Published Jun 03, 2010For those that actually like it when people break into song on film when not on stage with instruments, this selection of shorts is the one to see. Most of the titles are simply attempting to liven up mundane stories via the magic of song, but for added measure, there are a couple of films that stand up on soapboxes and preach their obnoxious little hearts out for those that love being told how to think.
Incidental, overlong and surprisingly dull, Dental Breakdown features a bunch of dentists singing about why they became dentists and how they like to inflict pain. It's as if someone in Ireland watched Sweeney Todd and thought, "replacing the barber with a dentist would be hilarious!" I'm still trying to figure out why someone would spend time making this.
Oddly enough, Moore Street Masala also seems like response to a popular film. Only this time it's Slumdog Millionaire getting ripped off via grating Bollywood-style musical numbers taking place in a convenience store. It also comes from Ireland and, from what I can tell, the same studio as the singing dentists. I wonder if they have a Hurt Locker or Human Centipede musical rendition in production. Now those I'd pay to see.
More enjoyable is A4 to A3, which is still sort of like watching a cheap episode of Glee, with less humour, but it brims with sincerity, something the former films are missing. It tells the tale of a copy store boy that falls in love with a Band-aid manufacturing girl. Here, banality is an aphrodisiac. Also banal, but in an entirely different and obnoxious way, is Surfing the Waste, a piece of garbage, ironically, about eating refuse that screened at last year's festival as well. It's basically a bunch of affected youths using the amusing platform of dumpster diving to feel arbitrarily superior to others.
Conversation Piece matches a couple bickering about a chipped vase to Rex Stewart's improvised jazz piece of the same name. I'm sure there is someone out there that will think this is genius, it just isn't me. That said, the timing is impeccable, which shows some filmmaking chops, which can't be said for Phatwa, a desultory little political rant about racism and airport security.
The French short Nice is the most complex and involving of this collection, showing a boy running away from boarding school only to discover that his mother has moved away without him. His quest to figure out what happened is given the musical treatment, to good effect.
If only the same could be said for Savage, a film that easily wins the award for most unintentionally amusing short of the festival. A Cree woman sings a song about the loss of her daughter to the residential school system decades ago, eventually having an awkward emotional breakdown, which is then juxtaposed with a classroom full of children re-enacting Michael Jackson's "Thriller." It shouldn't be funny because it's about something serious, but…