All diabetics are in the frame for cold-blooded murder in Aircraft Productions’ first short film, Chocolate City. And if this sounds bonkers, you should also know that this murder takes place on ‘Chocolate Day’, a beloved holiday where the whole world abandons work and routine to celebrate and indulge in the sweet stuff.
But Chocolate City is as delightful as it is loopy, a surreal homage to Noir that is as sweet as the chocolate itself.
Private Detective Walt Slater (Saul Davidson), recently lauded for cracking a big case, is called out for the inconceivable – a murder has been committed on ‘International Chocolate Day: a day of peace and love’. At the scene of the crime he meets Electra Mystique (an excellent femme fatale from Marissa Bonnar), and falls madly in love, the way they do in the movies. As for murder, who would do such a thing? Surely only someone who hates chocolate! Enter the diabetic gangs ‘Onesies’ and ‘Twosies’. On his quest for the truth, Walt Slater will encounter thugs, gangsters, double-crossing and threats to his family… and will collect some informative pamphlets along the way. Was it Tommy Two-Steps? Franky Two-Bullets? Or was it a crime of passion after all?
There is much to admire here: the effect of chiaroscuro is stunning and the use of archive footage of New York is inspired. It’s laugh-out-loud funny with some perfect comic timing and the performances, notably from the female members of the cast, are delightful. Above all, there’s something special about watching a film where everyone involved is clearly having a blast; it’s catching. Aircraft Productions describe themselves as ‘three boys (Arthur, Harvey and Michael) who make surreal films’, and it’s clear they’re having a lot of fun doing it.
The New York accents in Chocolate City are, shall we say, variable, but this work is gleefully self-aware: in one scene the background chatter of the city is simply the universally recognised New York for coffee, quarfee, muttered over and over.
There’s also the small issue of the anachronisms which, like the accents, detract from the mood a little. We expect this to be 1940s set, so what is that Ford Focus doing there? And that piece of furniture? And while we are at it, why on earth is there a hat in the fridge? It doesn’t make sense but that’s beside the point: this is an entertaining film that does not take itself too seriously and neither should you - it is chocolate day, after all.