Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Angel Connell Finds the Attention Deficit Disorder in All of Us: "Beneath the Veneer of a Murder" (2010)

Short film master Angel Connell returns, messing with his audience's minds and their attention spans.

This is a short film. Seven and a half minutes short. The film opens with credits, and a phone conversation. Criminal Judd (Eric Scheiner) calls Tom (Mark Grant) looking for Tom's wife Daisy (Jennifer McCartney), who was having an affair with Lolita (Christy Scott Cashman). Daisy owes Judd money, and when Judd went to Lolita's to collect, he found Bartlesby (Angel Connell) and beat him up. Bartlesby told Judd where Lolita was hiding, and Judd went there.

And that's where the audience sees Judd and Lolita. Lolita is passed out, Judd finds some newspaper pieces, but no money, and strangles Lolita with her own stocking (this would make an interesting double bill with Connell's "Stocking Stuffers," also featuring Scheiner and Scott-Cashman). Credits roll again as we find out what happened to Judd seconds after he killed Lolita, and the rest of the unseen cast.

I watched "Beneath the Veneer of a Murder" twice. Background information on the film shows that Connell wants his audience to question what they see and hear in this era of bait-and-switch governing and news reporting. I cannot be the only one to get caught up in a news channel's ticker, and ignore the talking heads, and vice versa. Our government officials do this sort of thing all the time, catering to their base supporters, offering olive branches to the opposition, catering to the opposition, offering olive branches to the betrayed base. Connell does not show us this tactic on a big scale. He satisfies our base movie going needs- sex and violence- by showing only Judd and Lolita's scene. The final conversation between Tom and Daisy over the end credits is so outlandish, I laughed out loud. Were the couple's communications being monitored? Did they believe everything they were saying about Judd and Lolita?

This film is worth a couple of views, and not simply because Connell comes through with technical proficiency yet again (and some great editing by Christo Tsiaras, especially the live action scene). Connell is pointing out some big ideas here, and the film makes you think...or is it really just about a small-time hood and a murder? Hmmm... This is a great experiment in short film making, and I haven't been challenged this much since I saw "FrICTION." Really good stuff. (* * * * *) out of five stars.