Author Archives: Elsa

Posts: 15 (archived below)
Comments: 18

Bare Feet And a Bare Butt – Oscar Film of 2005

Let me start with announcing that I totally lost my idea of what a typical Oscar movie is. I used to belie it had to be a stereotypical Hollywood cliche, or have a “good” and serious theme. But apparently I was wrong. This realization came over me when God of Love, the one of all the action short film nominees I  said “can’t win” took home this years Oscar. Whit this chocking piece of news still fresh in mind, it was with no expectation I sat down to watch the winner of this same Oscar category, class of 2005. Let me present to you, Wasp.

When the first thing you see on the screen is a young woman, barefoot and dirty, running down the stairs holding a baby, you know this wont be the most pleasant movie experience. When this woman then is followed by three dirty children, and soon a bare baby’s butt fills the screen, you get your confirmation – this 30 minutes will be rough.

Wasp sure did know how to provoke and chock you. The story in a nutshell was the life of a young single mother and her four children,  living dirt-poor in a British suburb. When the mother meets an old crush, she decides to meet him at a bar – and leave the kids outside to wait.

If the story sounds depressing now, I warn you, it’s getting worse. There will be kids cursing, eating drunk peoples leftovers, and a baby getting a wasp in his mouth. All this time the mother is trying to live a “normal” life, meeting a man at the bar. Offcourse, this will not work out.

The ending of the film finally brings a little light to the life of this tragic family, but who knows for how long. I guess you got a interesting look into the life you hope no one will  have to live with. And I guess there was some hope at the end. All in all, I might understand how Wasp got the price of an Oscar. But then again – who knows what kind of movie that should be.

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Death, Guilt And Why Kids Have To Sin

Young boy's are told to confess. But what if one has never sinned?

The Confession shows no mercy toward the audience. The opening scene of two boys dragging a dead body through a forest is just the beginning of a dark and painful tail of sin, guilt and the confused minds of two catholic boys.

Sam is a 9 year old boy, living a simple and harmless life playing around the cornfields with his best friend Jacob. They go to a catholic school and one day it is time to do their first confession. Sam stares at the list of sins in front of him, and realizes that he has never sinned. Still, he is told to confess, as all “real Catholics” do. His naive mind feels guilt. What is he going to confess? To Sam’s relief, Jacob the “bad boy,” has an easy solution: Together they will do a sin.

But what happens when their little prank turns into a serious accident, leading to the death of three innocent people? How will a young boy be able to live with this new and awfully dark sin haunting the back of his head? Will God really forgive, and make everything go back to normal? Though questions are piled in font of these young boys, and when you think the story could not get any darker, death strikes again. Their world is now turned upside down.

It is not the first time the young director of this film, Tanel Toom (28 years of age) handles the themes of death and religion. In one of his past short films, The Second Coming (2008), a solider is unwilling to accept the death of his brother. One can clearly see a pattern that both of Toom’s films follows, portraying friendship, death and God.

“The Confession” is Toom’s graduation project for his degree in fiction direction at the National Film and Television School in England. Toom himself is Estonian, and most of his previous projects, both films and commercials, are all in Estonian.

The characters in The Confession are quite familiar: Sam, the innocent boy next door, and Jacob, his big mouthed alter-ego friend. Together they are a perfect team, sneaking through the cornfield of a grumpy farmer, riding their bikes and hanging out at their secret spot in the forest. What destroys this idyllic picture of childhood is the dark shadow of death and guilt that seems to follow the boys. Even though they are young and playful, these two friends lay in the forest staring at the sky, talking deeply about life, death and God. They try to figure out the Catholic life they are about to enter.

The Confession will definitely emote some sort of feeling from the audience. The two big motifs in the film, Catholic-guilt and death, provokes and splits opinions. This is also what makes “The Confession” so strong, and what probably made it earn its Oscar nomination for best action short film.

Child-actors can easily destroy even the best movies, but the two boys in The Confession stunned with their performance. For the 26 minutes that this movie lasted, you really got into Sam’s confused head – the torn mind of a child, struggling to choose who to trust: his own consciousness, his best friend, or God.

Posted in Oscar Shorts | 1 Comment

Short Films – No Easy Shortcuts

What do I think about when I hear the word “short film?” Well, let me tell you: It is a very short film, more like a clip. The story is usually either overly “artsy” or ends before it even gets started.

Sure, like probably most people, I know what a short film is. I mean, the words are quite self-explanatory. But when does one actually watch a short film? I have never in my life thought “Today I’ll watch a short film!” And where do you even find short films? Yeah I know – Just google it. But do I really want to watch a max. 30 minute long film on my computer screen? I’m afraid not. In my mind, short films are for the “film elite,” meaning people in the business or just serious film-geeks. For the rest of us less film-educated folks, “regular” movies and TV-series are enough. Or you tell me, am I just bore struck?

Dance scene from the short film "A Mind's Manifest"

My first and only memory of watching a short film is roughly a year ago. As a slave of the internet generation, I used Google to stalk a new-found man of particular interest. After many false leads I somehow ended up playing “A Mind’s Manifest” on repeat. I thought this short movie would give me some sort of deep insight in the life and mind of its creator. This was obviously not the case, and I found myself thinking “What’s the point of this film?”

Later, the creator of this particular short film became a serious part of my life. I admitted my desperate attempt to unveil the meaning of his film and my hesitation regarding short films in general. He replied, “Because short films are sometimes even one minute long, they should convey specific information that pertains to one (maybe two) ideas, with the climax appearing towards the beginning of the movie.” He had suggested that some of the best short films have the most simplistic narratives. I guess that makes sense.

Short films might be short, but they are definitely not the easiest films to understand. And when it comes to me, I guess I just like to have things made the long way.

Posted in Independent Film | 1 Comment

The REEL World

From all over New York City, “The REEL World” is a diverse group of bloggers, ready to share our cultural thoughts with the world. Culture and writing are both part of our everyday life in different ways, and the goal for us is to combine these two ingredients and produce interesting blogs for everyone to enjoy.

So, let me introduce you to us, the witty writers of “The REEL World”:

We have Robert, friendly and folksy. He comes with a couple of more years of life-experience than the rest of us, and will be blogging from Manhattan, the center of it all, filling his blogs with interesting opinions and topics.

Ellen, a Manhattan born girl interested in food, who escaped the noise and crowds of the city to explore the borough of Queens.  Excited about this new start she he quickly became an expert on what her new neighborhood had to offer. Where are the best food-spots, hangouts and discount deals? You name it, and Ellen has the answer.

Elsa, a Finnish girl who moved to New York to experience life as she defines it, has found her home and heart in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. She is a serious “foodie”, and loves everything that has to do with food. She enjoys walking around the city and checks out local bands and art events when she gets the chance. Plenty of her free time is also spent at home in the kitchen or in front of one or two screens – the computer and TV.

Lisa, a creative writer from Bronx, spending her free time skipping through thrift shops and keeping an eye on the local media and the world of film. You might also find her singing karaoke or inspiring teens in her borough to write at a workshop in the library.

Wierzbicki, a native Pole who has lived in America for the past 16 years, will also be blogging from Brooklyn. Wierzbicki has bounced around through three different colleges over six years, so forgive him if he can’t remember whether he’s a junior or a senior. Wierzbicki will cater to sports fans and film buffs in his blog, as sports and cinema, along with Metallica, are some of his principal interests.

In our group we hope to make use of our different locations and interests, and be able to give you readers a broad and interesting cultural look on, not only New York, but the world. Look forward to unexpected approaches to culture, as we bloggers of “The REEL World” will take you on a journey through food, film, music and beyond.

Posted in Who We Are | 2 Comments

Series Online – What Works On The Web?

TV or Computer - Is there a difference?

Slowly but surely everything is moving over to the Internet, even television-like series. This new kind of Web series could be described as a mix of  amateur YouTube videos and high-budget TV series, varying both in quality and context. Mike Hale, a blogger for New York Times raised the question of which is preferable, the “pretty looking” series backed up by sponsors, or the indie version series that could be made by anyone with a camera. I decided to take look and decide for myself.

The first Web series I came across was a black & white production called “Oh, Inverted World.” This series literally screamed “indie” with its unprofessional actors, “hip” language with words like “douche” and a sense of humor directly pointing to a young audience. The concept could best be described as an indie version of a teen-movie (American Pie, Never Been Kissed, etc). Personally I enjoyed this, but I have to point out that “Oh, Inverted World” and series alike are definitely made for the Internet, falling more into the YouTube category of “make-your-own-and-share” videos. If broadcasted on TV, I doubt this production would be able to compete with the “real stuff” a.k.a. the sleek, high-definition  series.

The second series I took a look at was the total opposite of the black & white “Indie-kick.”  “Suite 7,” a selection of clean-looking short films with a professional cast, reminded me of any other show I saw on TV. Although the concept is something that almost everyone can relate to, and even willingly watch, it was nothing new or groundbreaking – a confused man attempts to comfort a sad and emotional woman.  As a Web series I can’t say that this worked so well for me, as it just felt like zapping through your basic TV channels. A fellow student of mine, Lisa Gomez, agreed that the concept lacked originality: “It felt over-dramatic…quite phony to be honest!”

So, what works on the web?                                                                                                Personally I prefer “Oh, inverted World.” Despite its bad acting and corny “teen-movie” feel, the video produced a “rawness” that made it stand out from all the sitcoms you are used to. Maybe it is just me, but if I wanted to watch something like “Suite 7,” I would just turn on the TV. Sure, it works for the mainstream, but I think that audience still prefers watching their series on TV, not on a computer screen. But in the future, who knows?

In the end, it’s all a matter of taste. And now with the internet, why even have to choose?

Posted in Independent Film | 2 Comments