Showcase 10, “Guardian Angels,” is all about the folks that watch over us, whether they are family, strangers, or the actual Prince of Darkness. It is no coincidence that the best film of this batch is also the shortest: there are degrees of brevity, even within a showcase of short films, and brevity is always king.
GnomeThis is an adorably wicked cartoon about a gnome who lives in a tree, and how he deals with a cute, noisy neighbor. I hate mouth sounds, too, so I can’t say I blame his disproportional response to a mild distraction.
Stay AwakeTwo brothers go to extreme lengths to take care of their mother, who is borderline catatonic. This affecting short showcases the bureaucratic nightmare that sometimes defines home healthcare. The muted, low-key cinematic approach is a strong counterpoint to the powerful emotions that lead to its climax.
The Divine StrategyDissatisfied with empty pews, a French-Canadian priest goes to extreme lengths in order to reinvigorate his parishioners. The short is well-acted and elegantly shot, and yet the filmmakers march toward an obvious, pat conclusion. They want their film to feel sinister, and lack the requisite surprise.
The GnomistLittle gnome-sized houses appear around a Kansas park one morning. This documentary is about how the houses capture the imagination of the townsfolk. It is interesting to see how whimsy leads to greater depth of feeling, except the filmmakers do not trust their premise enough, and make The Gnomist a touch too maudlin.
The OrchestraThis is another cartoon, except it’s about a team of tiny musicians who provide background music for every normal-sized human. The use of music is inventive, even funny at times. But the dearth of dialogue means its fifteen-minute running time drags the story toward tedium.
Showcase 11 screens today at 7 p.m. and Thursday, Sept. 15 at 5 p.m. at Landmark’s E Street Cinema.