Sundance 2021 review: ‘Raspberry’ is perfect short film for when words fail.

Raspberry

Synopsis:

“Undertakers wait on a family’s final farewells as one son struggles to say goodbye to his dead father.”

There are 5 stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Everyone has their own style. No one can tell you how to process the death of a loved one. Raspberry is a fantastic example of the nuanced responses. From inspirational speeches, well wishes, to tears… and even perhaps an inside joke. It doesn’t feel like a natural process to the living. Raspberry confronts this in the most honest way. I had to watch this short twice and it was even more brilliant the second time around. It’s the specifically subtle reaction to the climactic moment that got me. Oh, and that final line. The look and cinematography are great, but writer/director Julian Doan‘s script combined with stellar performances make Raspberry as impactful as it is. I hope anyone who has ever lost someone close to them gets to live in this film for its 7-minute runtime.

RASPBERRY  Directed and Written by Julian Doan

Short Films Program — Acquisition

Starring Raymond Lee, Alexis Rhee, Joseph Lee, Gihee Hong, Molly Leland, and Matt Kelly

Produced by Turner Munch and Brianna Murphy

To access Raspberry in the Shorts Program you can click here!

Review: ‘SMALLER AND SMALLER CIRCLES’

Two Jesuit priests perform forensic work to solve the mystery revolving around the murders of young boys in one of Metro Manila’s biggest slum areas. While dealing with the systematic corruption of the government, church and the elite, the two priests delve into criminal profiling, crime scene investigation and forensic analysis to solve the killings, and eventually, find the murderer.

Based on the award-winning novel by Filipino author F.H. Batacan, SMALLER AND SMALLER CIRCLES illustrates the best and worst of human nature: the antiseptic and dirty, the sublime and rotten, the hellish and divine.

With an unusual premise of having priests specialize in forensics, Smaller and Smaller Circles opens with haunting music and a disturbing image. Setting the stage for a mystery no one wants to delve further into. It addresses corruption in every corner of the church. Driven by greed and in the interest of reputation over the safety of the community’s young boys, we are witness to evil in many forms. A moody tone is set, eerily similar to the feeling Season 1 of True Detective gave us. The film could have easily been a mini-series. The final scene leads me to believe that this story isn’t over, in a sense. At the very least, our leading  characters have more work they can do. I, for one, would be invested in another film if not a redeveloped series, altogether. There are more details, I can only assume, the novel addresses. The story feels incomplete, only in the sense that I wanted more. Ultimately, this is a compliment to the intricacy of the storyline. The forensics aspects are intensely graphic but profoundly effective. The acting from ancillary characters is a bit spotty. It feels as if locals without experience were used to fill those roles. Though, I must give credit to each lead. Fully fleshed out backstories were felt even if we didn’t see them. This is yet another reason I would watch an expanded version. Smaller and Smaller Circles is undeniably engrossing.

SMALLER AND SMALLER CIRCLES was directed by Raya Martin and written by Raymond Lee and Ria Limjap.  The film features both English and Filipino language.  It has a running time of 111 minutes and will not be rated by the MPAA.

Uncork’d Entertainment will release the film in Los Angeles and additional select markets on March 1.  It will then be released digitally on March 19 (iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play, Fandango Now, Xbox and local Cable).