Despite the insistent quacking of a Brooklynite in between films, the short showcase put on by the Brooklyn Film Festival was an invigorating experience -- a presentation of some truly talented individuals who will likely impress many when their features eventually unfurl.
"Tennis" by Darren Herczeg was first up and we can't imagine a weirder way to start an evening. Short and sweet (the total run time being a scant four minutes), the movie documents a match between two highly aggressive players, sweating and grunting as they slam the ball back and forth. But when one athlete misses his shot, "Tennis" takes a darker turn: soldiers storm the court and prepare him for execution, exhibiting their strict no-loser policy. It's funny through and through, managing to be enjoyable while critiquing the inherent rigid, stuck-up nature of the sport. Like a more sober example of an "Adult Swim" show with its odd sensibilities and quick running time, it'd likely thrive as a viral video, and we wouldn't be surprised if that was the next step for this one. Afterwards, Herczeg mentioned a feature in the works -- one which used this short as the opening scene -- and while the idea could potentially fizzle in a prolonged form, we're definitely interested to see what the filmmaker would do with more room to play with. [B+]
Rather generic and harmless, "Tapperman" is a Swiss comedy about a struggling tupperware salesman (Paul) who can't seem to catch a break -- he can't sell a thing, and his boss' demands that he smile at each customer don't seem to be making any difference. It's a lonely existence for Paul, and it bums him out so much that he doesn't notice the interested eyes of his female neighbor. Eventually, his job somehow gets him stuck inside a coffin, an experience which causes him to enact the big, bold life changes he needs so badly. Alberto Meroni's flick tries hard for laughs -- heck, the tupperware tops make fart noises when they seal -- but it's ultimately too dull and contrived to elicit any chuckles. What's worse is the cute electronica soundtrack, which feels slapped on and forced. Still, "Tapperman" does have some pretty nice imagery, and Meroni gives a somewhat surreal touch to Paul's coffin-entrapment -- it's a creative impulse we wish we'd seen more of in the scripting and direction, but there's always next time. [C-]
Charging out of the gate with motormouth narration and an uppity soundtrack, "Easy Snappin" looks at a young couple, Johnny and Marianne, as they spend their day acting on impulses, attempting a dutiless, freewheelin' lifestyle that is unfortunately cut short when the former's dirty deeds catch up with him. Shot in the midst of last year's Hurricane Irene, there's a pervading sense of desolation within, as if the apocalypse was taking its damn time in annihilating all: sparsely populated areas complete with forlorn gray skies make up the various settings, and if that doesn't leave you in disarray, the filmmaker stages an extended tracking shot around a man explicating end-of-the-world theories. But director David Lombroso remains playful with "Easy Snappin," using jarring soundtrack cuts and a mix of genre styles to show both the charming naiveté of his protagonists and the futility of their behavior. [A-]