Author Archives: dospino

Posts: 14 (archived below)
Comments: 3

Cupid gets a new set of darts and curly hair

It’s hard to imagine a film so cute you could hug it winning a live-action short Academy Award, but that’s exactly what Luke Matheny’s endearing take on the story of Cupid, “God of Love,” did by partnering nostalgic black and white cinematography with a playfully romantic but conniving hero.

Although Matheny is no stranger to winning awards, his previous film “Earano” won a few at various prestigious festivals, his Oscar winning short has been cleaning house in film festivals from New York to Hawaii. The film focuses on Raymond, a darts enthusiast/jazz singer afflicted with a seemingly incurable and unfortunately unrequited love for his band mate, Kelly. He prays for her love when a mysterious package of darts arrives for him at the bar where his band has a residency. The darts possess the power of making someone fall in love, after being stuck with one of course, with the next person they see. The film that follows is a quirky look at how love doesn’t make any sense but most importantly is selfless.

“I was also determined to critique the image of the lovestruck hero,” writes Matheny in a statement about the short on his personal website. He achieves this by presenting Raymond’s awakening from a self-interested lover to a dart flinging cupid. At first Raymond’s interest in love is depicted as shallow, with camera’s looming in the distance and Kelly’s character devoid of any personality; she is isn’t really there because Raymond doesn’t even know her. The black and white coloring of the film also works together with the jazzy soundtrack to highlight Raymond’s fictionalized romance for Kelly.

Raymond finds out abruptly however that love isn’t something that sticks like a dart if it doesn’t come from a place of honesty. Tricking someone can only work for so long before the emotion built up to that moment falls apart and the intentions come to light.

The film tells a well thought out story with humor and a sort of self-mocking goofy director who plays the main character.  “I should have gotten a haircut,” said Matheny as he accepted his golden statue, but his personality both behind and in front of the camera come across so well through those curly locks of hair.

Posted in Independent Film | 3 Comments

“Wasp” stings the heart

I’m there, running in circles with her children, sitting in the back of an old car, walking through a smelly bar, growing more anxious with every frame. I feel hopeless and poor, a wild dog dressed as a child. Andrea Arnold’s exclusive use of the handheld camera, mixed in with some steady cam shots, is incredibly effective when conveying the anxiety of a single mother’s dilemma and her four children’s plight in the short film “Wasp.”

The film is incredibly easy to watch, but hard to sit through. Arnold takes the camera and shoots from the most awkward angles, to help create a sense of overwhelming claustrophobia in the film. In one scene Arnold traps us in the kitchen with desperation taking hold in the children’s eyes who stare at us with unrelenting hunger. Their mother scavenges for food and we join them on the floor and wait for moldy bread or flour.

The film also generates an incredible amount symbolism from otherwise meaningless imagery. Hand drawn paintings hang in the home after we see her lose a fight for them. She’s hungry and weak, but the love is there. On the car ride home a bag flies out the window symbolizing how we don’t appreciate things when we have them. The film is full of these strong images.

The fact that a movie can be this powerful with handhelds and on location shooting is wonderfully inspiring. Who needs two hours and a million dollar budget when something this powerful can be done with the so much care and attention to detail.

Posted in Independent Film | 2 Comments

Alone at the movies

“First I was, afraid I was petrified” is the unforgettable introduction to Gloria Gayner’s “I will survive”, and that is certainly true for me in everything that I do. This was only my second time going to a movie theatre by myself. I showed up at 2:25 to IFC purposefully to slip in and out of the screening of the Oscar Nominated shorts. I self-consciously purchased my ticket and hoped to slip in to theatre one on the ground floor unnoticed by other patrons. “Hold on, I have to clean it first,” said the IFC usher with a neat Afro the size of Jimmy Hendrix’s. My plan was a bust.

I stood by the wall in front of a large poster and saw the couples pouring in from the first beautiful Wednesday we had seen since October.  I twiddled my fingers, contemplated going to the bathroom, and completely missed the organic popcorn popular with my classmates.

I sat down, all alone in a 2:30 showing with pockets of couples and triples scattered throughout the large room. The films started a few moments later and I didn’t know what to expect. I made a short film once and never dreamed that I could submit it to be recognized by the prestigious Oscar critics. Wasn’t that for foreign films or something; apparently not. The films screened were made as close as NYU and this gave me hope. Inspired, I went home and joined the 48 hour film contest which starts this Friday. I hope to do well enough to be submitted to the Cannes film festival. Here is to no such thing as accidents, and dreaming big.

Posted in Independent Film | 2 Comments

Webisodes, More Than TV

A web series is a shorter and cheaper alternative to television and film that numbers in the thousands and can all be seen on the internet, according to Mike Hale in his NYTimes blog post “Watchlist:A New Look at Web Video.”

Hale, who is paid to “spend his days sitting on a couch,” has taken it upon himself to watch every web series recommended to him and post a review of those he deems worthy for his readers.

Two notable series he mentions in his post “Mishaps in Politicking, Single-Parenthood and Finding a Partner,” are “Oh, Inverted World” done by an independent filmmaker and Lifetime’s “Suite 7”.

“Oh, Inverted World” is a series “about your mid twenties and the moon falling into earth,” according their web page. None of the actors are established and the setting is the filmmaker Terrence Krey’s hometown of Amytyville, New York. The shooting is done entirely on location and is shot with what seems like nothing more than a camera and a ludicrous fake beard. As if the beard wasn’t bad enough, the acting is also laughter inducing.

“It seems like they aren’t even trying,” said Ashley Lofters after viewing the first and last episodes.

The plot, which is only revealed after the final scene in the basement, is also unbelievably unrealistic; the moon is going to fall on the earth.

“None of this makes sense,” added Lofters.

“Suite 7,” by contrast looks stylized when compared to the “Oh, Invented World” series. The lighted is moody when necessary and Shannon Doherty’s acting is emotional and believable. The soundtrack’s production value is also much more fitting than the single electric guitar used to create tension in Krey’s series.

“Suite 7,” however does not possess the most attractive quality that “Oh, Invented World” has, a direct link to their intended audience of twenty somethings.

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