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Thursday, 5 September 2013

The Disco is in the Details (2013)

Directors: Shane Sandler and Brian Weis
Stars: Jordan Taylor Strom, Tiffany Vo and Tony Calenti
This film was a submission to one of the IFP Phoenix film challenges in 2013. Here's an index to my reviews of 2013 submissions.
No less than 22 teams submitted short films for the IFP Beat the Clock challenge this year and all were screened at the Phoenix Art Museum, including the half dozen which were ineligible for awards. That's a lot of pictures to work through in a single sitting, especially when the filmmakers only had 48 hours to build their entries from scratch and not all of them managed to do it well. It was here, ten films in, that the set started to drag a little, initially because four writers at the Incoming! team couldn't find a story. For the Beat the Clock challenge, the benevelent overlords at IFP required that each submission feature one of two props, either a candle or a disco ball. A surprising number of entrants managed to track down the latter, but few had good ideas on how to use it. Here, it's a pure MacGuffin, the central point for every character but something that we really don't care about. It's just found and improvised against, but not as well as Who's Line is It Anyway? contestants manage with less preparation.

Put simply, a young couple move into a new house, where they talk to each other and to the camera, while trying to put up with their roommate and the disco ball that he discovers in a box. At least their antics are agreeably odd and surreal. The best has this third wheel standing there rubbing his nipples as the couple make out on the couch! That pesky disco ball somehow travels everywhere, even into the shower with the man who might be its master or its slave, I can't really tell. There's fun to be had, but it's all in the moments and the result doesn't stand up as anything more than a vaguely related set of odd gags. These folk deserve credit for conjuring up a freaky use for a required prop, and they clearly have some twisted imagination to their names, but they couldn't find a way to transform a few ideas into anything that even stands up on its own, let alone anything meaningful. It wasn't the worst entry this year but it doesn't have anything except some surreal oddness to recommend it.

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