Shorts Program 2: Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2012

Reviewed by Linda Lopez.  Viewed at SBIFF.  Metro 4 Theater.

There were five entries in the Shorts Program 2:  “The Dining,” “Odette,” The Arm,” “Lunch Date,” and “Picture Paris.”  All were equally entertaining and full of surprises.

The Dining (Ethan Kuperberg, 2011): USA

It’s a Sunday evening and there’s nothing to eat for dinner except left-over brisket that no one is interested in eating.  What is a family to do?  In most families, the parents decide but in this family, there is a democratic process in place.  The mother (played by Amy Madigan) wants Indian cuisine, the father (Henry Winkler) has a craving for Chinese, two of the three sons are undecided, while the third and youngest son wants Cheerios for dinner.   Ethan Kuperberg, the director, said that the film is  based on a situation within his own family.  Personally, this film reminds me of a Seinfeld episode, i.e., a story about nothing but entertaining.  But, I still wonder if Cheerios had any sticky fingers in this film.

Odette (Nicolas Bacon, 2011): Canada

“Odette” is about a family, a la les miserables, sitting down for dinner on a day where the father lost his job.  His sons follow Papa’s cue and start complaining about their day.  Fittingly, the mother chimes in with her own life’s woes.  The only one not complaining is grandmother Odette, who cooked dinner for everyone.  As the clock ticks, the whinning in the room soon turn to tears, then loud sobs after tasting Odette’s dinner.  They all exclaim that the food is horrible while spitting the food back into their plates.  Calmly, Odette stands up and leaves the dining room.  As she moves, the camera follows her but the lens is only foccussed on Odette from the waist down.  Moments later she returns.

Canadian Nicolas Bacon directed and produced “Odette.”  Actually, Bacon was also the editor, camera man, screen writer, and production designer.   At the Q&A after the film, Bacon admitted that this film is almost autobiographical because his grandmother is like Odette.  Aside, I wonder if anyone remembers the French film, “Tante Danielle?”  That’s who Odette reminds me of.

The film is in French with English sub-titles.

The Arm (Brie Larson, Jessie Ennis & Sarah Ramos, 2011):  USA

“The Arm” is about a teenage relationship confined to communicating by texting.  It is also about high school peer pressure to have a significant other, i.e., going steady.  Face it, many teenagers are still in their awkward stage and are not emotionally mature to be in a relationship outside their own gender.  Thus, texting is a perfect medium/venue for teenagers to avoid face-to-face encounters.  Has anyone noticed that it’s faster to contact a teenager via texting than by calling on a cell phone call?  What’s the problem with talking on the phone?  I still don’t get it.   Back to the plot or the purpose of the film. There is a message in “The Arm,” but you need to see it yourself.  But brace yourself for a surprise.

The directors of the film are three young women:  Brie Larson, Jessie Ennis and Sarah Ramos, who wrote the script on a Greyhound bus ride.  “The Arm” has also been shown at the Sundance Film Festival.

Lunch Date (Sasha Collington, 2011):  UK

“Lunch Date” is a delightful story although it begins sadly when Annabel (portrayed by the director Sasha Collington) is waiting for Thomas, her prince charming, to show up for lunch. Instead, Thomas’s 14-year old brother, Wilbur (Alexis de Vivenot), shows up to tell Annabel that Thomas will not be coming for lunch.

The English director Sasha Collington did a superb job in “Lunch Date.”  Although the plot is rather short, loveable Wilbur is memorable, which makes this film stand out from the rest.  It is a very sweet and endearing film.

“Picture Paris” (Brad Hall, 2011):  USA

The opening scene of “Picture Paris” is narrated by an unknown French man while we see scenes of Paris from a travel book.  Ellen Larson (portrayed by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) is planning a trip to Paris with her husband as soon as their son graduates from high school and leaves for college.  Mrs. Larson is consumed with everything French, from taking French courses to French cuisine.  After sending their son off to college, Mr. Larson tells Mrs. Larson that he’s leaving her.  The only response from Mrs. Larson is, “Who gets Paris?”

Brace yourself for a big surprise!

But, I do wonder why director Brad Hall (Dreyfus’s husband) decided to spend the extra money to film on location?  Why not!  It was well worth it in the end.

About this entry