Sunday, 29 April 2012
Assassins UK 2011
Directed by Michael Bonomo
Available online now
It’s always very flattering when a director gets in touch and asks you to take a look at his short film. I’ve had this kind of request a number of times now but I’m always filled with a lot of anxiety before I watch these things because... well... someone’s taken the trouble to ask for my opinion and they’ll probably want me to review it and... what if i don’t like it?
So when director Michael Bonomo sent me a direct message on twitter about his short film Assassins, I had the usual mix of “well that’s really nice but what if it’s tosh?” feelings running through my head. This went on a little longer than usual because several, mostly stupid things, came up so it took me almost over a week to get around to checking this one out.
Happily, I’m glad (and relieved) to report that Assassins is a beautifully tight, well made little movie and I’m glad that the director is looking into turning this one into a feature length film.
The movie has only three actors in it but one of those is seen only in flashback... so it’s mostly a two hander in terms of the specific drama of the situation. It starts off with a chilling, nameless character played by a guy I’ve seen in two shorts now, Bill Oberst Jr, and he is waiting in his car for a first time assassin to finish his work. When he judges that enough time has passed for the man inside to have finished his job, he gets out of his car, enters the apartment and sits down with a glass of water... surprising the new assassin. Everything about Oberst Jr's character is meticulous and clean... which could also be used as poster-gal terms for the general tone of the movie-making on show in this one. Everything is very cleanly shot and designed and the action takes place in very utilitarian sets. Oberst Jrs character is very specific in everything he does, which includes wiping down all the surfaces where he could leave fingerprints as and when he does (yeah, right from the opening, the director is clueing you in to the professionalism of this character).
Highlighting “surfaces” is also a tactic the frame design takes, in that there are some great close ups of specific surfaces contrasted against each other... a gun barrel on a toilet seat, a rack focus shot of the owner, an image of a door handle which is then juxtaposed with an image reflected in a mirror as Oberst Jr enters the victims apartment. It’s almost like the agenda here is to subconsciously concentrate the viewers mind on the fact that the world of the assassin is a world of surface details which need attending to... look after all those little details and the rest will fall into place. I’m not sure if this is what the director intended from this style of shooting but it’s certainly a nice touch if he did.
Now I don’t want to give away too much about this little gem because I want you to discover it for yourself, but I will say that the weight of the drama on this one rests on the slow realisation of the would-be assassin (and the audience) that the two main characters are already playing out a relationship, which is kind of an interview process in actual fact, and that the whole thing is a set-up with Bill Oberst Jr's character being in something of a win/win situation. He is disappointed by his would-be protege but he is willing to let either one of two scenarios play out. Again, I’m not going to tell you what happens at the end but there is a certain darkness to the final half a minute or so of this movie which gives it a bit of “edge” where other movies with a similar concluding incident might lose out in the memorability stakes... that is to say, it’s not what happens at the end that is so dark... it’s the clumsiness and lack of professionalism associated with one of the characters in its execution which is what ensures it lingers in your memory a little once the credits have finished rolling.
The film is mostly scoreless, which works okay to highlight the very deliberate world of the hired assassin I guess but I think it could have maybe done with a little more, subtle musical emphasis throughout... especially if it was as sturdy and interesting as the end credits music composed by somebody called Kristen Baum. Nice work!
Okay, so that’s me done with this one, I think. I’d really be interested in seeing what this director will be up to in the future which, as it happens, looks like it’ll be a feature length version of this short... albeit with a slightly different plot line to the original version. This is where you readers come in!
This film is only ten minutes long so if you’ve got just ten minutes of your life you can spare in the next day or so, you could do a lot worse than clicking on one of these two links below and taking a look at this short movie for yourself. This film needs to be seen and giving a watch won’t cost you anything except ten minutes (depending on your net connection). Then if you like what you see, you could do a lot worse than tweeting or emailing the link to somebody else you feel might appreciate this short film too. There’s even a donation button on the second link where you can actually make a real difference to these artists and help them kickstart fund the feature length version by making a small donation via PayPal. It’s all good stuff and I think more movies should be funded in this manner because I suspect it helps nurture a less compromised artistic vision when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of filming... which is what this short demonstrates amply. A less compromised artistic vision. Something we all strive for.
But don’t take my word for it. Click on one of these two links and check out the movie for yourself. It’s only ten minutes long and it’s free... enjoy!
Go here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zl6txavrac or here http://www.indiegogo.com/Assassins