Saturday, September 25, 2010

Big stars make small movies: Knightley & Friend, Pattison & Riley play on iTunes

How much fun is it to see some of your favorites film actors in tiny little movies that you can view for a song -- and in practically the time it takes to sing it?  In one case, pretty much fun, in the other, not so much. Even then, you'll get to watch a "famous" actor (Robert Pattinson) do better (and thankfully shorter) work here than anywhere else that TrustMovies, at least, has seen him.

Mr. Pattinson, shown at right, has been graced with a slightly odd but handsome-enough face, but his acting skills remain shrouded.  If his work in the Twilight series, together with Little Ashes and The Haunted Airman (that's all I've seen of him) is any indication, he has seemed both wooden and affected: a rather boring, semi-hunk whose connection with that hugely successful vampire/abstinence franchise was the lucky break of his life. Still, he might yet grow and go on to do some terrific work: Never say never, right? Here, at least -- with maybe two minutes of actual screen time and then gone before we know what has happened -- he seems less affected and more real and immediate. This time, surely, less is more.

Talulah Riley (shown at left), on the other hand, is the real star of THE SUMMER HOUSE, a 14-minute film in which she plays a British girl returning, after some time, to France and several older family friends.  We see her first as a girl. Immediately one of those "mentor" friends (nicely played by Marianne Borgo) offers her a drink and a little fashion sense, and -- with a new hairdo and dress -- she is quite the lovely young woman. With but a few minutes of screen time, Ms Riley manages this transition quite well.

The director Daisy Gili, and writer Ian Beck (from his own story) give us a very tiny movie that conflates, for no intelligent reason I can determine, the 1969 moon landing with this young woman's first love.  (OK: they're both "firsts," but that's hardly reason enough.) Because of its combination of very short length and could-be weighty subjects, the film becomes one of those "shorts" that either should be more pointed and succinct (see The Story of My Life, for a near-perfect example of this) or longer, so that it might flesh out what themes are on view.  It manages neither and consequently seems to exist only to show us that Ms Gili can indeed put together some beautiful photography (filmed in a lovely old house in the French countryside), performances, sets, extras, sound and editing -- without giving us much of a story. The Summer House, an over-used title, can be viewed via iTunes -- here, for U.S. viewers; here for those in Canada, and here for the British.


THE CONTINUING AND LAMENTABLE SAGA OF THE SUICIDE BROTHERS is also a trifle but one done even more speedily (eleven minutes) and with a sense of delight and dark fun by all concerned. Somewhere in the mountains of Austria or maybe Switzerland (there's a Cuckoo clock on view), daily at 2pm, two brothers (Rupert Friend -- shown below: This is the guy who should have been cast in the lead of the Twilight franchise! -- and Tom Mison, both of whom also wrote this screenplay), try to commit suicide. We have no idea why, nor probably, would we care.

The two are watched over, perhaps without their knowing it, by a Tinkerbell-ish fairy (Keira Knightley, looking stern but gorgeous: see bottom of post) who may or may not want to protect them.  A few things happen along the way to a funny finale.  The acting is arch, by necessity; the situation weird but amusing; and the stylization extremely well done.

I can't imagine from where the idea for this film came, but it's short and sweet/sour enough that its genesis, in terms of entertain-ment, is beside the point. The short was directed by Arran Brownlee and Corran Brownlee, whom I believe are brothers (of the non-suicide variety, we hope) and whom I trust we shall hear from again, with a longer film. Meanwhile, "Suicide Brothers" can be currently seen via iTunes: at this link for the U.S. and at this one for British viewers.

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