Choose whatever warning you will—not safe for work, it may get awkward, the first few rows will get wet—the collection on shorts on display late Thursday night that can be accurately described as ‘sexually charged’ require an equal amount of warning, and temptation.
A fantastic quartet of shorts led off, each starring a male and female couple, and each with its own universal circumstances and quite a bit of clever dialogue. Opposites Attack is the blind-date situation where disdain and sarcasm thrive, and passionate hatred ultimately leads to passion elsewhere.
In another, Dave Franco (James’ younger brother) and Talia Tabin team up for Would You, another equally funny and awkward romp about a game of ‘Would You Rather’ that has all too real consequences.
In Excuse Me, one man’s errant mumbling during a moment of peak passion may led to his relationships downfall, but just because the man in a couple may be thinking about someone else while having sex, doesn’t the mean the woman isn’t too. And lastly, Mouthful, tells the humourous story of a man in a relationship who is not only a bit insecure about what he has to offer, but perhaps just a little too preoccupied in his girlfriend’s ex- boyfriend.
All four are North American releases and possess the sentiment of young relationships that pop culture is so imbued, but because of the brevity of the medium, the endings can be silly, uncomfortable, yet still relevant.
Two foreign shorts rank among the most memorable of the evening, offering much more whimsy, and one especially in Cockatoo that makes for an interesting discussion. In this Australian entry, mopey, balding, middle-aged Michael mourns his ex, and in an attempt to overcome, enlists the help of a specialized agency. An actress arrives, dons the appropriate outfit, attempts the right accent, and proceeds to remind Michael of all the worst things about the relationship. People ask me to do all sorts of things, the woman tells Michael, including dressing up as a client’s dead pet (the titular cockatoo), to helping the grieving process. It an endearing and witty story about growth, one that sees Michael ultimately ask about how the former client got over his loss. “He got a new pet,” she says.
I’m Your Man, from France, concluded the collection, in which a run-in with his ex-girlfriend sends Bruno into a fit of passion and renewed love. It is hard, however, to keep an affair secret from your current girlfriend not when you’re stuck on your ex emotionally, but when you are stuck to (read: in) her physically. 15 minute metaphor about the bond of love that offers plenty of physical comedy and awkwardness, Bruno and Mia are clearly made for each other, but will have to earn their peace through much embarrassment.
A series of random shorts are thrown into the mix, more memorable for their shock or weirdness than anything else. Two young Norwegian skater boys ride naked in slow motion in Anti-Reproductive Mating Ritual, a piece that elicited far too many uncomfortable laughs from the audience. A girl has sex with her guitar in 030, and Tempest in a Bedroom is a stop-motion short about a maid and a repairman showing a young couple how to make it happen in, well, the bedroom.
The hidden gem in the 12-film collection is The Relationship Doctrine of Don Blanquito. A documentary short, everyone is in on the joke save for the Don, a white rapper living in Brazil who has a very particular view of women and relationship. Here’s a hint: it’s not a positive one. If ever a group of people could come together and comfortably laugh at the expense of someone else’s inane blather, this short is it.