film reel image

film reel image

Saturday, January 28, 2023

The 34th Annual Notre Dame Student Film Festival, January 27-29th, 2023

I've been covering the Notre Dame Student Festival on and off since 2014. Here are some of the highlights from this year along with favorable ratings:

For Better, For Worse * * * Stars

-This is a film noir about infidelity, murder, and the almighty ladies man. For Better, For Worse thinks in cuts, lots of close-ups, and rack focusing. There's also a pseudo twist at the end. Impressive for what fatalism can achieve in just over 7 minutes.

Win Win * * * * Stars

-For me, the best entry in this year's ND festival. Everything splashes onto the screen. Lightning quick editing with NBA star/real estate developer Pat Connaughton bringing a cocky air about him and a beguiling confidence to the proceedings. Who says there's no life after basketball (when you're still actually playing basketball). 

It's Draining * * * Stars

-Lots of even-keeled narration, a solid silent performance, and some jump cuts inhabit this short about a girl who I guess has mental health issues. It's Draining is the equivalent of a cinematic haiku. It's over before you know it but the 4-minute song playing all the way through translates nicely with the rhythms of the actors. 

Waiting For Buffalo * * * 1/2 Stars

-You could watch this docu about bison from beginning, middle, or end. It just sort of floats with beautiful cinematography, somber tones, and shots that look like slow burn portraits. Mutedly epic stuff. 

I Might Be Crazy But I Ain't Dumb * * * Stars

-Guy co-stars in The Dukes of Hazzard and uses his fame to build a souvenir shop in Virginia. If you're a fan of "Dukes" (and I am), then this documentary will make you feel nostalgic and just plain wistful. The archive footage from the actual TV show splices well with the present day stuff. "G-G-G!"

Silent Steel * * * Stars

-Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" glosses over clips of a Michigan dude making animalistic, metal sculptures. I dug it, especially the seething screen presence of sculpture Ivan who probably didn't even know he was being filmed (but you know he was aware). Indelible imagery. 

Lily * * * 1/2 Stars

-Clean storytelling and crisp triaging highlight this documentary short about a young girl's battle with epilepsy. Who knew medicinal mushrooms were the answer to improving her condition. And who knew Lily's ten-minute running time would be so radiantly hopeful and heartfelt at the same time. I did as well as the rest of the audience.

Written by Jesse Burleson 

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