On the second day of the KC Film Fest, I was able to attend two events: a feature and a shorts program. Here are my reviews:
Pete is a a player whose life consists of picking up girls at bars, going to his boring office job, and repeating the cycle the next day. Occasionally accompanied by his much less experienced pal Tony, Pete hits up the St. Louis bars with his well-honed spiel designed to get to as many girls as possible. One day he meets a girl, Stephanie, who seems a little different. Straying from his philandering ways, Pete realizes that she is worth taking things slow for and begins a real relationship with her. Things are going swimmingly until she discovers Pete’s womanizing past. She abruptly cuts him off and ends the relationship. Peter finds himself in a position he’s never been in before and tries to express his feelings in increasingly creepy ways.
As much as I wanted to like this film, I really couldn’t. It tried to be part comedy, part suspense, but it fell short on both counts. I can’t say too much without spoiling the plot, but the action really petered out. The last scene tried to come full circle, revealing a small twist that could be guessed early in the movie. Additionally, some of the dialogue seemed forced. I caught myself thinking, “no one says that in real life.” The main character is a real Nip/Tuck Christian Troy type, but I couldn’t connect with him.
The entire film was captured on digital SLRs (Canon 5Ds and 7Ds, according to director/writer Bowls MacLean) in St. Louis (the City Museum plays a large role in the film) over approximately 30 days of shooting. The entire budget was between $5,000 and $10,000 and a high percentage of that was raised on crowdfunding site IndieGoGo. The filmmakers do a great job of varying lenses, giving the view a variety of shots: shallow depth of field, long-distance shots, even the occasional fish-eye. I also enjoyed the editing; Love Stalker is fast-paced through the beginning, and I loved the quick cuts around Pete’s environment (especially when the shots explain his daily bar/sleep/shower/work ritual).
In the end, I enjoyed the production, but I was put off by the acting and story. The premise was a twist on the traditional romantic comedy, but I don’t think it went as far as it could have. The concept was an interesting one, but I could see it better served as a 30-minute short. Stretched it to a feature length, it kind if ran out of steam.
Love Stalker has a second screening at 12:30 on Sunday at Ward Parkway 14.
Easy Life (shorts program)
Life is Beautiful – This short is a beautifully simple film about Natalie, an attractive young toll collector who seems to relish every interaction she has throughout the day. She meets many people, and at the end of the day, she imagines herself driving away with one of them. It has very little dialogue and the entire four-minute short is accompanied by piano music. It was incredibly simple, but I loved it.
A Senior Moment – Easily my favorite short of the evening, this six-minute comedy shows that you’re never too old to send awkward text messages. One woman in a retirement home receives her first text from Ernie on the other side of the room, asking if she is going to Bingo. She consults her friends to compose a response, and her efforts not to be “too forward” end with a hilarious result. I don’t want to spoil it, because I would recommend seeing this short. It made the entire theater laugh.
Pensou – Do the Good – In this Indian computer-animated short, Pensou, a “flamboyant and useless” pencil dances and shows off on a desk, much to the chagrin of Rubby, the eraser, who erases the doodles Pensou left on a piece of paper. This provokes Pensou, and he dances even more until he breaks his lead. Rubby calls on Sharpie, the pencil sharpener, who fixes Pensou, sings a song, and helps convince Pensou that he should use his potential for good (writing) instead of squandering it (doodling). I am a huge fan of Pixar’s shorts and Pensou somewhat resembles them. I’m sure some of the dialog was lost in translation, but it was a fun little piece that shares the Ghandian principle of being the change you want to see in the world.
Another Dress, Another Button – This fantastic stop-motion short was created by local filmmaker Lyn Elliot, and shows what leftover buttons from shirts and dresses do when they aren’t being used. As soon as their owner leaves the room, this forgotten collection of buttons come to life, dancing in fun patterns and playing games (Duck, Duck, Goose and Pong seem to be their favorites). Their fun ends, however, when the owner comes back and they file back into their bowl. This amazingly simple and enjoyable film is extremely well done, reminding me of Marcel the Shell, but more complex.
Wana Dubie’s War – Chief Wana Dubie (that’s his legal name) is a marijuana proponent in Cooper Hill, Missouri, and this documentary describes his efforts to legalize pot and secede from the United States. In 1993, after hearing about the War on Drugs, the Chief (formerly Joseph Bickell) wrote a Declaration of Independence in which he seceded from the nation, changed his name, and declared war on the United States because he believed the country “declared war” on him. Next, he established the Cooper Hill Pot Party (his version of the Boston Tea Party) and invited the world to plant marijuana. A few months later, the police showed up, uprooted his plants, and arrested the Chief. He served five years in prison and has since run for Missouri House of Representatives and plans on running against Roy Blunt for the US Senator position in 2016. This documentary covers an extremely interesting individual, interviewing neighbors, friends, and government officials. Well done, this short is a factual presentation of Wana Dubie’s efforts and the government’s response to him.
Busted Walk – In this 13-minute short, we are introduced to boy walking through the city with his dad, out of school on a suspension for possessing marijuana. One of his legs is disabled, but proves to his father that he can still bend over to pick up items off the ground. At the same time, we meet a girl bringing home groceries who later does drugs in a bathroom stall. These two plot lines never intersect, and I felt like I saw two contextless snippets into the two parties’ lives. Maybe it is above me, but I felt lost.
Incest! The Musical – Alex is the popular guy, the class president, and Katie, his sister, is the valedictorian. Prom is coming up and everyone has their dates figured out except Alex, who has suddenly developed feelings for Katie. The plot follows to a predictably outrageous outcome. Oh, and did I mention this is a musical? The whole thing unfolds through remarkable catchy songs. This satire of Glee and High School Musical (Ryan and Sharpay, anyone?) takes an odd topic and makes the most of it. Much laughing and head-shaking was done.
Easy Life was a great collection of shorts. From beautiful to hilarious to fun, the program squeezes in a variety of shorts and leaves you smiling. If you missed it, check out a second screening at 4:35 on Sunday at Mainstreet 6.