Arts Desk

DC Shorts, Showcase 3: Judi Dench on Facebook

Short reviews of films from this year's DC Shorts Film Festival

There’s some serious star power in Showcase 3, but even without A-list elevation, most of these selections are top notch. You’ll laugh, get spooked, be touched, and the misfires are over quickly. How many features can offer that?

A Short Film About Ice Fishing: This short is classified as a comedy, which is pretty messed up because the big payoff not only isn’t funny, it may be inhumane. Still acting and dialogue are the final nails.

All Consuming Love (Man in a Cat): This animated film from the U.K. has a rather bizarre sense of humor. Its subtitle is literal: The story is about a tiny man who lives in a cat and falls in love with a tiny woman. How he leaves the cat and where the couple decides to hide once they get together is best left a surprise.

Burials: A five-minute film about a man putting up fliers for his missing sister while his voicemail messages play in the background. It’s sad, but what he buries at the short’s end leaves a lingering puzzlement.

Friend Request Pending: A dame comes to D.C. Shorts! Judi Dench stars in this terrifically funny slice-of-life about an Internet-savvy woman (Dench) who’s been Facebook-stalking a possible suitor. Her eventual forwardness both terrifies and titillates her; ultimately this is a story about how crushes can bloom at any age. But the highlights are the words that come out of Dench’s usually mature mouth, including “skank” and “OMG.”

Liberty Road: A tale about paying it forward that’s too neat by half. A struggling bartender gets bad news, helps someone out, then she helps someone out, etc., until it comes full circle to the restaurant where dude tends bar, after he gets more bad news. But don’t worry, karma’s still in play! “I don’t know, maybe it all fits together?” the guy asks his wife. Ya think?

Photo: Don’t look at the genre this short is classified as if you’d really like its ending to be a surprise. Well, I suppose I have to give a hint: The story about a guy who’s having an I.D. photo taken gets deliciously creepy. Let’s leave it at that.

The Carrier: Rita Wilson stars in this nicely paced and -acted film about a young lothario who’s fatally hit by a car and unknowingly has a health issue. His mother (Wilson) takes care to tie up his affairs—both practical and romantic—and is shocked and seemingly moved when she discovers that he's been harboring a tremendous secret.

The Vacuum Kid: A doc about 12-year-old Kyle, who’s been a vacuum cleaner enthusiast since he was a toddler. You kind of laugh at the pudgy kid, especially at moments such as when he responds to seeing a particular model with, “Hubba hubba hubba.” But then you hate yourself when he says, “I was very nervous to tell my friends at first” and admits that he’s somewhat ostracized for his hobby. But it’s terrific to see how he just brushes off the haters, giving this advice to a 4-year-old fellow Hooverphile who’d written him: “Never let anybody discourage you from collecting anything.”

Thursday, Sept. 6 at 6:30 p.m. at U.S. Navy Memorial

Sunday, Sept. 9 at 4 p.m. at E Street Cinema

Thursday, Sept. 13 at 5 p.m. at E Street Cinema

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