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|Second Sight Cinequest Short Films Vol 2|
Watch these seven short films transform from light and funny to heartfelt and dramatic, as they explore issues of relationships further complicated by sexual desires. Conehead — It's a very hot day and Conehead is in pu... more »
For "Last Call"
Al Basile | Rumford, RI | 01/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While every entry in this collection of short films has its rewards, "Last Call", the longest film here at close to a half hour, is worth the modest price of admission by itself. The best combination of ambitious writing, subtle and honest acting, and throughly realized visual storytelling here, "Last Call" brings together two damaged and mistrustful souls (played with great courage and vulnerability by Dana Dewes and Jude Ciccolella, whom many viewers will know from his continuing role in television's "24" and a memorable sequence in "Sin City") in a late night blue collar bar in Queens. Dewes' Lanie is a part time singer who says she wants to pose for Playboy; Ciccolella's Ross is an often silent, scarred presence in his brother's bar who underplays his violent past. They act out a complicated after hours emotional dance, with feints of bravado followed by retreat behind various poses, and we wonder if they'll drive one another off, or if their orbits will decay and the powerfully evident need each has will bring them together. The toughness of the dialogue is pierced by moments of searing honesty, and the street guises could wear thin in a hurry if the actors let up for a moment. Director Robert Bailey's long theater background serves him well here - in a film that dares to stand or fall on the performances, he gets brilliant work out of both actors, who are compellng throughout. Bailey uses the single-room bar setting like a stage, but one where his camera is a missing third character - it follows the action into every corner of the bar in rhythmic counterpoint to Ross and Lanie's give and take. Medium distance shots emphasize the surging physicality of the actors, and the closeups keep us from missing even one nuance of feeling as it flickers across their faces. The director's naming of Kieslowski as an influence is no idle claim; like the Polish master, Bailey lets us watch Dewes and Ciccolella as they listen to each other, often cutting away from the speaker in over the shoulder shots. While he doesn't use ambient sound as variously, Bailey uses silence with great daring, and the few examples of music stand out. This is rich visual storytelling, where all the elements are in balance and each pulls its weight. We can't help caring about the characters and their fate, and at the end of the half hour we know we've been somewhere. All of these people deserve to work at greater length - see them now before they make the great feature films that are clearly in them."