NHFF Rundown Pt. 2 / by Aaron Bouchard

More short films from NHFF:

Empyean- A daughter deals a father in late-stage Alzheimer and her family falling apart. The filmmaker spoke after about how the film was based on a true story. The film feels very disjointed jumping forward in time at varying increments of time. Since the filmmaker has experienced this first hand, I have to wonder how much those jumps in times reflect living through the experience. Otherwise, the film is very well shot and acted on all fronts.

Amok- A teacher holds up in his apartment after a tragedy. The short is quickly paced, you never really get to experience the grief he is going through unlike Empyean.Ultimately, it comes off as a little sappy and ends a little too good naturedly for its own good.

Astaraga- A German ventures deep into Nazi occupied territory for a secret mission. Without giving too much away, the film is the G-rated version of the last act ofInglorious Basterds, except this short film is substantially betterThe film has incredible production value for a short film or  it was made by someone working at the WWII, train, and Nazi prop house. A little long for the story it is telling, but still better thanBasterds and its blotted running time.

Great- A young woman goes to Iceland to find her boyfriend after he mysteriously disappears. Not sure what to make of this film. Seemed like it is a trailer for a much longer, potentially better film. Nothing is explained, which I know I would be the first to argue is a good thing for some films, but here is just feel sort of pointless. The film also features a very ‘indie-movie’ ending too. If you saw it, you would know what I mean.

The one feature film I did see on Friday evening was Jason Reitman’s film Labor Day. Reitman’s films have had a tendency to advocate for some of the stranger things in films in the past decade or so; white people, pro-life, rich white people, and rich white people problems. Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet (actors who are incapable of giving a poor performance) are once again exceptional, as it the young Gattlin Griffith. The scenery is beautiful, filmed in Massachusetts as a stand in for New Hampshire because NH does not have the same tax breaks. Labor Day is a does not break Reitman’s marathon love of white people, but here he attempts to make a film about something he has little understanding of: the middle class. Reitman’s version of the middle class is one where everyone is rich and no one ever struggle. The film always feels like it is one soft focus shot away from being an adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks novel. Shmaltz seeps into the film and poisons it the waters. The film seems to end at one point and at the screening I was at people began to clap. This was a good ending, but unfortunately the film kept going with an incredibly distracting cameo. Although I seem to be griping about the film quite a bit (It is past 1am as of writing this), Day is one of Reitman’s better films. When the flaws happen, it is upsetting because they seem to be tampering with a perfectly good film.

More tomorrow…