The Movie Waffler Shorts Showcase - EVERYTHING WILL BE OKAY / LATCH / THE CHALLENGER | The Movie Waffler


Another trio of recent shorts goes under the TMW microscope.

Reviews by Benjamin Poole (@filmclubchs)

Everything Will Be Okay
Conflict is the theme of this month’s shorts showcase, specifically the frangible discords which abide within families. In the German/Austrian Alles wird gut (Everything Will Be Okay) by Patrick Vollrath, we open on a quiet suburban street. A nervous looking bloke rings the bell of a house, and waits anxiously, until his young daughter answers; their estrangement apparent from the brusque business-like interaction with the girl’s mother. It is clear that the parents are separated, and this is his weekend for visiting rights.
Depending on your acuity, where we slip into spoiler territory will be variable, as the short builds inevitably but purposefully to a devastating dénouement. We can tell immediately though, that for a bloke who clearly loves his daughter, and what’s more is getting to spend some quality time with her, this guy is tense. Vollrath allows subtle hints - the two dash to a department store where the girl is allowed ‘any toy she wants’ (incidentally, have you ever noticed that European toy shops seem solely stocked with Playmobil?), and, edgy, rushing, the father’s parking is ever so slightly off, taking up two spaces. Then he insists that the child has some photos taken in one of the mall’s photo cubicles - but not to stick out her tongue because she has to look ‘neutral’…
As the two make their way to the airport, the emotional story is communicated through Vollrath’s excellent direction of superb lead Simon Schwarz, whose character disintegrates from cheerful and nervy, to crossly impatient, and then finally ending up heartbroken. In the extended aftermath, the hitherto subtlety of Alles wird gut is rightfully abandoned, and the father is unhinged but ultimately pathetic and impotent. It is interesting how Schwarz manipulates our instinctive alignment with protagonists (even when it becomes clear what the father’s endgame is, narrative conditioning demands that we will him on), and our natural, human sympathy; capturing the unholy mess of it all when families split up, and nothing is ever ok. A tense and moving film.

An office worker stays late in North East collective Lovely Lovely Voice’s ghost story Latch. Just an average guy sat at his desk, the only concession to idiosyncrasy the picture of him with his son next to the laptop, his only companion the buzz of the lights and the whirr of the photocopier… until he hears a strange noise coming from somewhere on site. He ventures to investigate the source of the banging, and, after a suspenseful wander about the workplace (an office space upon a building site), a rugby ball slowly rolls towards him from the dark… could it the same ball his son held in the picture? Yikes!
Latch creates a workably scary atmosphere from its evocative setting, and the haunting figure of a huddled figure covered in blue plastic (with accompanying crackles) is especially creepy. It relies a little on crash bang wallop scares, and the daylight setting was slightly distracting for me, but the implications of the short (why is he staying late? Shouldn’t he have a family to go home to?… perhaps not), make this a scary, but also a sad and affecting, short.

The Challenger
The Challenger, Quoc Bao Tran’s calling card short, is everything you’d hope for from a kung-fu quickie designed to attract future funding for a feature length production. Danny (Andy Le) is training in a stylish chiaroscuro lit underground dojo, when along comes Chuck (Ken Quitugua), the titular challenger. The two then proceed to duke it out for the duration of this eight minute short, and how! Tran utilises slo-mo, zooms and close ups to emphasise the action, but the real dynamism of course comes from the balletic, rhythmically choreographed fighting. The energy of this precisely executed conflict is thrilling and exhausting to watch, so here’s hoping that potential financers meet The Challenger. You can watch the film in full below; come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough.
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