WORLDWIDE SHORT FILM FESTIVAL at various venues, Tuesday (June 12) to June 17. $10, opening gala $20; passes: festival $125, six-pack $50, daytime $30, do-it-all combo (screenings and symposium) $170, symposium four-pack $60. www.worldwideshortfilmfest.com. Rating: NNNNN
CELEBRITY SHORTSJune 14, 7 pm, Cumberland. Rating: NNNN
Far from being vanity projects, this year's Celebrity Shorts use their star wattage to tell a range of dramatic and comedic tales. Of the bunch, a few stand out.
Genuinely funny mockumentary Lance Is A Jerk shows what an asshole one-balled bicycle boy Lance Armstrong really is. The Office's Rainn Wilson stars as his yellow-wristband-wearing, yellow-M&M-finding sycophantic personal assistant, and Armstrong hilariously takes the piss out of himself.
It would be too simplistic and reductive to view first-time director Jennifer Aniston 's (with co-director and writer Andrea Buchanan ) Room 10 as a reaction to her failed marriage to Brad Pitt. This is a low-key yet astutely observed story of an ER nurse in a rocky relationship ( Robin Wright Penn ) who learns a thing or two about making a marriage work from a man ( Kris Kristofferson ) whose wife of 45 years is dying.
Wright Penn is note perfect as usual, but it's Kristofferson who stands out, reminding you that in addition to being a great singer/songwriter he's a fine actor when given the chance.
Real-life couple Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard (who deserve to be on Hollywood's A-list based on the vowel content of their names alone) star in High Falls , a subtle relationship drama about secrets: she accidentally killed his dog; he got a hand job in a Japanese massage parlour. Needless to say, a happy ending doesn't seem to be in the cards.
Speculate on this
SCI-FI : OUT THERE June 16, 4:30 pm; June 17, 9:30 pm, Innis Town Hall. Rating: NNN
Though youtube has spawned a legion of Star Trek- and Star Wars-inspired shorts the Sci-Fi: Out There program even offers the less-than-stellar Wookie At Work about Chewbacca as an office temp there are still filmmakers who take the genre seriously, as most of this program proves.
Tops among the selections is Codehunters , a heavy-metalesque animated adventure that's a bit short on story but long on action, imagery, killer bugs and giant frakkin' robots!
X is a more traditionally animated space tale about a lone astronaut whose response to being cloned has humorous consequences. It's the kind of short that would have fit in on Sesame Street right after the segment on living in a capital I.
In Isabelle And Stuart , a broken-hearted girl's attempt to retrieve her copy of Wrath Of Khan from her delusional ex-boyfriend results in an explosive lesson in time travel paradoxes that would make Marty McFly shudder.
And Terror On The 3918 proves you can do smart and funny sci-fi with practically no budget (hint: a typical big-city apartment doubles as a spaceship, with tea cups for knobs and switches).
Midnight Mania: Creepy June 15, 11:59 pm; Midnight Mania: Freaky June 16, 11:59 pm, Cumberland. Rating: NNNN
If you're up for something a bit more twisted, Midnight Mania 's two-part series, Creepy and Freaky , offers a menagerie of aliens, robots, serial killers, tricloptic squid monsters and Jehovah's Witnesses.
On the Creepy side, there's Demonology Of Desire , by Rue Morgue magazine founder Rod Gudiño . It's a twisted little teenage love story about a girl with a gun, the boy who worships her and the creature she keeps locked up in the shed. While it drags like a bloody corpse a bit in the middle, it pays off in the end.
Even sicker are Happy Birthday 2 You imagine Michael Myers's eighth birthday party and Angel , a Belgian short about a doll repairman who rescues a freak showgirl so he can "fix" her.
Among the best Freaky films is The Intergalactic Adventures Of Jaime De Funes And Arancha . Clearly inspired by Flash Gordon-style serials, this intentionally cheesy adventure about two idiot space cadets also takes time to ask, "If men and women are so complementary, why don't men have two holes in their chests?"
Homework is bizarre, funny and kind of sick. Oh yeah, it's a mock doc about Frankenstein chickens. And it's German (if that makes things any clearer).
And Death To The Tinman uses the familiar Wizard Of Oz character as a starting point for a dark tale of a heartbroken outsider who's slowly transformed into an axe-wielding tin cyborg and leads a revolt against the town's extremist religious leaders.