Man vs. Nature

Four shorts by filmmakers affiliated with Columbia College. Jeremy Braverman's mild comedy Life Is So Easy (2001, 27 min.) concerns an aspiring writer (Marc Mozga) trying to cope with writer's block, noisy neighbors, a sex-starved girlfriend, and an overbearing father. The dysfunctional characters recall Mike Leigh, and the script includes some comic bits involving a Latino couple and a flamboyant ex-opera singer. The digital video Pretty Pretty Lonely (28 min.), also by Braverman, features mostly improvised dialogue by the director (playing a single guy who can't get a date) and Sara Laudonia (a neighbor he's attracted to). Their hesitant encounter, though marred by ping-ponging crosscuts, reveals Braverman's talent for emotional honesty. In John Guleserian and Christopher Ottinger's The Picnic (20 min.) a young man's trek through the woods is punctuated by flashbacks from his life in the city; the grainy stock, optical effects, and ominous urban imagery contribute to a sense of alienation. In Send It to the Sun (20 min.), by Mozga and Adam Avikainen, optical tricks smother the story of a curious (and possibly sadistic) boy playing by a pond.

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