Tonight, September 30, The Milwaukee Film Festival had its second screening of “Shorts: Date Night.” This selection of short films is known for being great for couples and singletons alike, and the great thing about the Shorter is Better Program is that you’re bound to like at least some of the shorts, so the evening’s never a bust.
This years “Date Night” shorts included seven international short films arranged in an order that made for a well-rounded evening that comes full circle on the different stages of a romantic relationship. While past “Date Night” programs have included more variety in terms of different kinds of love and perhaps more of a leaning towards the sadder sides of relationships, this year leaned farther towards the cute and happy parts of a relationship. Perhaps it would have made the audience appreciate the happier romantic short films had they seen more dramatic depictions of love, but it was certainly a charming, people-pleasing event and left the audience with a smile.
“Shorts: Date Night” plays one final time on Friday, October 2 at 6:45 pm at the Avalon Theater. Tickets are available online or at the Milwaukee Film Box Office. For more information, please visit the Milwaukee Film webpage.
“Who’s Up? (Qui de Nous Deux?)” is a light, delightful first date short that’s very funny from start to finish. The French short comedy follows a man on his first date with a woman who, he’s sure, is the love of his life. Things take an unexpected turn for him, however, when the couple decide to take turns paying for parts of the date and things fall far from even. The majority of the film focuses on the humor of this payment deal, but it’s so clever that the same joke becomes even funnier with each passing moment.
One-Minute Time Machine
“One-Minute Time Machine” is pure comedy. A man has a time machine that takes him back one minute in time, which he uses to help him pick up a woman he meets in the park. This adorable, light-hearted comedy takes a quick turn towards darker comedy that leave audiences in an uproar. There are touches of adult and dark humor, but it still manages to not get too raunchy or disturbing. Even those who wouldn’t normally be interested in dark or blue humor would love this hilarious short film.
We’ll Find Something
“We’ll Find Something” is one of the more abstract short films of “Date night” that makes the viewer think, reach, and fill in the blanks for him/herself. A premise as simple as a couple searching for food takes the viewer to the parts of a relationship that require work and struggling through, but still leaves you with a sense of dulled optimism. While the labored perseverance depicted certainly covers parts of a relationship, and adds an element of balance to the event, this short leaves too many unanswered questions for some people’s taste.
“Say Nothing (No Digas Nada)” leaves precisely enough blanks for anyone to handle. The short film is very simple and yet the filmmaker leaves just enough room for the audience to make their own story. A woman is home alone and has an unusual encounter with an intruder who gets more than he bargained for when deciding to rob this particular home. “Say Nothing” is extremely touching and even suspenseful at times, making some viewers audibly gasp. This film is about the hardest parts of a relationship while primarily focusing on basic human connections and finding support in the most unlikely of places.
“Forever Over” is a great showcase of what filmmakers can do, including their range in style and emotion. A couple becomes bored with their mundane lives and decides to go through a list of lifelong wishes to keep the excitement in their lives. From one scene to the next, this short film can be trippy, music video-esque, a montage, sensual, abstract, or dark, and yet the style is always true to the story. Ultimately, “Forever Over” is a love story that’s hard to pinpoint in terms of genre/style. It’s a cinematic sampler platter that artfully works to tell the same, beautiful story.
“Digits” reels “Shorts: Date Night” back towards the more humorous beginnings of a romantic relationship. After getting a girl’s phone number during trivia night and misplacing the last two digits, a man laboriously tries calling each and every possible number while his fascination with fish creeps into his subconscious and present parallels with his current predicament. This hilarious short film is incredibly smart, playing largely on metaphors, timing, and quick wit. It brushes on the serious concerns of a nervous, single man while swimming in comedy.
In the Clouds
“In the Clouds (En las Nubes)” is perhaps the most well-rounded short film of “Shorts: Date Night” that covers the widest spectrum of relationship stages from start to finish. An Argentinian woman and American man speak to their friends about an upcoming proposal and the possible repercussions if the proposal isn’t well received. The two young people are sure they are about to reach the most exciting romantic moment of their lives, only to find that perhaps their friends’ doubts were right. The Argentinian film is a light-hearted one that seems entirely focused on the best parts of a relationship, until the comedy turns into a drama and cuts to the core of heartache. However, the film comes around for a well-rounded, all-encompassing depiction of romantic relationships.