Untitled by Joseph Thomas
‘Untitled’ comes with a great feeling of intimacy and internal consciousness – the lead actor, who is also the writer and director, has successfully produced a project that is almost entirely an evidence piece of the old-world cinema theory of the ‘ caméra-stylo’ (“camera-pen”).
The tight frames and the intense black and white photography all evoke the vibes of Aranofsky’s debut Pi… but it also feels quite remote from this – a smaller more intense project that involves a personal story of artistic struggle (one greatly enhanced by the auteur’s own authorial presence of such a struggle).
There is a strong sense of time, however, and perhaps with such a limited myopic topic – the 20-minute runtime can be felt at times.
Overall the project treads a covid lockdown vibe without the artistic limitation of such a theme, and is perhaps more in line with the Maya Deren films, though somehow very literary at the same time; rather than the plain avant-garde.
Shadows of the Dust by Ali Matlock
Shadows of Dust has a very bold sense of color with its setup – we quickly move from blue to red and then a natural lighting rigs. I have to add, it is an impressive touch here at the start to have the soundtrack merge into the radio playback. It shows great care for detail in a short film that many don’t bother with.
Ultimately, as the plot evolves, this short film becomes like the opening of one of The X Files. This isn’t a bad thing. The familiar ground of a couple out on the road and something unexplained happening to them is one of the best tropes of the sci-fi genre. There is even a hint here…. if one was to extend the runtime further, this could form its own little ‘world’ of narrative, like the works of Ray Bradbury (thinking mostly of The Twighlight Zone here).
Above all though the short film has a solid consistent production value. At no moment does it falter and become unappealing or unconvincing. And this is really key when producing a film of this nature – that the cast, the photography and the edit are all solid enough to make the heightened plot believable. Ali Matlock and his team should be above all commended on this… the sheer believability of the project is present and dangerous.