Combustible Celluloid
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With: Alonzo Bodden, Reggie De Morton, Jerod Mixon, Rodney Perry, Larry B. Scott, Adolphus Ward, Bill Moseley, Mark Boone Jr., Christopher Mur, James Aidan McCaffrey, Jonathan Furr, Ben Allison, Ron Perlman, Steve Hosford, Steven J. Warner
Written by: Casper Frank, Derrick Scocchera, Mitchell L. Cohen, Aaron Schneider, Steve Hosford, Steven J. Warner
Directed by: Casper Frank, Talia Raine, Derrick Scocchera, Mitchell L. Cohen, Aaron Schneider, Steve Hosford
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: -99
Date: 03/19/2013

Five New Short Films (2007)

0 Stars

Short and Sweet

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Business Johnson ***
It's too bad more short films aren't built around the concept of telling a joke. In this 7-minute wonder by co-directors Casper Frank and Talia Raine, six black men (Alonzo Bodden, Reggie De Morton, Jerod Mixon, Rodney Perry, Larry B. Scott and Adolphus Ward) ranging all over the map in size and age, sit on the porch shooting the breeze. One decides to tell a joke (about a man with one ear) but must contend with endless questions and other interruptions. The joke itself isn't great, but I admired the speed and energy of this film. (See the IMDB Page.)

A Perfect Place ***
I used to rent laserdiscs from Derrick Scocchera, who went off with fellow "Laser Cinema" clerk Ian Hendrie in the late 1990s to form Fantoma Films, one of the better DVD distributors out there today. Now they've made their movie debut with this atmospheric, black-and-white short, starring Bill Moseley (Army of Darkness, Grindhouse) and Mark Boone Jr. (Batman Begins). These actors play a couple of lowlifes who, after a disagreement in a not-so-friendly card game, wind up with a bloody body on the floor. They decide to dispose of it, but must first grab shovels, borrow a neighbor's car and find a "perfect place" to do the deed. The film looks and sounds great, and it's wonderful to see these two recognizable character actors in lead roles, but I'm afraid the ultimate payoff was a bit too obvious. (See the Fantoma Home Page.)

Peter's Price ***1/2
Mitchell L. Cohen's brilliantly crafty 20-minute short starts with a completely credible sleight-of-hand before delving into its story of two former school chums, one a successful bank manager, Peter (Christopher Mur) and one a thug, Jake (James Aidan McCaffrey). Jake tries to mug Peter, when the latter recognizes the former. They go out for a meal and talk about the nature of "selling out." But, like all good shorts, it has a whopper of an ending up its sleeve. An impressive musical score, solid production values and good

Two Soldiers **1/2
At the dawn of the United States' entry into World War II, a young farm boy (Jonathan Furr) runs away to the city to find his older brother (Ben Allison), who has gone off to enlist. Writer/director Aaron Schneider adapted William Faulkner's short story into this 40-minute film and won a 2003 Oscar (Best Live Action Short) for his trouble. It's a grab bag of different styles, cribbed from all sorts of other movies; it slides from quirky comedy to glossy nostalgia and family drama with no consistent tone or idea. The score by Alan Silvestri (Forrest Gump) is typically over-the-top. But certain moments by themselves contain small lovely nuggets, and the creepy, granite-faced Ron Perlman lends the film some weight as a colonel. Westlake released the DVD, which comes with several commentary

Whitebread and Goatman ***1/2
I should start with the disclaimer that writer/co-star Steven J. Warner is one of my oldest and dearest friends, but also, I've always been quite open with him as to which of his videos and films I've liked and which I haven't. This one I liked, a great deal. The entire short consists of two shady-looking characters, Goatman (Warner) and Whitebread (director Steve Hosford), waiting for an unseen contact, who will presumably deliver some sort of "product." It's late at night -- or very early in the morning -- and the film has a vivid witching-hour feel, like that great line in Martin Scorsese's After Hours, about how "different rules apply." The dialogue is funny and imaginative, with appropriate beats and pauses added for reflection, and the performances are top-notch. I wish I could say more, but I'd be giving away the film's surprise, which fooled me completely. Seek this one out.

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