Jordana Spiro/Skin The Short Film/Facebook
On the web, filmmakers from around the world are releasing short films to express themselves and to garner a wide audience. Each month, we're going to present 10 of the best short films that you can watch online immediately. Below are our picks for April 2014 (click the title of a film to watch on YouTube or Vimeo).
1. 7:35de la Mañana
Who made it? Nacho Vigalondo
What is it? A charming romantic musical that will put a smile on your face
How long is it? 7 minutes and 44 seconds
2. Zombinladen - The Axis of Evil Dead
Who made it? Clément Deneux
What is it? A fake exploitation trailer that would make Quentin Tarantino proud
How long is it? 4 minutes and 16 seconds
Who made it? Marc Roussel
What is it? A surreal story about a man who tries to prevent the murder of a young woman living in his house... 30 years in the past
How long is it? 19 minutes and 24 seconds
4. Asience: Hairy Tale
Who made it? Kazuto Nakazawa
What is it? The best shampoo commercial you'll ever watch.
How long is it? 1 minute
Who made it? Michael Kefeyalew
What is it? A film about a young boy who witnesses a horrific sight
How long is it? 6 minutes and 37 seconds
Who made it? Julia Haltof
What is it? A poetic, esoteric story about solitude
How long is it? 12 minutes and 25 seconds
Who made it? Riley Hooper
What is it? A documentary about Flo Fox, a blind photographer in New York City
How long is it? 9 minutes and 44 seconds
8. Set No Path
Who made it? Brooks Reynolds
What is it? A beautifully shot film about friendship
How long is it? 17 minutes and 10 seconds
9. The Last Three Minutes
Who made it? Po Chan
What is it? A day in the life of a dying man
How long is it? 5 minutes and 18 seconds.
10. Photograph of Jesus
Who made it? Laurie Hill
What is it? A strong look inside Getty's Hulton Archive
How long is it? 6 minutes and 49 seconds
Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.