Features

ATVA Reviews: Part 1

Air3's Features team has come together to review another 15 student films.

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Another year, another AirTV Awards (ATVA’s for short). Which means that the Air3 Features team has come together to review another 15 student films that have been put forward for awards, and this year the reviews were quite extensive, so much so that we’ve decided to spread the reviews out over 3 different days.

I promise it wasn’t to get more traffic on the website, although that does work to our advantage now that i think about it. Anyway, the ATVA’s will take place Monday the 15th of May at 7pm in the Macrobert Performing Arts Centre, tickets are £7 and can be bought via a stall in the atrium or directly from the Macrobert’s website.

We hope you enjoy our reviews, and that when you see the films, you enjoy them even more than we did. For the last time I will do this as head of Features, I give you our 2017 ATVA reviews.

– Kieran

O’ Christmas Tree – Andrew Pope

O' Christmas Tree

James Fitzsimons

Two words. Well played. You got me. A Christmas comedy by Andrew Pope that doesn’t last long but got the laugh from me it was looking for. The only animated film in this year’s ATVA’s, O Christmas tree serves as a fun way to spend 54 seconds. Good voice work, good animation and funny dialogue. What more can you ask for?

4/5

Cara Boyle

Entertaining to watch, and I liked the animation it was unique. It made me laugh out loud at some points and even though it takes a darker turn still manages to make it light hearted fun. I enjoyed the end titles but I would say I wish that it were longer.

3/5

Aaron Fincham

O’ Christmas tree is not profound. It is a single joke that lasts less than a minute. While its length and lack of content may seem like limitations, they are actually its biggest strength. The film knows what it wants to be and knows what it wants to present to the audience. Which it does exceedingly well. The animation is clear and characterful, perfectly complimenting the funny dialogue. The dialogue itself feels sincere which makes the conversation-taking place more real and as such makes it funnier. The final scene is a little clever twist that provides a satisfying punchline. O’ Christmas Tree doesn’t break any barriers or set new standards, but the little that it does is done with charm and humour.

4/5

Daniel Wright

O’ Christmas Tree by Andrew Pope is a nicely animated short (I hesitate to call it a complete film as it feels like a removed segment of something far larger) which relies upon a single gag which it uses to good effect. The short, which cleverly utilises real backgrounds with the animation layered over the top, is nothing overly complex or clever but uses the idea of a Christmas Tree up well after December as a relatable place on which to place black comedy.

Overall, a short snippet that is very different from all of the other films this year in its delivery, which makes it greatly appreciated and enjoyed.

3/5

Cory Thomas

With some really fantastic animation that sets this film apart from the crowd, Christmas Tree is a loveable bite sized comedy. The final twist is what really gives the film its punch.

4/5

Carys Lunn

This is a very short cartoon animation, only 54 seconds long. Nevertheless, it is aesthetically pleasing and the animation is quite well done. The drawings pop out of the screen against the photographic backgrounds, which works very well. The punchline to the joke of this film is pretty morbid and I’m sure would appeal to some people, but sadly it didn’t get a laugh from me, so it fails as a comedy.

2/5

5% – Kieran Daly

5% Poster

James Fitzsimons

A solid take on anxiety and introversion, Kieran Daly’s 5 percent is well written with some good acting that made me wish it was longer to see more of the story unfold. Unfortunately, this movie isn’t perfect. While the script and sound are good, some of the acting comes across as a little unnatural. That coupled with some less than perfect camera work serve as the only flaws in an otherwise thought provoking film. Also, Kieran filmed this in his flat and it served as a reason to get pished. Good times

3/5

Cara Boyle

One of my favourite films this year! Hard to find fault with it, the cast was fantastic and props to Jonathan Anderson who stole the show for me in places, Tessa and Cameron were brilliant and I loved their dynamic. What’s not to like; fourth wall breaking, a thoughtful story as well as the relatable fear we all get when our phones are about to die? A definite must-watch.

5/5

Aaron Fincham

For all the things that 5 Percent does well, there is an equal amount of things that it does poorly. For each well placed shot is a blurry unfocused camera. For each solid piece of sound mixing is a jarring shift from loud to quiet. For each well-lit scene is another that appears to take place in a black-out. The only thing that I would argue is consistent is the use of clichés. From the Zooey Deschanelesque Alice whose motivations for clinging to Will go from quirky to downright nonsensical, to the final scene ripped straight from any film about an American High School in which apparently every person in the room is a closest douchebag. The acting is the highest quality aspect of this film, but is let down by the often clunky dialogue and what can only be assumed as being directed to have the emotional stability of a five year old. Characters go from calm to furious at the tip of a hat with no context that satisfyingly explains the shift. As previously said though, there are plenty of things the film does right at times. The issue is the lack of consistently in what it does well, coupled with the clunky dialogue and cliché riddled plot lets the experience down.

2.5/5

Daniel Wright

Written, directed and produced by Kieran Daly, 5 Percent touches upon some genuine issues and experiences, which many people may have had. Based around the search for a phone charger, 5 Percent tells the story of two introverted people who meet at a party at which they feel uncomfortable. From an acting standpoint it’s predominantly good with two leads Cameron Watson and Tessa Richards being absolutely fantastic while some of the supporting cast, such as flatmate Calum, deliver lines in a fashion that doesn’t help immersion within the film. The writing works well in making the main character appear relatable, though repeated fourth wall breaking and fact-delivery only works to an extent and some may view it as slightly overused. The film is well shot throughout and the sound work surrounding the party sounds drifting in and out I thought was particularly well done.

Overall, 5 Percent is an interesting film surrounding introversion and acceptance, which I enjoyed due to the stellar acting and well-done cinematography.

3.5/5

Cory Thomas

5% is a gem of a script, and has good acting throughout. The fourth wall breaking is neatly executed and music choice is great. However, the major distraction is the number of out of focus shots, which detract from an otherwise solid piece.

3.5/5

Carys Lunn

5 Percent is quite a good drama that focuses on how introverted people are often misunderstood by those who are more extroverted. In some places, I felt that the main character’s narration away quite a bit from the overall serious tone, as he would repeatedly break the fourth wall, which seemed a bit out of place. However, the film is very well edited and the music that is used adds to the party atmosphere. I wish the script had explained why Will’s character needed to charge his phone as this seems a very central part of the plot. Regardless, 5 Percent has a good message of accepting people as they are, and has some great dramatic moments.

3/5

Die Hard Brexit – Sean Kane

Die Hard Brexit

James Fitzsimons

….Jesus Christ. I mean I was in this one and even still I wasn’t prepared for the whole film. Die hard Brexit is the story of (sith?) Prime Minister Theresa May and two rogue action heroes as they try to stop the triggering of Article 50. From the minds of Sean McLaughlin and Conor Kane, this action movie parody serves as a trailer for a movie that I demand be made in the future. I’m talking feature length. Wonderful in its ridiculousness, the stand out actor has to be Alex Duff for wearing a paper cut out of Theresa May’s face and putting on a voice that will forever haunt my nightmares

4.5/5

Cara Boyle

The movie trailer style was interesting, and I really enjoyed the music choice. The special effects looked fantastic and it looked like they had a lot of fun making this. It would be really cool to see a full-length version.

4/5

Aaron Fincham

I wanted so hard to love this. The concept is absolutely beautiful and all the ideas presented in the film have the potential to make something amazing. Unfortunately it just falls flat. There is an art form to making a so bad its good piece which Die Hard Brexit just doesn’t understand. It never takes it far enough to reach the humour that it’s aiming for, making it more Birdemic than Sharknado. The poor acting isn’t poor because it’s over the top (which it really should be), it’s poor because it’s wooden. The concept of Emperor May is delightful but the execution just isn’t funny. Theresa May with Palpatine’s voice would have been hilarious so it’s disappointing they didn’t go with that direction. The effects they use are well done but I feel they should have been used to compliment the humour, which they don’t do. For the concept alone I have respect for this film even if it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

2.5/5

Daniel Wright

Directed by Sean Kane and written by Sean McLaughlin, Die Hard Brexit takes the form of an extended movie trailer concerning exaggerated and satirised events surrounding ‘Brexit’ and the enactment of Article 50 for the UK leaving the European Union. Taking cues from films such as Die Hard and Star Wars, Die Hard Brexit is an exciting and fast paced film that features superb cinematography and some great-looking professional shots. An intriguing and amusing take on the very real political times we live in, Die Hard Brexit may feature some jokes that are not to everyone’s taste but does manage to hit its mark most of the time. Apart from that, the only real issue with the film is that some of the lines from particularly actors, especially Alex Duff as ‘Theresa May’, are quite difficult to hear at times which could affect the overall enjoyment.

3.5/5

Cory Thomas

It definitely made me laugh in parts and comes with some really topical humour, but a lot of the jokes fell flat and the video felt messy. A little more time in editing and sound would have really pushed this up a level.

2.5/5

Carys Lunn

Die Hard Brexit is absolutely ridiculous in the best way. Alex Duff as Sith Lord Theresa May is silly and amazing and I love it. This film involves all the best elements of 80s action films, interspersed with Theresa May cackling about Article 50. The result is golden.

4/5

Fingerbang – Jack Buchanan

Fingerbang

James Fitzsimons

Fingerbang by Jack Buchanan was a strange one. It features James Lee as a strange silent man who attempts to use a finger gun as tool for murder. It was a movie of two tones. On one hand there’s the comedic element of using his hand as a gun, but then the rest of it is just sad and quite serious. I didn’t feel as if those two tones meshed together perfectly well. I give this a university pass. Not great, but it gets you by.

2/5

Cara Boyle

I would love to see a sequel, it had the most unique story! The suspense was well thought out and James Lee was brilliant, he had the perfect creepy stare. It left me with a ton of questions but it’s well worth it.

4/5

Aaron Fincham

Fingerbang offers a lot of mystery and intrigue. This is its greatest strength. Honestly I would watch a sequel of sorts to find out more about what’s going on. This is J.J. Abrams ‘mystery box’ done perfectly. The veil of mystery carries the entire film, despite other aspects dragging it down. In terms of the practical, the film works well. The cinematography works, the lighting is substantial and the sound is of consistent quality. The acting is the biggest let down of the film. With little dialogue a lot needed to be carried by the actor’s faces and body language and unfortunately it just doesn’t hold up. Even with its imperfections though, the curiosity that the film sparks is its biggest value.

3/5

Daniel Wright

I might as well get it out of the way and state that Fingerbang is undoubtedly my favourite film of the ATVAs 2017. A film by Jack Buchanan, Fingerbang is a haunting and unsettling experience that needs to be watched and appreciated on all possible levels. From the professional cinematography and fitting score and sound effects, to the slow build that increases the tension at a perfect pace until the climax of the film, Fingerbang is a film that you don’t so much enjoy, as experience. The standout factor in Jack Buchanan’s film is lead actor James Lee who plays a clearly troubled individual in a manner that is disturbingly believable and well worthy of the Best Actor ATVA. While the film does leave must unexplained and unsaid, the audience is not left wanting for answers as what is there is all you need to understand the harrowing events that unfold. Simply stellar.

5/5

Cory Thomas

It’s amazing to think that what started out as a light comedy has turned into one of the most harrowing films to ever play at ATVAs. Fantastic acting from parts large and small makes this a believable world. Add in the haunting music and striking cinematography and you have a fantastic film.

5/5

Carys Lunn

I would potentially describe Fingerbang as a thriller. This film is absolutely captivating, and James Lee’s stand-out performance as Mark is incredible. He communicates a story of intense jealousy which leads to a murder, conveying an impressive range of emotions without saying a word. The editing of this film tells the story exceptionally well. The music and sound design also give this film a chilling and sinister feel, which is so well achieved by Jack Buchanan. I thoroughly enjoyed Fingerbang, it is outstanding in my opinion.

5/5

Divided – Marine Niewerf

Divided

James Fitzsimons

A poignant monologue that reminds us, our bodies are our own. We do not make ourselves look good for others, but for ourselves. Written and directed by Marijne Nieuwerf, this film is beautifully shot yet simple and to the point, that the body shaming is not acceptable. The voice over gives an eerie almost ethereal presence, which works will with the film

4/5

Cara Boyle

A beautiful message, and I loved how the camera never shows their faces. Definitely a more emotional film, but one we can all relate to at some point. It was extremely well executed and the editing was a highlight for me. One of my favourites of this year.

4/5

Aaron Fincham

Alright. Honestly. This is bad. The cinematography, the lighting, the sound, none of that matters when what the films is about and contains, is bad. What appears to be something that had a genuinely good thought behind it crashes and burns in its execution. If you are going to attempt to have any kind of philosophical, political or social message by the main premise of your film (not just as an undercurrent), then you have to do it well. You have to present a strong understanding and create an emotional response in your viewers. Not only does this fail to present any kind of meaningful viewpoint, the viewpoint it does present it does so in a pretentious way. Does need to be said this created a strong reaction from me, unfortunately it was a reaction of distaste.

1/5

Daniel Wright

Marijne Nieuwerf’s film Divided is an interesting one. While the short film does not contain any sense of a coherent and structured plot, it does feature a message of body positivity and acceptance of oneself via artistic camera shots, melodic score and voiceover. Ironically (or perhaps not?), Divided is a very divisive film which you will either love or hate depending on how you feel about particularly artistic cinema. Sadly, I fall under hate for Divided. While I certainly appreciate the delivery of an important message through beautiful cinematography that manages to capture some excellent natural lighting, the film appears overly abstract for my liking and failed to captivate me like many other plot and character driven films have and will.

1/5

Cory Thomas

A really great concept means that this poetic piece on the body provides a lot to think about. However, the narration and music failed to fully entice me, and repetitive shots ultimately left me wanting more variety.

2.5/5

Carys Lunn

I loved the beautiful set design for Divided. The lighting and colour is also very pretty, and the cinematography is great. I also enjoy the costume design (that turtleneck is pretty fly though). Despite this, I must admit that I am not the biggest fan of poetry, and although I understand that this film is about body positivity, the artsy elements I find hard to fully appreciate it. A beautiful film nonetheless, but not necessarily my cup of tea.

2/5

The ATVA’s is May 15 at 7pm in the Macrobert Arts Centre

Tickets are £7 and can be purchased online or via a stall in the atrium

http://macrobertartscentre.org/

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