightness ad Absurdum: A means of inducing seizures. Not worth your time.
  19. Busted Walk: Smoking pot is justifiable when you’re a kid who walks like a 94 year old. See.
  20. La Reverberación: Screening phone calls of one lover to see another isn’t cool. Not worth your time.
  21. Surveillant: Kids can be really mean. Must see.
  22. Vorgarten: The juxtaposition of a man on a platform and woman in a garden. See.
  23. Walther: 2 hours of the most boring film in the history of the world. Avoid like the plague. Edit: My review was uploaded shortly after this post.

Not gonna lie, even though this is rough around the edges, it feels really good to get a film-related post out. Proof that this blog is still a combination tech AND film blog!

Thanks for reading!

Review: Stocking Stuffers

February 18, 2012

Last year I reviewed Beneath The Veneer Of A Murder (here), an experimental short film by Angel Connell that tests the audience’s perceptive abilities. This year I have the privilege of reviewing its predecessor, Stocking Stuffers, and here are my thoughts.

As with Beneath The Veneer Of A Murder, Stocking Stuffers opens up resembling a better-then-average porn flick. However unlike Veneer, Stocking Stuffers exploits a certain fetish and, interestingly enough, lingerie ads. With an introduction that defines cheese and a series of faux advertisements, Connell succeeds in expressing the absurdities that he wants to.

The cast is fantastic, with Christy Cashman starring as “The Woman” and Eric Scheiner as “The Man”. The two display chemistry on screen, and that they’re having fun in their respective roles is no secret. Enthusiasm from the cast is one of the most important things a film needs to be entertaining, which is one of the reasons Stocking Stuffers works.

What makes short films tough to review is that there isn’t much content to write about. Stocking Stuffers amounts to roughly one eleventh of the duration of a ninety minute flick; there isn’t a whole lot to go off of. Connell told me a while ago that not many people are open to reviewing shorts, and I’d wager that this is one reason why.

(I want to write more than 250 words, I really do. But I can’t without describing too much.)

Nevertheless, Stocking Stuffers is fun. If you’re lucky enough to run across it, be sure to check it out.

Stocking Stuffers on IMDb
Angel Connell’s Website w/ Contact Info

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