The Gazebo with a View
27 Sept 2021
Yui Kalberg, Gail Taplin, Dean Forrester
An anthology short film made up of three even shorter short films, none clocking in at more than a few minutes, each introduced with its own old timey title card, and all revolving around a park gazebo. This dearly modest endeavour is directed by the splendidly named James Short, who caps a great couple of days for fans of nominative determinism. I watched The Gazebo with a View the day after the BBC sent reporter Phil McCann to cover panic buying at petrol stations, so you can appreciate my titillation.
In chronological order, the three stories are:
Social Club? : Two pals sit in the gazebo discussing a screenplay, one hears a groaning sound in the distance. He leaves gazebo to find the source of the groan, which is coming from a bloke who has spent the night sleeping in the park after enjoying his “social club” celebration a little too much.
The Perfect Swipe : Someone talking on his phone in the park gets his chocolate bar stolen by a masked man (this one is my favourite).
Who The F--- Is Lilly? : Two characters who we will simply call “Girlfriend” and “Boyfriend” are sitting in the gazebo when Girlfriend confronts Boyfriend about a text she has discovered on his phone. As the title implies, she wants to know who “Lilly” is. He pleads that it’s only his boss, but she doesn’t believe him.
Let’s make several things clear. This is a student film that looks like it was filmed with a camcorder, and employs student actors, or more likely students as actors. As such it’s difficult to judge the work by the same criteria one would judge professional filmmaking. On the flipside, students have produced professional grade films before, so there’s only so much leeway you can give James Short for his choppy 360p miniature.
But at the same time, there’s something endearing and above all else fun about amateur filmmaking (as opposed to amateurish filmmaking) of this ilk. It’s like watching a secondary school play, and whether the comical effect was intentional or not, I had fun watching it—particularly “The Perfect Swipe”, which might be the sweetest mugging ever put to film.
Unfortunately, I’m bound by professional duty to give this park bench triptych a solitary star. But as solitary stars goes, it’s one of the brighter.