The Movie Waffler Shorts Showcase - IN A TIME FOR SLEEP / INSPIRED / HEIR | The Movie Waffler

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Shorts Showcase - IN A TIME FOR SLEEP / INSPIRED / HEIR

Three more recent shorts come under our spotlight.




Reviews by Benjamin Poole (@filmclubchs)


In a Time for Sleep

The dynamics of human relationships, the love and cruelty that characterise the intensity of such connections, are the major themes of short films, which, in accordance to their circumscribed length, are frequently positioned to capture an emotion or crystallise a moment in time. Accordingly, our first short this month, the Turkish Bir Uyku Vakti (In a Time for Sleep) focuses on not one but two relationships, with the first determined by mistreatment and intimidation, as a young woman, Leyla (Goknur Danishik), has a glum dinner with her boyfriend Arda (Mehmet Fatih Güven) on the occasion of their one month anniversary. There isn’t much cause for celebration as Arda behaves boorishly towards Leyla, chastising her for not ‘fucking him properly’. It isn’t hard to see why she saves her efforts: he’s a pig, a bully, and, before you can say ‘that escalated quickly’, a gun is produced.

The events that follow are a prelude to the film’s second central relationship, this one between Leyla and another woman (Elif Barut), in an affiliation defined by redemption and companionship. Filmed by short auteur Tofiq Rzayev, Bir Uyka Vakti takes a simple, intense situation and creates powerful, empathetic drama from it. In his imdb entry, Rzayev professes to Kubrick as an inspiration. He certainly shares Stan’s elegant framing and attention to detail – there is a burial sequence here that chills with its scrape of spade against rock and spectral white lighting courtesy of a car’s high beams - but further to this inspiration, Rzayev forgoes Kubrick’s characteristic coldness, instead forging warmth from human emotion hard won in the heat of hardship.





Inspired

There’s more adversity to be found in the rather sweet Inspired, a true story set in the high school world of female basketball, written and directed by Maggie Kaszuba. Sam (Tyler Kipp) is desperate to make the team, but finds it hard juggling the pressures of high school, let alone the three second area. ‘Life isn’t fair, get over it’, her coach (Ariane M. Reinhart) bluntly tells her as Sam’s late for practice, and, even though Coach Stafford seems like a real piece of work, one does think she’s got a point. However, as her anxiety reaches dangerous peaks, Sam indeed does not get over it, and attempts suicide. But is her coach harbouring a secret that could put Sam’s worries on the baseline?

The mentor/student relationship Inspired portrays is poignant and all the more moving for being based in fact. This short’s success will depend on how far you’ll accept high school sports as important and emblematic of real life struggle, but overall, Inspired is a touching and rousing film.



Heir

And so we come to Heir. Man alive, Heir. This time the central relationship is that of a father and his pre-teen son, played by Robert Nolan (Gordon) and Mateo D'Avino (Paul), but this is a fraternal affiliation of the darkest kind. The short opens with Gordon sitting in shadows at a computer, symbolically photoshopping his wife out of a picture of Paul, and sending the edited image to a person with shared interests: the subject line reads, ‘My Son… Playdate JJJ?’. I am of a kindly nature, and it was at this point that my instinct was to turn off the Vimeo link, and only professional duty encouraged me to keep on watching what must surely be the most unpalatable horror short of the year.

Gordon and the naïve Paul travel across state to meet up with another nonce, Denis (Bill Oberst Jr.), leading towards a body horror allegory that is not for the nervous. The older men’s perversions are related by physical mutations; the blunt symbolism of hands that ooze sticky pus, and penile tentacles that burst from beneath their skin. ‘It’s beautiful when you realise what you really are’, Denis purrs, as he literally sheds his skin to reveal the monster beneath. Luckily, before anything too horrible can happen to Paul, Gordon sees the true terror of what he could become and attempts to escape with his son, but has his turnabout come too late?

With his bad hair and stark expression, Nolan is sleazy and completely believable, while Oberst Jr also impresses as the terrifying Denis. Writer/Director Richard Powell ensures that there is no sensationalism of the subject matter, but I did wonder: do we really need to see wrong uns with tentacles to position the idea that child abuse is perpetrated by monsters? Taken on genre merits, however, Heir is insidiously filmed, convincingly acted and truly, utterly horrific. Be warned.




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