TIFF 2021: Our Review of ‘Short Cuts Programme 03’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Movies, TIFF 2021 by - September 14, 2021
TIFF 2021: Our Review of ‘Short Cuts Programme 03’

A woman, a girl, and a son make up the interesting set of characters in TIFF 2021’s third short programme. Again, there’s a mix of quality here, but together, these shorts form a programme that deals with separation. Let’s begin.

Nesaru Tschaas’ Some Still Search combines two perspectives. The first is a woman in an ICE truck, heading to a detention center before they drive her off to her home country. The second is her young son, finding a new home with two Honudurans staying in the United States. This short differentiates those two perspectives, both still expressing the anguish of people that a state deems ‘illegal’.

Two young brothers are central to the second short, Bhai (which means ‘brother’ in Urdu). One brings out the other to a restaurant in Karachi. He eventually watches as his brother is defenseless to a father who wants him out of the car for inadvertently making one of the latter’s daughters cry. It uses black and white photography and 4:3 ratio do express each brother’s confinement. Criticism has been cruel to this short, not picking up on one of the brothers’ neuro divergent state. Nonetheless, it should have settled on a better ending.

There’s an assumption in hearing that there’s an animation short and the person behind it has a name like Yoriko Mizushiri. But she uses her own minimalistic aesthetic with muted colors to make metaphors out of the human body in Anxious Body.

Ramata-Toulaye Sy presents her dramatic short ASTEL with subtlety. A father teases his titular daughter for being so thin that she’s weak, which she disproves. It then plants seeds about what happens in their relationship. The father tells Astel to eat with her mother while he and the men discuss herding ground in Senegal. Aesthetically, this balances muted colors with vibrant ones. The short uses its vibrant colors to successfully sell a situation filled with sorrow and slight irony. The programme’s best.

Comedy exists to let people live through the worst, which is what Madeleine Gottlieb  in her short Me and You, Before and After. Two friends, both Australian women (Yael Stone, Emily Barclay), go to a tattoo parlor and quasi-joke about their romantic past. I don’t have the list, and keep in mind Gottlieb’s last name, but this has the funniest Holocaust joke I’ve heard in maybe half a decade? Although to be fair, that joke can only be funny in context, but it’s still funny. Great ending too, which I won’t spoil.

Tim Myles’ Little Bird doesn’t fully have the best way to begin its story about a young man, Jonah (Myles) who, out of nervousness, steals his mother’s ashes. The tone isn’t there in that part. But it grows into a good little portrait of contemporary Indigenous life and how both strangers and family can heal together.

Next is a horror show of incongruent animation styles in Ayce Kartel’s I Gotta Look Good For The Apocalypse. The programme’s worst.

Last is another horrific scenario with an execution – ha! – that still makes me flip flop. Nash Edgerton’s Shark has the director and Rose Byrne play, depending on the viewer’s personality, either an adorable couple or an insufferable one who plays pranks on each other and on others. The wedding prank was great, and the point of this is that they up their game until it goes too far on a sea trip. Comedy shorts are usually my jam. I have made up a scenario in which this gets the Oscar, which I already resent. And then I realize how crazy I am for thinking about a scenario that hasn’t happened yet. Either way, I give this a resentful pass. The credits reveal David Michod as a co-writer.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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