Short Film Sunday – Wasp

Title: Wasp

Director: Andrea Arnold

Released: 2003

Length: 26 min

Anyone who has seen Andrea Arnold’s 2009 film Fish Tank will be familiar with her ‘kitchen sink realism’ style of storytelling. The most obvious influence would be Mike Leigh, his gritty style permeates throughout this tale of urban deprivation.

With Fish Tank, Andrea Arnold was able to utilize the considerable acting ability of Michael Fassbender. Whilst she has to make do with Danny Dyer here, it is a pre Football Factory Danny Dyer, back when he was a promising young British actor and he is pleasantly downbeat in a role that could have easily descended into a cockney cheeky chappy cliché.

Natalie Press in the leading role impresses in her first major work and brings the desperation and loneliness of the lower working classes to life. Wasp portrays a woman aching to find a bit of romance and glamour in an otherwise bleak life. Whilst it could be construed as displaying a stereotypical view on the lower classes, Arnold’s short film also has an undercurrent of sympathy rather than judgement.

Wasp is actually included as an extra on the DVD release of Fish Tank and if you liked the latter than the former makes a compelling and fitting companion piece.

12 Years a Slave – 7.5/10.

A free man is abducted and sold into slavery.

6e3f91a852da81d9ddfc2c7d08184bb6

A quite frankly astounding supporting cast (Brad Pitt, Paul Giamitti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Michael Fassbender, Paul Dano) frame a solid but not Oscar worthy performance from Chiwetel Ejiofor. The real stars are Michael Fassbender who froths with indignation one minute and charms the next and relative newcomer Lupita Nyong’o as luckless slave Patsy.

I am not really familiar with Ejiofor’s previous work but he didn’t have enough screen presence and almost faded into the background when up against heavyweights such as Pitt and particularly Fassbender.

One thing that 12 Years a Slave does indicate is the versatility of director Steve McQueen, coming as it does after the vastly different Shame. This will probably win Best Picture but it probably wouldn’t make my top ten of 2013.

IMDB TOP 250 #178

Won 3 Oscars (9 nominations):

Best Picture

Best Supporting Actress

Best Adapted Screenplay