Arts Desk

DC Shorts, Showcase 16: A Hunt for Toilet Paper

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

The trick with short films is that filmmakers don’t have time to flesh things out, but they risk rushing the story or being too vague. It’s a problem that pops up often throughout Showcase 16, with several of the entries lacking clarity or sufficient depth. There are more misses than hits, but there’s one tiny gem (First Date) and a good shock (Other).

Another Bullet Dodged: This drama about a woman having an abortion and her immature jerk of a baby daddy would be more satisfying if a question mark didn’t linger over the slight plot. You feel bad for her, but this guy’s no one to cry over.

Devoted Husband: A confusing thriller that mixes flashbacks with flash-further-backs to create a muddled, darkly filmed mess. A little physical light and longer-lingering shots would have shed more metaphorical light on the plot, which in broad strokes is about a daughter who seeks revenge for her cheating father.

First Date: This comedy is filmed like a horror story, because it partially is: It’s bad enough when, um, your stomach’s acting up when you’re at a date’s house. But what do you do when you can’t find any TP? Things turn incredibly gross here, but you’ll be giggling the whole time.

Madly Unto Eternity: Lots of plot is jammed into this short, which makes it ironic that the whole thing is pretty uninteresting. It begins with a guy in jail who was about to propose to his girlfriend and devolves into a so-so Mafia-esque drama from there.

One Nightstand: Despite the title’s spelling, this is not about a piece of furniture. A couple who don’t even know each other’s names wake up handcuffed to a bed, and shrillness—then, unbelievably, tenderness—ensues. You may care if they both weren’t so antagonistic.

Other: Melodramatic, dark, and grotesque, this thriller involves a terminal cancer patient who creates a Frankenmachine to try to heal himself. It’s somewhat confounding with an overly wordy voiceover, but ends on a perfectly quick and perfectly clear shudder-inducing note.

The Order: A fun game: Try watching this absurdist black comedy about a demanding restaurant customer with anyone who’s ever waited tables and count how may times they say, “Fuck this guy.” Both the customer’s and the chef’s behavior toward the poor waitress is ridiculous, and the apparent twist at the end is too vague to render any of the mistreatment amusing.

Saturday, Sept. 8 at 11:30 p.m. at U.S. Navy Memorial

Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 5 p.m at E Street Cinema

Sunday, Sept. 16 at 4 p.m. at U.S. Navy Memorial

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