Based on a quote by Ira Glass, "Still Life"
tells the story about a photography student who wrestles with his thoughts about his creativity and talent.
Written By: Chris Esper
Directed By: Chris Esper
Creativity is a funny thing, after watching Director Chris Esper's short film Still Life, I can not help but think that my thoughts on his film actually mirror the plot line that this film follows. I kind of got a laugh out of that but the reality is not quite so amusing. In my humble opinion, everyone has the capacity to be one of those 'creative type people'. The problem, as this short demonstrates, is that everyone has their own opinion on what's cool, what looks cool and what can be cool. The 'mainstream' creative people happen to find a common thread or stumble upon a time sensitive theme or look. But does that make someone who is equally artistic, and who does not happen to see that common thread any less mainstream or brilliant? Is my use of the word mainstream completely off base? We all know of people who create something only to have it looked at in a negative light... until years later. Than they are considered ahead of their time. It's a slippery slope this reviewing thing. So, in regards to the overall plot of Still Life, I wanted to rate a 5.0! However, it just doesn't work that way when reviewing a short film. So, I decided to rate it from a technical viewpoint.
Still life more less lives in that place that is sort of like reality based TV with a hint of old school cinema. At least, that is how it seemed to me. Nothing really bad or good about the characters and generally, at times felt like a made for TV special. That is not a bad thing all in all. When I say nothing really good or bad about the characters, I am also talking about the normality of them. In real life, not everyone is a boring slug, and not everyone is completely over the top. The characters/people that populate Chris Esper's world are the people next door, our friends or our enemies. No complaints, but nothing that flies out at me.
The overall camerawork is more or less standard which is a little odd since this is a film about photography! However, there are a few gem shots squeezed in to make your 12 minutes good ones. Some pretty decent editing but nothing to flashy. In that respect, it may have been on purpose. I would like to say by the books editing, but that's not quite right. So I will stick to calling it pretty decent editing. Not flashy, but not boring. To the point... the editing style fits Still Life rather well. Now, the aspect of this film that really hurt it in my opinion - The sound. That is a funny thing when we consider that this film is about photography, anyone who dabbles in this business knows the ongoing debate. It goes something like this: " Put all your time in the visuals." Person B: " No. Put your time into the audio!", and here we are. I gotta say that the audio here jumps from crystal clear during one cut. To noisy and garbled in the next, and it does this through the entire film. No middle ground. No attempt to smooth it out. Just bang! I watched using headphones, which made it that much worse.
All in all, if you can get past the flaws in the sound, you will rate Still Life higher than I did. As a short film, there is no complaints about the entertainment value. I loved the plot Chris Esper has explored, and it is done with some style! But as soon as you add sound to the mix, a film becomes an experience for both the ears and eyes. I just feel that the audio is not even in the same field as the cast or crew here. Does this mean to stay away? Not a chance. Still Life presents 12 minutes of entertainment you will be happy you got to experience. However, do not take my word for it. When you can... see for yourself.!
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