Singapore Short Film Awards - Cashless by Derek Tan & Melinda Tan

'Cashless' the film opens up almost with a signboard that says 'tried and tested' or 'quality control'. In more benign terms, it is 'entertainment guaranteed'. The steady actors, the agreeably safe (with ingenious touches occasionally) direction and crisp editing make it look like all the ingredients of a formula were present. Danny Jow, for instance, a trained actor and actor trainer, anchors the film well. A pleasant surprise was he is much more controlled in his craft than his usual exuberant self. There were the smart-ass moments when Danny looked to his toys for inspiration for excuses for turning up late for work, or when his buddy plotted one Ah Beng gang against one Ah Seng gang. It was a film fit for loosening your defenses, sitting back and just enjoying the snappy plot and the 'no room for error' jokes.

A number of filmmakers have been observed to be making feature-shorts or short-features. My guess is that they are either pitching it for future funding for a real feature or they cannot scale down their ideas. Another much-talked about mini-feature is Kelvin Sng's 'The Gang'. These cast & crew-of-thousands efforts are at worst being labelled as naive, self-important and convoluted. But why should we be judging them this way when we are talking about breaking the mould, beating the parameters of the short film convention? They can be gems in their own scheme of things. Unless, of course the run the risk of not knowing how to end their oevrgrown plots.In 'Cashless', it suffered on this point. While Danny was getting too caught up in his mission to recover his lost $5000, the screenwriters (great job on the dialogues!) might have decided they needed to end the film to keep within the 30min convention of a short film. So perhaps, that's when the lead had a sudden warm fuzzy longing for his mum in the midst of a riot between the gangs. And in a flash, money was no longer important. I hope Derek and Melinda do decide to expand the film somehow. But for now, it seemed the well orchestrated concerto the film has taken a sudden turn into a sonata.
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