The Movie Waffler Shorts Showcase - THE SHAMAN / TOTAL PERFORMANCE / THE CLEANER | The Movie Waffler


We check out another trio of recent shorts.

Reviews by Benjamin Poole (@filmclubchs)

The Shaman
Writer/Director Marco Kalantari’s The Shaman immediately overcomes the viewer with its thrilling and breathless barrage of grungey, post-apocalyptic images and kinetic film making, plunging us directly into the front lines of a violent sci-fi war scenario. Blue lights swell, bombs cascade, and the soundtrack surges with the screeching of manic violins, before the intertitle informs us that the year is 2284 (three hundred years to the date after Orwell’s gloomy prophesy), and mankind is locked in a ruinous war with machines which has raged for over 70 years, leaving earth the sort of dark dusty husk that even Max Rockatansky would balk at. Our only hope are the liminal Shamans; holy men with the ability to move any mountain and pass into the netherworld where all souls commune; and, as is traditional to Shaman lore, in the universe of this short film, every object has a soul, even the battle colossi that ravage the world. Can our hero (Danny Shayler) overcome this metaphysical enemy and convert its soul to the good?
The Shaman’s heady mix of magic, science fiction and good old fashioned war film is impressively exciting, and the scope and ambition of this short is awesome in the truest sense of the word. The palpable and timely allegory of a holy war being played out in a battle ravaged desert, which is pointedly illuminated by rapidly falling artillery, is also interesting. The Shaman’s 17 minutes pass in a vivid blur of incorporeal adrenaline, so perhaps there isn’t quite enough time to do the film’s mind bending concepts proper justice, but I look forward to what Kalantari conjures with a full length feature.

Total Performance
There’s extra meta fun to be had in the (ostensibly) more light hearted rom com, Total Performance. The central premise has Cori (Tory Berner) working for a casting agency which employs actors to perform opposite real people, hiring them in order to rehearse potentially difficult conversations - so if you’re, say, a boss that doesn’t quite have the mettle to sack an employee, Cori will play the patsy for you to practise on. What a brilliant idea: and if the whole business of making films doesn’t work out for Total Performance’s writer/director Sean Meehan then he should probably market this intriguing concept. On the strength of Total Performance though, Meehan needn’t be rushing off to the patent office just yet. The short has some lovely rom-com notes, courtesy of Tina Fey-esque Berner, and a creeping sense of suspense as the short progresses and Cori is eventually hired unbeknownst by the guy she’s started seeing, Tim (Steven Conroy). Tim can’t quite break it off with his present beau, and so Cori has to play both betrayer and betrayed for him. An intriguing and original take on the dynamics of modern relationships.

The Cleaner
There’s more young love put to the test in Tofiq Rzayeu’s The Cleaner. A youngish couple, apparently in the early throes of their relationship - sleeping together, but not entirely au fait with each other - smoke and eat birthday cake, until Fatih (Mehmet Fatih Güven) receives a call offering him work within his job as a freelance cleaner. Unknown to the woman (Alsen Buse Aydin), Fatih’s cleaning job involves more bang bang than Cillit Bang, as the ‘cleaning’ he does is strictly within the remit of hitman for mob boss Erhan Sancar. The Mafioso’s own romantic life is in turmoil, fuelled by suspicions of his wife’s infidelity. Can Fatih complete this final job and break his one rule, which is to never harm women?
Rzayeu’s film making is beautiful and poetic, using the Turkish countryside of orange rocks, dry scrub and far oceans as an unforgiving backdrop for his brutal morality play. Another wonderful short from Rzayeu, who once again devastates and delights.

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