The agony of a robot programmed to love. A sweet idea, executed very effectively. I enjoyed this more than Spielberg's A.I. (and not just because the star is cuter than Haley Joel Osment).
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A young boy befriends a homeless man. This was genuinely beautiful. You don't generally see shorts like this without a New Zealand Film Commission logo at the start, playing before some lovely feature at the NZIFF.
This is one of the strangest 48Hours shorts I can remember seeing. If Alejandro Jodorowsky entered the competition, with sponsorship from a list of assorted local eateries and a tie factory, this is the sort of thing I would expect him to produce. The costume budget was genuinely impressive - all manner of bizarre and inventive 'blue avian' aliens. The plot was fairly rudimentary, but that wasn't really the point.
You'd expect big things from this heavy-hitting team (former national grand final winners) and they don't disappoint this year.
Their Criss Angel-esque Morgan Foster from 2014's Mind Creep returns, and this time he has reinvented himself as the Garth Marenghi-inspired host (if Marenghi was played by Matt Berry at his most manic) of a television horror anthology show, introducing a creepy little ghost story. If this film has a flaw, I imagine I would have to watch it several more times to spot it. Definitely one to watch out for in the final.
This was the slickest, most professional film in its heat. But what impressed me more than the visual polish was the well-controlled tone. The main plot - a workplace shooting - played out with genuine menace, which made the incongruity of the relationship drama very funny. It ended on a humorous gag, but something a little more fully realised could have made this a truly impressive entry.
A woman tries to go to the kitchen to get her ungrateful husband a cup of tea, but her malfunctioning teleportation app instead sends her off on a series of madcap adventures. Well written and funny throughout, with some good action beats as well.
A darkly funny morning television show for witches and warlocks. The cast were all great, especially the poor unsuspecting virgin guest.
I think the jingle ('Brings a meal to your cup and your cup to your gob. Om-nom-nom-nom-nommy-nom-nom.') must have been a success, because it's still stuck in my head.
A dirtbag discovers that his terrible choices in life have left him with few prospects for a happy reincarnation. This was a strong concept (although not a good fit with the crime genre, even if they did make passing reference to the character having committed some crimes).
This was a great example of script writing - the perfect level of complexity for a five-minute short. It managed to set up an expectation, subvert it, then twist back for an emotionally satisfying conclusion and a genuinely compelling buddy dynamic. Solid performances by all three of the main cast.
Horror comedy seems like it would be an enjoyable genre to pick, and this team certainly looked like they had fun with it. This story of murder, haunting and possession made great use of some J-horror (or, I guess K-horror in this case) tropes and visual gags.
The plot of this film was somewhat unclear - I followed it well enough to appreciate the twist ending, though. Even with no plot at all, though, it still would have been a joy to watch, as it looked absolutely incredible - very stylish and dreamlike.
An couple's verbal argument is interpreted as a physical fight, through intercut stick-figure animation. I quite liked the concept, and the writing, acting and animation were all competent.
A pair of would-be cat burglars plan to steal an allegedly spoilt rich schoolmate's Christmas present, but perhaps they should have tried a bit harder to find out what they were actually stealing first.
Two rival janitors battle for cleaning supremacy. This school team (from Long Bay College, if I remember correctly) did their school proud with this simple, well-realised, funny film. Reminiscent of Stephen Chow (Kung Fu Hustle, etc). Cute and committed performances from the two leads.
This short had the beginnings of a clever concept, using alien-ness as a stand-in for sexual and/or ethnic diversity to deliver a nice message about tolerance and inclusion in a mockumentary format. The use of social media was especially effective, and the overall effect was quite funny and optimistic. I was a bit unsatisfied that what it actually meant to be an alien was so ill-defined, and it was let down a little by sound issues, particularly towards the end - some more practice will pay off for this school team.
I would also like to know how this film came about. In the old days, when films were submitted on MiniDV tape, this would have been pulled pretty quickly because, ‘Oops, you accidentally submitted your raw footage; who knows how long this could go on for.’ But given that someone had to actually make the choice to output this as we saw it, they presumably either ran out of time in a fairly staggering way, or had some truly epic technical difficulties. At least what they seemed to be going for was in the 48Hours spirit – if you want to just ‘vibe it’ and have a laugh with your friends, then martial-arts action is a good way to go. However, it’s also fun to actually finish what you start.
Fractured Radius’s best and most ambitious effort in years. Inspired by Don Quixote, as the title suggests, but also strong reminiscent of The Fisher King. The genuinely moving twist (yes, it’s contrary to the humorous tone of the majority of the film – that’s why it’s called a twist) was fairly effectively executed, but I think it needed a little more time to really sell it, while the set-up and gag-filled middle could have been tightened up a bit. Excellent work by the cast, particularly Tama Boyle. If he isn’t at least considered for best actor (not to mention best moustache) it will be a travesty.
The unsynched sound was a huge distraction which really made it difficult to engage with this one. Even apart from the sound, it wasn’t especially technically accomplished. The writing was funny, though, and the cast really got into their roles.
Full disclosure: the leader/major component of this team is an old friend of mine, and by a fairly amazing coincidence we both happened to employ a distinctly similar approach to the V48 this year. So I'm probably doubly biased in favour of liking this film. Even so, you really have to credit the audacity of this entry. The puppets and the drawn/created green-screened backgrounds perfectly suited and subverted the kids'-show tone. What was most impressive, though, was the short's infectious energy - it really seemed to connect with the audience. It was very brief - I gather a large amount of material was left out due to time constraints - but the story remained cohesive so who cares about running time?
It was absolutely likeable enough that I wasn't sorry not to be the only puppet team - such a shame we weren't in the same heat.
This was the film I most enjoyed in the heat, and I foresee a lot of potential from this team. They seemed more assured and filmically literate than a lot of young teams. The slapstick sense of humour was reminiscent of Sam Raimi or Bad Taste-era Peter Jackson - not rare in 48Hours, but not every team can actually pull it off with confidence. Finding a fresh take on zombie material is certainly not easy these days, but this story had a pretty original perspective.
Odd coincidence: I used to live in that house about 20 years ago.