Arts Desk

D.C. Shorts, Showcase 9: Poppin’ Valium

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

D.C. Shorts’ Showcase 9 is filled with despair. There’s one notable exception (Necking, which is as twee as it sounds) but largely these films draw out moments in which characters are most panicked, anxious, and fraught with feeling. Everybody wants something: revenge, the girl, power, success.

Angela Wright: Angela really, really, really needs to get into college—to satisfy her father, to honor her nonexistent mother’s Barnard College legacy, to (perhaps!) live up to her last name—and she’ll do, literally, anything. Especially the kind of dumb ish that only happens in Sweet Valley High novels.

Cart: One day, a shopping cart appeared outside of my apartment complex. It rested on the strip of grass between the sidewalk and the curb, facing Florida Avenue NW. The next morning, it had moved to the sidewalk at the intersection of Florida and New Hampshire avenues. And the day after that, it continued its stop-and-go southward march, stuck between a stop sign’s pole and an Express streetbox, within view of my building’s lobby. The shopping car remained wedged there for a few days, until it disappeared without a trace. Cart is kind of like that, except the shopping cart in question moves a lot faster and gets physically violent on the schlub against whom it’s established a vendetta.

Charlie: Gunfire! Gunfire! “Charlie’s down!” Things aren’t as serious as they seem, and Charlie gets back up. But this macabre take on innocent violence gets a whole lot worse.

Chase: When Mal visits Chase in the hospital after his brain surgery, he looks the same. But she quickly, painfully realizes he’s not the Chase she keeps remembering.

Child of the Desert: Two lost souls with little money take off for San Antonio. He speaks Spanish, she doesn’t. The language barrier isn’t the problem: While for a remarkably long 15 minutes the two leads in Child of the Desert manage to twist their mugs into expressions that intimate deep-seated emotional pain, it’s unclear why they’re so tortured.

Necking: People in their 80s and 90s with the cutest how-we-met stories ever (summer camp, the B train in Brooklyn) will make your OKCupid dating look cheaper and thinner than it already is.

Flowers for Amber Gordon: Twelve-year-old Benjamin is pretty good at swimming, but he’s only interested because, at the pool, he can see Amber. There are lots of dramatic shots of “Keep Calm and Carry On”-emblazoned mugs, presumably because Benjamin’s relationship with Amber sinks faster than the SS Athenia.

Wednesday’s Child: “I didn’t really mean to kill my parents.” No shit, kid, that’s a snowballing mess, even if your parents are creepy, unethical psychologists who’ve turned a coat closet into the Panopticon.

The Gay Who Wasn’t Gay Enough: Not every gay is an A-Gay, as Richard learns. Thankfully, he discovers Toronto’s gay rugby team. Wait, is this a short film or a commercial?

Saturday, Sept. 8 at 2 p.m. at E Street Cinema (followed by Q&A)

Sunday, Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. at U.S. Navy Memorial

Friday, Sept. 14 at 9 p.m. at U.S. Navy Memorial

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