Short Starts is a column devoted to kicking off the week with a short film, typically one tied to a new release. Today we look at the first film directed by Gary McKendry, whose new movie “Killer Elite” opens this Friday.
For his debut feature, "Killer Elite," director Gary McKendry has assembled a very cool cast (Robert DeNiro, Jason Statham, Clive Owen and one of my new favorites, Ben Mendelsohn) for an adaptation of a very hot book, Ranulph Fiennes' "The Feather Men." How does a guy get such a break? In McKendry's case, it surely helped that his previous (and only other) film is an Oscar nominee. The short is titled "Everything in This Country Must," and it's based on a Northern Ireland-set novella by Colum McCann about a teenage girl and her father aided in saving a horse by the British Army. In addition to the Academy Award recognition (it lost the Oscar to Andrea Arnold's "Wasp") this short received awards from the Seattle International Film Festival, the Algarve International Film Festival, the Almería International Short Film Festival, the Santa Barbara Film Festival, the Newport Beach Film Festival and the Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival.
Watching it after the fairly sloppy "Killer Elite" (which is at least messy in an appreciable way appropriate to how convoluted and unending real-life covert world affairs are), I was surprised at how well crafted it is. Contrary to what some might presume, McKendry didn't simply get the Oscar nod because of the subject matter. And honestly, it made me recall the good parts of "Killer Elite," which is mostly everything outside of the action sequences. He's not a great director of action (like much of Hollywood today), but there are no car chases or fights involving Statham strapped to a chair in "Everything in This Country." Both films indicate McKendry has a great handle on the universality and timelessness of certain political themes and stories ("Killer" starts with a joke pertaining to this) as well as the ambiguity of heroes and villains in the real world. I wonder how this might carry over to his next project, a remake of the French casino heist flick "Joseph and the Girl."
Check out the short after the jump. And for more of McKendry's work, from his advertising days, Aero Film has a page showcasing his commercials.