The second short film showcase, subtitled "Satellite of Love," isn't nearly as strong as Program One, but does feature several very effective short films. The short format is one that is largely ignored by most moviegoers, but the ability to tell a complete story in a limited time frame is no easy task, and I encourage everyone to seek out short films whenever possible.
Another Time, Maybe is a very simple story of two strangers meeting on a city street and realizing they have a past connection. The film reminds us that the specter of 9/11 still haunts New Yorkers more than a dozen years on. The black and white photography is stark and lovely.
Kush is probably the best short I've seen thus far; it's a historical drama dealing with the murdering of Indian Sikhs after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984. The story is a personal one, centering on an elementary teacher trying to protect her students as they return home from a field trip amidst the riots. Powerful and with the tension of a thriller condensed into about fifteen minutes.
Fortune House is a sweet love story between a shy waitress at a Chinese restaurant and the apparently autistic man who eats there every night. The twist at the end is funny, though a little unbelievable. A nice film that doesn't overstay its welcome.
Penny Dreadful is an attempt to duplicate the mood and black humor of Fargo, and it almost works. A petty criminal kidnaps a little girl for a ransom and things inevitably go awry. The acting by the young girl playing Penny is a little too precious, and her psychotic nature seems a little over the top and nothing more than a plot device. It still has some amusing moments though.
Salvatore is a very short film that aims to show what lengths the Catholic Church will go to preserve itself. The ailing Pope dies for seven minutes and wants to share with the world what he did, or did not experience. The film hits you over the head with its message, which is neither subtle nor particularly original.
I hesitate to criticize Meet My Rapist, because I recognize that it is a very personal project for filmmaker Jessie Kahnweiler. The premise is clever: a rape victim, whose assault informs everything she does, has her rapist's presence in her life made literal and physical. The short goes for laughs but I found the whole thing just made me uncomfortable, which I think is the point.
Verbatim takes the actual transcript from a court proceeding and turns it into dialogue for a short film. Proving the adage that truth is stranger than a fiction, the film gets a lot of laughs from how amazingly obtuse people can be. Very funny.
Michael Cera brings the star power to Gregory Go Boom, in which he plays an antisocial misanthrope in a wheelchair. The acting is fine, but I can't even begin to describe how much I hated this movie. The ending, which I won't reveal, seems to exist solely for shock value but the entire thing seems like a pointless exercise in combining Gummo and Napoleon Dynamite.