Close Your Eyes (2022)

May 14, 2022, Short 20

This one was just 3 minutes and 44 seconds long, but it did a fantastic job of scaring me and making me feel uneasy.

When musician Vincent (Vinny Balbo) finds his roommate (David Illy Bennett) standing at the front door, eyes closed with his ear up against the door, and not saying anything, he was confused. When his roommate told him that he was listening for secrets from her, Vincent was even more confused, but he did the same to see what he could hear. He heard nothing, but that did not mean that there was nothing there.

This was really solid and creepy. I was very impressed with the story and the characterization for such a short film. And then, what we see, was nightmare inducing for sure.

I thought this was really well done and I would love to see more from it. This is also found on YouTube.

Don’t Look Away (2017)

May 14, 2022, Short 19

Boy, this was a tale of two halves.

Savannah (Sabrina Twyla) is putting up with her brother Jim (Danny Roy) while she waited for her father (Jim Marshall) to come home. When she happened to look out the window, she saw a strange hooded figure standing in her yard staring at her. Her father called and she told him about it and he began to panic, telling her to “Don’t look away.”

Jim came into the room and also started looking at the man. Savannah went to lock up but when she got back, she could not see the man any more despite Jim claiming that it was still there. Suddenly, the man was standing directly behind Savannah.

Okay, so this was where this short horror film had me. I was invested in the story, simple as it was, and I was curious what this man was. It looked creepy as heck so it was doing a great job of building my tension.

Then things derailed quickly. She tried to cover its face with tape. It tried to tear out her eyes and Jim had to help pull it off her. Oh, and by the way, in the room, the thing just stood there and did not attack her until she turned her back to call her dad. WHY WOULD SHE TURN HER BACK? I yelled that at the screen. It was the stupidest thing to do. Then the father returned and got rid of it easy-peasy.

However, the acting from this point on, especially from the father, was so wooden and difficult to believe, it really took me out of the film. I hated the way the last half of this short was written and how it was executed. It took a situation that I was engaged in and made it into a ridiculous one that I was rolling my eyes at.

Not sure how to rate this because I was really enjoying this at the start, but it just went completely into the ground. I guess…

Teddy (2019)

May 14, 2022, Short 18

We returned to the Amateur Hour Films YouTube page for another of the Wangers’ creative horror shorts. This time, the film is entitled Teddy.

We have Cody Hall once again as out lead character. He played Nate who was trying to get some kind of strange creature home. He was being followed by John (Brian Perez) who wanted to return the creature to wherever it was that they took it in the first place. It seemed as if John and Nate found the creature together and decided to turn it in, but Nate realized that the creature was more than just some monster.

Once again, the tone and mood of the piece are wonderfully built thanks to the spooky lighting (which had to be a challenge to film) and the mysterious creature inside the carrying case. The score worked again extremely well to help create that feeling of dread and anxiety. Marzona does a great job with the scores on these Amateur Hour Films.

The Wangers do a great job of not trying to explain too much. They give us what is needed and allow us to form the rest in our heads. That may be a function of budget but it works well for them.

The Good, The Bart and The Loki (2021)

May 14, 2022, Short 17

I was looking through the Simpsons shorts on Disney + and I came across the short with the Marvel characters involved and I knew that was the next Saturday Short.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is once again banished from Asgard, but this time, he is banished to Springfield. He meets up with Bart and they immediately begin bonding over their similar family issues. However, Lisa winds up with the power of Thor and she brings the Springfield Avengers to confront the Trickster God.

One of the best jokes in the short was a sign being held by one of the Springfield Avengers that read “This is what happens when Disney buys Marvel and Fox.” LOL.

There are also a couple of mid-credit scenes involving Loki and the Hulk and then Loki with the TVA. Both are funny.

The overall short was fine. It is about what you would expect from a team up between the Simpsons and Marvel.

The Gunfighter (2014)

May 14, 2022, Short 16

Okay, found another fantastic short.

This time it is a Western entitled The Gunfighter.

It is a story of a mysterious stranger who comes into an old Western saloon for a drink and trouble starts to happen. Sounds pretty unoriginal right? You’ve seen that a million times. Well, there is one major thing that changes this around.

There is a narrator. It is the voice of Mick Offerman, actually, and he is narrating everything that is happening. Again, not uncommon, right?

Except, everyone in the saloon can hear what the narrator is saying.

The narrator is all-knowing and is telling everyone in the saloon the inner thoughts and the deepest secrets of everyone.

This was an absolute hoot. The reactions of each character to the voice’s revelations of their inner monologue was hilarious and worked so well. It gave us some great character moments in a film that lasted under nine minutes.

Nick Offerman was perfect as the omniscient voice and the cast of the other characters played their roles to a tee. Others in the cast included Shawn Parsons, Eileen O’Connell, Jordan Black, Brace Harris, Timothy Brennan, Scott Beehner, Circus-Szalewski and Keith Biondi.

Totally clever, remarkably funny and strikingly original. The Gunfighter was a ton of fun. You can watch it on YouTube.

Audible (2021)

May 14, 2022, Short 15

Audible was one of the nominated films this year at the Academy Awards in the category of Best Documentary Short. Although it did not win, the doc was extremely well done and brought attention to a world that I know I knew little about.

The film followed football player Amaree McKenstry-Hall, who played his high school football at the Maryland School for the Deaf. What a fascinating position this film placed the audience in. There were nearly no speaking within the film, and the film used sign language to show how the students and staff at the school would communicate. The captions on the film provided the information to the audience, but it still felt isolating, which I think was the purpose.

The story included the tale of one of Amaree’s best friends who had committed suicide after moving away to attend a hearing school.

The challenges faced as Amaree and his classmates reached their senior season, dealing with the loss of a friend and the first defeat at a football game that the high school had suffered were all very difficult and the movie showed how strong of a person Amaree was.

Some of the football scenes were disjointed and did not tell the story of the games (especially the Homecoming one, which was the final game of Amaree’s career) very effectively.

Still, much of the story is inspirational and shows how you can overcome just about anything life throws at you if you approach it with the proper mental toughness.

This documentary short can be viewed on Netflix.

If Anything Happens I Love You (2020)

May 14, 2022, Short 14

This one was a kick in the gut. How come animation can hit those emotions in such an effective manner because it always seems as if the most powerful moments come from animation.

If Anything Happens I Love You tells the story of a husband and wife who have lost their daughter in a school shooting and are struggling to come to grips with their grief. The husband and wife are pulling apart with their anguish and they are slowly separating. They have their shadows that are revealing their true thoughts and feelings as well as those of their lost daughter.

It is a sad truth that many couple who have lost a child wind up tearing apart instead of grieving together. Why that is the case is hard to say, but clearly the human being need something to make sense out of a tragedy such as this and maybe it is too easy to blame another.

However, there are those that can overcome the anger and hard feelings to the point where they are able to face their grief together, much like what happened in this beautiful animated film.

The animation was exquisite, perfectly illustrating the process of grief and the ways memories can either bring together or pull apart.

If Anything Happens I Love You is powerful and beautiful. It won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short and it was well deserved. You can catch it on Netflix.

Ghosts of Sugar Land (2019)

May 14, 2022, Short 13

Ghosts of Sugar Land is the first documentary short watched during the Saturday Short binge and it was found on Netflix. It was a story of betrayal. A story of religious persecution and radicalization of certain individuals.

The doc was about a man named “Mark” who was a black man hanging out with a group of Muslims until he disappeared into Syria. His friends, wearing superhero masks to hide their identities, speculate about their friend and about what may have been going on with him.

Truthfully, that is about all this doc does. It has this group of people try to guess what Mark did and why he did it. Some speculation had Mark as an FBI spy/informant undercover. Other speculation indicated that he became radicalized some time after his college graduation.

There is not a ton of real facts available in the doc. The final black screen tells us info on what happened to Mark but we never do find out anything about why he did what he did. I’m also not sure of the reason for the masks because the film does give us the real name of Mark at the end so if anyone wanted to figure out who they were, I would think it would be an easy job.

Some of the stories were interesting, but Ghosts of Sugar Land does not seem to go anywhere and come to any real conclusions about its topic.

West Bank Story (2005)

May 14, 2022, Short 12

Wow, did I love this.

A parody of West Side Story and the Israeli-Palestinian ongoing conflict? There is no way that was going to work. Except it did. Amazingly well. So well that it received an Oscar for Best Live Action Short.

West Bank Story was a musical comedy set on the West Bank between dueling falafel restaurants, The Hummus Hut and The Kosher King. Israeli soldier David (Ben Newmark) met the beautiful Palestinian cashier of her family’s falafel restaurant, Fatima (Noureen DeWulf) and they fell in love despite the dueling nature of their family’s businesses and the anger and resentment that existed between them.

Everything about this hits the mark. The music is wonderful, with a flavor of both styles throughout. The comedy was sharp and on target, skewering both sides equally. The acting was spot on among the entire ensemble.

This was directed by Ari Sandel and it is such a wonderful film, you should search this one out. I found the whole film on YouTube and I was thoroughly enthralled with it from the first note.

Grandma (2021)

May 14, 2022, Short 11

Amateur Hour Films is a group of filmmakers from YouTube that I have been introduced to through my fandom for the Schmoes Know Show and other connective YouTube shows. The people behind this group include people who form The Wangers and who have been making short films for several years now, most of which are in the horror genre.

Grandma fits in with that and it featured Cody Hall, playing a man named Jared who has been told to drop off groceries at the grandmother of his girlfriend/friend Megan. The house is dark and seemingly secluded but Jared heads in with a key that Megan tells him is under the mat.

Once inside, Jared realizes something weird is going on and that he was unsure what was happening.

The film is short and I would have liked a little more to have some idea of what was happening, but the short does an excellent job of creating a tone of eeriness and fearfulness, not only with the imagery provided, but also with an excellent use of the score by Alex Marzona.

We find out that this is not the only time this will happen and that Megan has something going on when fellow Wanger Cristian Ruvalcaba (also co-director with Hall) shows up as the next person.

This was fun and, as I said, gives a memorable mood for the audience. I’m interested to check out more from Amateur Hour Films.

Two Strangers Who Meet Five Times (2017)

May 14, 2022, Short 10

Alistair (Laurence Spellman) and Samir (Sargon Elda) meet five different times during their lives, but each time could not be more different. Each time, we see their interactions colored by prejudices and hatred, with the exception of the fifth time.

For a sparse film of twelve minutes, Two Strangers Who Meet Five Times does a lot with the time it allots. The film clearly labels the five times Alistair and Samir meet, starting with the second one, and we see how a seemingly innocuous interaction can affect the lives moving forward.

Written and directed by Marcus Markou, this film certainly shows how the world is a small one and how one person you do not know can have a huge affect on your life.

What’s Opera, Doc? (1957)

May 14, 2022, Short 9

So now that the Marvel one-shots are over, it frees up this Saturday Shorts to look at one of the greatest classics of all time. It is an animated video that is one of the few inducted into the EYG Hall of Fame. Let’s get this out of the way early…

I mean, there is an image from the cartoon on the banner. So it should not surprise anyone that the Merrie Melodies animated short, What’s Opera, Doc? is epic.

Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny took their normal rivalry to a new level as Elmer donned a Viking outfit, including his spear and magic helmet, to chase after the rascally rabbit in his Brünnhilde outfit.

Voiced by Mel Blanc and Arthur Q. Bryan, the cartoon included some of the greatest classic music of all time, bringing a tone of seriousness despite the silliness happening on screen. With the singing Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny, this transcended your typical Merrie Melodies show.

What’s Opera, Doc? has been considered one of the greatest animated cartoons ever produced by Warner Brothers and appears in many lists of the greatest cartoons of all time.

The short has so much creativity and enjoyment that it ha been the one WB cartoon that sticks out in my memory, without anything else blending together with it. Kill the Wabbit!

Team Darryl (2018)

May 14, 2022, Short 8

In the vein of the very successful Team Thor shorts, Taika Waititi returned after the release of Thor Ragnarok with another visit into the life of Darryl, Thor’s former roommate.

Of course, Darryl, who has moved to Los Angeles, needed a new roommate because Thor had left him. Unfortunately for Darryl, the only person to have answered his want-ad was The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum).

Grandmaster, who was one of the characters from Ragnarok, has a great relationship with Darryl as Grandmaster plots to take over earth. He bonds with Darryl despite Darryl’s own discomfort and anxiety about the situation.

Jeff Goldblum is fantastic here, taking the comedic place of Chris Hemsworth in this series of shorts. Once again written and directed by Taika Waititi, he provides his warped view on the MCU through these eccentric characters.

Team Thor Part 2 (2017)

May 14, 2022, Short 7

The follow-up to Team Thor Part 1 was more of the same from writer-director Taika Waititi and Chris Hemsworth.

Thor has taken an apartment with a human named Darryl (Daley Pearson) and Thor has been enjoying his time away from battle. Darryl struggled to get Thor to pay his rent because Thor did not understand the use of money. He believed that Asgardian coins he brought would suffice.

Instead, Thor hired a servant to help him with the tasks of polishing the hammer, making money and paying rent.

This is pretty much the same idea as the first one, which was so popular that they decided to make more.

Taika Waititi has a great grasp on the character of Thor and he brings out the fun in the situation unlike anyone else. Chris Hemsworth is extremely talented in the area of comedy and he shows his remarkable timing here.

Team Thor Part 1 (2016)

May 14, 2022 Short 6

I was incorrect when I said that the last Marvel One Shot was All Hail the King with Trevor Slattery. I did not know that this series of Thor shorts with his roommate Darryl were from the Marvel One Shots series, but that is how they were listed on Disney + so I thought I would watch them next.

Chris Hemsworth has a remarkable comedic timing. He is very funny and he has taken Thor in a much different direction than when he started out in the first Thor film. He has truly revitalized the character and he has said that he is much more interested in Thor now than he was before.

This short takes place after Civil War and it is Thor moving into an apartment in Australia with a man named Darryl (Daley Pearson). Thor is upset that neither Cap or Tony Stark called him during the conflict between them and he is trying to go on with his life.

Written and directed by Taika Waititi, this short gives us a definite flavor of how Waititi was going to take the character of Thor with Thor: Ragnarok.

This is a really funny little bit that I assume is outside of the typical MCU continuity. Watching Thor desperately trying to convince us that he was still relevant is so very funny.