Short Film Sunday – New Boy

Title: New Boy

Director: Steph Green

Released: 2009

Length: 11 min

Whilst New Boy has the slight air of a stereotypical Oscar bait film (and it was of course nominated) this cautionary tale of race and not judging a book by it’s cover is still charming and heart warming. Despite a dark undercurrent the setting of a classroom filled with cheeky Irish children ensures that the tone remains cheerful throughout.

Whilst the message and themes portrayed here are nothing new, the execution makes New Boy worth watching and a cast mostly made up of children cope well with occasionally difficult subject matter.

I didn’t really enjoy New Boy enough to seek out more of Steph Green’s work and I found the message a little heavy handed but at 11 minutes it is a nice easy watch.


Short Film Sunday – Curfew

Title: Curfew

Director: Shawn Christensen

Released: 2012

Length: 19 min


Shawn Christensen writes, directs and stars in this Oscar winning short film about loneliness, family and redemption. Curfew opens with Richie sitting in the bathtub having just split his wrists. He receives a call from his sister begging him to look after his niece, a moral dilemma…

Christensen is excellent as the beleaguered protagonist and questions about his past are left vague enough to keep things interesting. In 19 short minutes the likeable Christensen has the audience rooting for him and the ending is emotional without feeling forced or contrived.

Not content with writing, acting and directing the damn thing, Christensen also wrote and performed the song that plays over a seminal and beautiful dance sequence in a bowling alley. Indeed the soundtrack is in general very good with Alex Ebert’s (of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zero’s) beautiful track Truth fitting perfectly over the end credits.

Curfew has been my favourite of the Short Film Sunday series so far and it is easy to see why it won an Oscar back in 2013. Christensen turned this short into a critically acclaimed film titled Before I Disappear.


Short Film Sunday – Just Me in the House By Myself

Title: Just Me in the House By Myself

Director: Jack Dishel

Released: 2015

Length: 5 min 11 sec

Just Me in the House By Myself is the first in a series of short films under the umbrella DRYVRS. Each episode will feature actor/director Jack Dishel being picked up by a different UBER style driver. In this episode Dishel finds himself in a car with a monstrous caricature of Macauley Culkin playing a grown up version of Kevin McCallister from Home Alone.

The fast cuts and Culkin’s leering, unnerving smile and scattershot speech make for an extremely odd experience. There is a hint of jet black humour under the veneer of child abuse and loneliness which does just enough to keep things engaging.

Culkin is clearly a troubled and strange soul, his most recent venture before this was a band called The Pizza Underground,who do Velvet Underground covers but about pizza, so it is actually quite nice to see him poking fun at his most famous role rather than hiding from it.

Coming on the 25th anniversary of Home Alone there can be no more bizarre way to honour that classic film than watching Just Me in the House By Myself.

Short Film Sunday – The Big Swallow

Title: The Big Swallow

Director: James Williamson

Released: 1901

Length: 1 min 07 sec

I was introduced to The Big Swallow after it featured briefly in Steven Soderbergh’s excellent hospital period drama The Knick. In the episode two characters watch the film through a looking glass and express amazement at the man in the film as he seemingly eats the camera.

The Big Swallow is a seminal piece of work as ‘one of the first to deliberately exploit the contrast between the eye of the camera and of the audience watching the final filmaccording to BFI online.

Looking back now, the lines between fun and horror were incredibly blurred in Victorian times as these photo’s testify. The Big Swallow was supposed to be a comedy short upon it’s release in 1901 but it’s unnerving jerky camera and unusual subject matter make it feel more surreal in the present day, Lynchian even.

To give some context as to how different the world was back in 1901, The Big Swallow‘s main actor Sam Dalton also appeared in a short film entitled Sambo where he employed ‘black face’.