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Wine and Die

by Oomen Nature


Some nice directing and competent performances throughout. A relief to finally have a team interpret “gatekeeper” in the more modern figurative sense.

The light switch joke was so unbelievably funny to me but I also think so subtle that I’m the only one in the audience to burst out laughing which was a little awkward (also didn’t help that it took me a few seconds to piece together the joke).

The film does a good job at defining its characters and having rising tension with a little bit of mystery. I like what happened at the end, but I feel it all happened a bit fast and is something audience members could easily have misunderstood. I think the film could use a little bit tighter focus on keeping the pace more even so that jokes have time to land and using editing to direct the audience’s attention toward the crucial story elements (and light switch jokes).

Technically really superb from a camerawork point of view, I think the framing was absolutely bulletproof from start to finish on this film with everything in razor sharp focus and excellent understanding of light sources. If you had used a more inventive location than somewhere, practically anywhere other than your living space I expect you'd be up for the cinematography award in Christchurch.

Reminiscent of SINGLES but with a hipster whodunnit vibe, some of the dialogue was really high quality such as the argument about the punk status of Machine Gun Kelly versus the Sex Pistols. Good red herrings as well also to really sell the tone of the film.

Ultimately I think the sinister payoff needed to be earned a bit more.

Keep it up though please, huge talent in this team as performers also had great screen presence. A more focused narrative and finals won't be far away.

Story: 2/5
Technical: 4/5
Elements: 3/5
Overall: 2.5/5

The strength of this short was within its first half. The dinner successfully created a lot of uneasiness and built intrigue. The performances at this point were really strong too and aside from the unnatural competition nod "Who made you the gatekeeper of punk?" line (and this was nothing to do with the delivery, just a personal bug-bear of mine in the comp this year that reminds of the days of the compulsory line and how jarring they could be), the dialogue was also successful in adding to the tension.

For me, the film loses it a lot in the second half as not only does the technical quality fall away a bit there're just a few too many things that happen out of convenience. I wish you'd sustained a more serious tone throughout. The little moments of humour like the light-switch bit seemed at odds with what was really transpiring in the film. It seemed like it was lifted from ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING. The accidental ending is also somewhat comical and the husband's reaction is somewhat at odds with who his character was previously. Leaving things a little more ambiguous may have had a greater impact. I know he drinks the wine but is he drinking "the wine"? And telling someone in person that they've left a letter for you explaining something in the very house you're in seems a bit strange - wouldn't you just leave it and wouldn't a more likely reaction be "just tell me now?" Or, would that be a message sent later on? I suppose the answer is we only have 5 minutes!

On that note, this must have really been pushing the time limit as you had no credits? Maybe cutting down or out the opening argument would have allowed a bit of breathing space. Again, I think the dinner established everything going wrong with the relationships at the table.

As mentioned in other reviews, the film looks great around the dinner table and is edited during this scene to show subtle reactions to the conversation. At this point, a lot is left unsaid that is plainly obvious, and I love this approach. The timing or placement of a few scenes did leave me confused - they're suddenly going home and then it fades down and up into the presentation of a contract? Just didn't fit.

Overall, a pretty solid film but its slightly inconsistent tone left me somewhat unsure about a place in the CHCH final.

An incredibly well shot film - a level of cinematography that is such high quality that it's probably the biggest strength this film has, and successfully masks some of the flaws. Everything from the lighting to the framing is 10/10, and the kinda stuff you see at the Grand Finals, let alone the city finals.

But, alas, Oomen Nature doesn't quite make it this year, and I think this comes down to a story which at times was a little too complicated, and at other times was a little too convenient.

I found myself quite confused over the four characters' relationships, and maybe it's just coz I have mild face blindness and couldn't remember which characters were married, which were related, which were cheating on each other and which were in business together. On top of this, the placid domestic scene felt like it didn't quite earn the murder premeditation which ripples through the story - Nor did I quite buy the adulterers would be so blatant in front of their spouses, nor did I quite buy that one character would confess to everything via a note dropped off IN PERSON, nor did I quite buy your (perhaps unintentionally comedic) ending in which a character just slips and falls on a knife.

I guess all of these notes are around the world you'd set up and how realistic it felt for these characters to behave in certain ways. Tonally it felt grounded, but the events felt like something from a game of Cluedo.

It feels like you'd landed on a good premise - two couples having dinner but there's a darkness bubbling below the surface - but then you crammed in every possible idea you could instead of just following up on one story thread, which is all you really have time for in five minutes.

Last note - I think it's pretty funny that both TheRealClose and Steelpotato praise your gatekeeper mention, because I'm with MistaTeas on this one, it felt like you had such a quintessential and clear example of a gatekeeper, that when the characters says "Who made you the Gatekeeper of punk?" the audiences who'd already sat through dozens and dozens of short films which used "gatekeeper" in their dialogue, could be audibly heard deflating. What it feels like is you weren't sure it'd be clear if this counted as gatekeeper, so you clarified in the dialogue, and I'm here to tell you that I am ready to believe whatever interpretation of the elements you have - you don't NEED to say it aloud.

Challenge for next year: Keep up this impeccable cinematography, but definitely focus on telling a simpler story. If you can tell a simple story with your expert camera work, you'll do so well in the competition.

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