Short Film Showcase 2020 #2

Here is another batch of great short films. We start off with Rakka, a short piece made by director Neill Blomkamp (District 9). This serves as both a piece of world building and a proof of concept for a potential larger film or series. The production value here is quite high.

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Single Location Movies

Right now, many of us are stuck inside our homes for the foreseeable future, and it can seem like an incredibly dull place. Movies have repeatedly shown us how even one tiny room can hold great stories within. Here are some movies that use small spaces to tell tense and exciting stories.

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Movie Review – Rashomon

Rashomon (1950)
Written by Akira Kurosawa & Shinobu Hashimoto
Directed by Akira Kurosawa

This is a classic, and Akira Kurosawa is a legend. But you might be wondering how this film qualified as a Hope in the Midst of Darkness entry. It’s a pretty bleak movie that relies on the unreliable narrator trope. This leads to a relatively dark interpretation of humanity by the characters in the framing device. I am here to argue that Rashomon is an intensely optimistic movie that is attempting to overcome the audience’s assumed pessimism. It’s also a film masterpiece and a piece of cinema whose influence continues to ripple out into movies today, across the planet.

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Movie Review – Some Like It Hot

Some Like It Hot (1959)
Written by Billy Wilder & I. A. L. Diamond
Directed by Billy Wilder

Billy Wilder, as previously established, authored or at least refined many of the comedic subgenres in mainstream American cinema. Some Like It Hot takes classic tropes from authors like Shakespeare with the protagonist in disguise as another gender who is in love with another character and modernized them. Some Like It Hot is set in the 1920s, but its story is a classical one seen through the 1960s’ eyes while reflecting back across literature. There are definitely some problematic issues when viewed through the context of our modern gender progressive era. Additionally, it is a genuinely entertaining and influential piece of film.

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Movie Review – The Seven Year Itch

The Seven Year Itch (1955)
Written by Billy Wilder and George Axelrod
Directed by Billy Wilder

Watching these later works by Billy Wilder feels like if David Fincher went from doing dark thriller movies to working exclusively in light comedies. They aren’t bad, but they are definitely not as strong as the earlier work. The Seven Year Itch is another film based on a stage play, and it feels like through the first half. It’s slow, and the main character thinks aloud constantly, which gives away the stagey-ness of the production. Throughout the film, I kept thinking of Mad Men and how this picture was pretty dated with its portrayal of marriage.

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Movie Review – Sabrina (1954)

Sabrina (1954)
Written by Billy Wilder, Ernest Lehman, and Samuel A. Taylor
Directed by Billy Wilder

Sabrina is not my favorite Billy Wilder film. I’ve never been a big fan of the romantic comedy, but compared to modern fare in that genre, Sabrina is a masterpiece. This feels like the ur-text of romantic comedies, all of the serendipitous tropes and plot contrivances to work towards a happy ending. The plot couldn’t be more simple, but that is to the film’s favor, keeping the cast pared down so that time is spent developing core relationships. There are side characters that exist to provide comedic relief. It’s all very fluffy & light, a great tasting meal of cotton candy.

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Movie Review – Stalag 17

Stalag 17 (1953)
Written by Edwin Blum & Billy Wilder
Directed by Billy Wilder

It’s strange to say that Billy Wilder’s film about Americans in a Nazi prisoner of war camp is the most light-hearted of his movies I’ve watched so far. But that is most definitely the case. I almost wonder if Wilder took a step back from the bleak tone of his previous work, especially after Ace in the Hole was received so poorly by American audiences. Stalag 17 is much more of a “cheer for the heroes” type of film, but Wilder still manages to make the main protagonist buck conventions.

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