Metro Weekly

Women’s Shorts

Reel Affirmations 2011

Oh Yes, It’s … Ladies’ Nite

Review by Randy Shulman

Rating: starstarstarstarstar (5 out of 5) [Critic’s Pick!]
Tuesday, 10/18/2011, 7:00 PM
Shorts presentation, $12 at West End Cinema

THE FOLKS BEHIND Reel Affirmations could have subtitled this potent collection of shorts, “I am Lesbian, hear me roar!” (But it’s probably a good thing they didn’t.) Things open with Deb Shoval’s AWOL (starstarstarstarstar), which tells a basic story in a captivating way, as a young soldier, about to be deployed to Afghanistan, arrives home to rural Pennsylvania for one last fling with the woman she adores only to make a life-changing decision. The movie is gorgeously filmed and the barren snowscapes highlight an emotional drift toward heartbreak and regret. It’s followed by Lynda Tarryk’s Lust Life (starstarstarstarstar), in which a Parisian woman, whose ex left her years ago, finds renewal. It’s a lovely, lovingly crafted film.

Cried Suicide (starstarstarstarstar) pulls out all the comedic stops with the kind of sophistication you’d expect from the people who produce content for the website “Funny or Die.” A woman fakes suicide to get the attention of her ex. “What a ballsy move!” says the friend who claims her from the hospital. “It’s not ballsy, it’s stupid,” she replies. “I just had my empty stomach pumped.” What ensues next is a frenzied parade of well-meaning friends bearing macrobiotic remedies (“It tastes a little bit like blood”), lesbian porn (“unshaven, natural breasted, slightly overweight”), and bitchy commentary (“This place is a mess! Did your maid try to kill herself, too?”). Funny stuff.

Cyclicity (starstarstarstarstar) is an intelligent, engaging look at the beginning — and the end — of a relationship, using a Ferris wheel as a metaphor. Director Jason Knade shows off a terrific sense of pacing and visual style. Slow Burn (star) is the program’s only weak link, combining an Old West motif with a modern-day tattoo parlor sensibility. It’s overindulgent, clunky and a bore.

Flyers (starstarstar) is a swift one-note treat with a cute, affirming punchline, and Tech Support (starstarstarstarstar) is an uproarious, if unpolished, comedy about a woman who gets more than she bargains for when calling a computer help line. (The use of split screen is especially noteworthy.) Finally, a few four-minute episodes of the web series The Slope (starstarstarstarstar) are interspersed throughout the program. The banter between the two leads is rapturously inappropriate. Sure you could always watch it on the web, but it’ll be better served with an audience. Also showing but unavailable for review: The Birthday.

Women's Shorts
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Randy Shulman is Metro Weekly's Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. He can be reached at rshulman@metroweekly.com.