A very delayed and late review of some short film in 2011 Best of First Takes! I shall not delve into plenty of excuses such as I was away for a short break in Dec and being overly caught up with Christmas, NYE, and now CNY for that matter. Better late than never!

10 short films have been selected for the Best of First Takes
They are:

  1. I make T Shirts
  2. Summer and its rain
  3. Trio Dekil 1
  4. Trio Dekil 2
  5. Movie Star – Sleeq (Opening Reel)
  6. Epiphany (Read Jeremy’s review of Epiphany here )
  7. Skate
  8. Complacency
  9. An Unconventional Love Story
  10. Yours Truly

There are some good ones, but alas with predictable storylines that have been shot again and again such as An Unconventional Love Story and Skate. Some have pretty interesting I have picked 3 of out of the 10 short films to review. Not necessarily the best, but the films where I have the most ranting to blog about. They are:
  1. I Make T-shirts
  2. Complacency
  3. Yours Truly
I make T-shirts (IMDb link here)

Director and writer Stephanie Bousley shows off her talent in writing dialogue in this short I make T-shirts.



It is a fictional biography of Rick Shamus, who designs and prints the ridiculous T-shirt designs like iPood etc. I especially love the interviews, the voiceovers. The dialogues are extremely well written, and delivered by the actors who made it believable.

Actors played off each other really well too. Chi Laughlin, who plays Rick Shamus was great. Rick Shamus clearly believes wholehearted in his business of designing T-shirt slogans that would sell. And he portrays to the camera that he works hard in thinking of designs to put on a T-shirt.



Like Watson is to Sherlock to make any Sherlock detective stories work, we are introduced to Shivani, the intern who provides a more in depth perspective of Rick Shamus. Shivani, who was duped into the internship was stuck with him internship because she had to fulfil her credits and also, not to go crawling back to her family to complain about her situation. Through the character Shivani, audience is introduced to the other side of Rick Shamus. Humans usually like to think of themselves as hardworking, sensitive, sociable (insert other positive adjectives here.) However, with Shivani, we are introduced to Rick Shamus, the deluded slob who is utterly blindsided by his faith in his designs.



What I love most is how tight the directing was. Paired with cocky dialogue from Rick and the emptiness in the scene like at the meeting with the investors (there was only one.) showed the irony and the sad, sad world Rick Shamus leads.

I am really looking forward to more works from Stephanie!

Complacency

In light of the success of The Artist and the come back of silent film, I thoroughly enjoyed Complacency. Although lacking the finesse of The Artist, Complacency embraces what was so special and unique of black and white silent films then. The storyline was absurd (how do you find a wooden well in the middle of a plain field in Singapore? And also, such a husband who’s aim in the short was to please his wife?), but comical. The exaggerated acting? Check. The cut to the frames and the text? Check.


 Great attempt at exaggerated acting. This is one of my favourite scene as the husband tries to pull himself out of the well.
 And the wife is still not happy he nearly died in the well trying to find out what she is satisfied in life.

However! There are still plenty of modern slipups in the short. For instance, the scene is set in modern Singapore, where the 5 Cs (Condo, Credit Card etc) are still prevalent. The fonts and the presentation of the text are very modern. It irks me to see the text roll out alphabet by alphabet, kind of like a Powerpoint Presentation.


Personally, I wished that they could have put in more editing effort to make it more “realistic” even if the setting of the short is in modern times. You can also see slipups in the take as well, like when the well moved, you can almost see a hint of a pair of human feet as the make-shift well lifts up. I would appreciate a little more directorial effort to make it more seamless.

What was also clearly modern in this short was the movement of the camera. In those days, the camera was still while the actors moved within the frame. Closeups were never gradual as the technology were not to advanced then. But it is refreshing to see how the director played it up to their advantage to tell the story.

Overall, good effort in attempting at a black and white film. Now, excuse me while I reload Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times on Youtube to reminiscence the good old era of B/W silent films...

Yours Truly

Yours Truly is a short directed by Kevin Chan. Set in Australia it tells a devastating love story between Chris and Rachel. Ladies from Singapore might be familiar with the actor playing Chris. He is Desmond Chiam, winner of Cleo’s Eligible Bachelor in 2011.




The film shows mature editing and directing, utilizing cuts, stills, close ups to tell the story. However, the short film reminds me too strongly of this Korean music video “Kiss – Because I am a Girl” that I watched many moons ago.




 Of course, the music video was not copied entirely. I chose to review this film because though it did remind me of the music video, it was not as grossly self-sacrificial.

What I found in this short a kind of personal redemption from the utterly ridiculous plotline of Because I am a Girl. A brave take to another parallel universe of what might-have-been. Although it still follows a cheesy pick up at the beginning of the short where boy meets girl and they fall in love, they try to use a more realistic take to what could have happened for the girl to lose and gain back her sight.



The editing of the film however, falls back into a mini music video where Chris discovers Rachel has tragically and very irresponsibly left him via a letter in a box. The stills, edited into black & white, in my opinion played no significance to the scene. Perhaps it could have been done to play tribute to the music video it copied, or just done so to amplify Desmond’s looks.


See what I mean? But anyway, somebody just offer this guy a role in some major Korean drama already! This fella literally eats up the camera. And I guess the director also realizes this and decided to milk it for all its worth. Hopefully in his next short he can explore something else rather than tragic romance. It's already overplayed in many Korean dramas for that matter.

That’s all for Best of First Takes 2011, and this is to a very huat Dragon Year to all Sindie readers! 

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