Monday, April 17, 2017

The Narrow World







Today's short film is called THE NARROW WORLD.

This film was written and directed by Brent Bonacorso. To the surprise of no one, I'm not familiar with his work, which, according to IMDB, is three other short films.

Here's the thing with that... at this point, I've been posting quick reviews of Short Films for awhile now. I don't know how many of these things I've watched, but there's a good number of them grouped under the Short Film Label. And as the days and short films pass, my now somewhat reliable lack of familiarity with anyone involved in these films has passed from the reality of a neophyte, to a quirk of the blog, and on into a realm where it now feels more like a strange re-occurrence. Honestly, I guess there's no end to these short film guys, because it's god damn rare that I come across someone where I'm actually familiar with their previous work. In fact, I think it only happened once.

That I can remember, at least.

So, I did a little research. It turns out that Brent has an upcoming feature film called YOU GET ME starring Bella Thorne and Halston Sage, the former is apparently the new Teen Queen It Girl for some reason, and the latter is completely unknown to me, despite the fact that I've seen a couple of movies she's in. Brent has also done some music videos for Elton John and Katy Perry, I guess. Plus, he also did the opening titles for the HBO docu-series THE JINX, which is kind of awesome. So, he's an up and comer, I guess, and getting some respectable work too.

Good for him.

Here's the synopsis: THE NARROW WORLD is the story of a gigantic alien that crashes to Earth and takes up residence in Los Angeles. Contrary to expectations, when the alien is neither hostile towards the tiny humans around it, nor communicative in any way, it falls on the populace to decipher what, exactly, this visitor wants and what it means for them. One man sees more to it- a message, perhaps, that may tell us less about the alien, and more about our deepest inner selves, about the mysteries of the soul.

Sounds profound...



That was all right.

The central idea of a massive and supremely powerful alien life-form landing on the planet and turning out to be neither savior nor destroyer is an intriguing one. I like the idea that its indifferent inaction would make the planet either stew in self-reflection, or lash out angrily. There's some interesting stuff there. I don't think the film actually nails the emotional arc it's aiming for, now maybe that's due to the skills of the actors, maybe it's the juxtaposition with the subject matter or genre, or maybe it's just a victim of the time constraints of a short film--most likely it's a combination of all three--but it doesn't quite land. I appreciate the effort, and it's not like it completely failed or anything either, it just lacks the oomph it feels like they were aiming for, y'know?

Opening with a Shakespeare quote maybe wasn't the best idea. Doing so adds an expectation of depth, one that if you don't deliver--especially with genre stuff--it ends up making you look a little bit pretentious.

So there's that.

The documentary style was a good decision, I think, especially for the creature, but the set design of the two male characters felt pretty generic. That being said, the rest of it looks great. It's shot well, with a good use of the city, and other than the "military attack" sequence, the effects are pretty top notch for the small budget of a short film. The wide shots really work, and probably provide the most emotion for the creature, giving it a nice lonely, melancholy tinge. That really amps up the otherworldly feeling.

One thing, I was confused by the part where the other creatures show up. Did they show up? Or were they just on the way? I couldn't tell if the scene that showed the other creatures was a dream/imagined future type of thing, or if it really happened. The film only showed the single giant robot after that, so it's hard to say.

Ultimately, this is an interesting and impressively done short film, but by shooting for the moon, narrative-wise, and falling short, it's not quite as exciting a watch as you'd want a 15 minute short film to be. I recommend it, but I don't expect many people will want to re-watch it.

Neither destroyer, nor savior,
Jon

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