Saturday 7 December 2013

Brevity (2013)

Director: Cody Martin
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.
There's a moment early in Brevity that I absolutely adored. Unfortunately it had nothing to do with the story whatsoever; it just provided the required line in magnificent style. The biggest success that Cody Martin and his intriguingly named Platypusducksnake team found here was in the moment they chose what to do. Given the mandate to use a skull as a prop and the line 'Jane, why are we floating through outer space?' in dialogue, they chose to frame their short as an audition for Hamlet, using the famous 'Alas, poor Yorick!' monologue as a testbed. How could they fit in the required line? By having an actor practice it backstage in the voice of William Shatner. He may be in the wrong place, but he hilariously provides the best delivery of the film, unfortunate given the circumstances. Nobody else comes close, most being too bad even for bad auditions. What's saddest is that our hero, who is beyond horrible in his nervous first attempt is supposed to nail it in his confident second. He doesn't.

And, really, the film falls apart because of that. The acting is not great here and it needed to be. If you need a good actor to act well, you need a great actor to deliberately act badly and get away with it. On the face of this short, these aren't even good actors, let alone great ones; perhaps that's why there are no acting credits provided. The most notable moment, in reality not the story, is when the man casting the play is clearly sold by the arrival of enunciation on his stage, even when it's unaccompanied by any real understanding of language. He applauds and, in doing so, loses all credibility, both for himself and for the film that he's in. It's a shame because I liked the basic idea here, how a young man might find a way to lose himself in a role. I don't think it warranted the shift from bleak black and white to full colour but maybe it would have done had it been done right. Unfortunately it wasn't, with poor acting and poor cinematography. In the end this film belongs to William Shatner not William Shakespeare.

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