Wednesday 1 May 2013

Itty Bitty Bang Bang (2013)

Director: Travis Mills
Stars: Amber Michelle, Travis Mills and Jonathan Medina
A new month means a new Travis Mills review. I've already reviewed the one that screened at this year's Phoenix Film Festival, The Memory Ride, and actually in a better version than played there; the version available online omits the completely unnecessary ending that really lessens the film. I'm also running out of titles that have IMDb pages, though there are plenty more without to work through. So here's Itty Bitty Bang Bang, not the burlesque dancer from Seattle, but a slightly less risqué short film created for the 48 Hour Challenge at A3F, the Almost Famous Film Festival. It's not deep but it's lively enough to please and it certainly pleased the A3F judges, who listed it among their 20 top films for 2013 (of 47 submissions), highlighted Amber Michelle's acting and ranked it first for its use of two of the three required guidelines: a prop (a ring that had to be put on or taken off during the film) and a required line of dialogue ('I can't believe it worked').

The concept is incredibly simple, even for a short film that clocks in under four minutes including credits. A young couple played by Amber Michelle and Mills himself are having trouble with their relationship but find a surprising solution. They love each other, as she tells her flamboyantly gay friend Freddy, but the passion has gone. Freddy knows the answer, he says, and gives her a box that will make all the difference. 'This little thing will solve all of your problems,' he tells her and, of course, he's absolutely right. We see what's hidden in the box at the same time as our young couple, but we recognise it for the cockring that it is. They haven't a clue, so they spend as much time as has elapsed thus far in a variety of attempts to figure it out. To underline how simple the approach is, this whole section unfolds as a set of vignettes without either dialogue or sound, but with the backing of a suitably bouncy instrumental by the Lovelost.
And that's that. It feels so inherently simple that it's easy to dismiss on the grounds of being well constructed fluff, though there is a neat depth to the fact that while the ring itself may indeed be the solution to this couple's problems, it isn't necessarily only through its intended purpose; they pretty much solve them by accident merely trying to figure out what it's supposed to do. Beyond Michelle's acting and Mills's bookshelf (I can never avoid trying to figure out what's on shelves in movies), as well as Jonathan Medina's delightfully hammy turn at the beginning, this one wins out by just being bouncy. It's the sort of film you throw into the middle of a set of more serious shorts to wake everyone back up again. The only things serious here are Mills's beard and the book he's reading. He has his nose in Jean-Paul Sartre while she's getting a cucumber facial with a gay BFF; I do believe I can see what went wrong here! Well, now we know how it gets right again.

Itty Bitty Bang Bang can be viewed for free at YouTube or Vimeo.

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