The short film – now a staple of American and international filmmakers and filmmaking – has adjusted itself to serve many needs. Two – featuring international actress Chantel Casutt – read like sermons and parables.
Reviews by Evan Meena
Roy Shellef’s CALL ME DEVIL is a silent film/music video hybrid with Miguel Del Campo starring as “Broken Man” (no “the” or “a” so one might let it ride as his name) on a road to disaster of truly not his own choosing.
We meet this poor soul as he is (in an indeterminate period of time but we gather quite close to each other) looses his job, girlfriend, and home. The brief film takes us for a walk on what becomes his decent into criminality … or possibly (thanks to a clever idea by Shellef and equally clever camera work by Joshua Wallace) somewhere or someplace darker.
On the topic of dark, Chantal Casutt plays – no sugar coating it – the Devil. Riffing on Fellini’s segment of Histoires extraordinaires, Shellef’s Devil is a young mischievous girl goading her prey. Shellef spends time on a segment in which Broken Man steals a pack of playing cards. More than when his life of crime grows larger. This is an inspired touch as Shellef shows us how little it takes to succumb to – not evil – but our own negativity. Juggling sexuality with innocence, Casutt excellently offers us a playful girl maybe dancing at a club or maybe eating Broken Man’s soul. Del Campo gives us a character that looks like if Buster Keaton played Faust. Deadpan, then manic, then pained, we all can identify with life seemingly plotting against us. Del Campo realistically carries his cross throughout the film – until he puts it down.
The end is the twist from such tales. One might see the parable of Walter White but with a satanic touch in the climax.
Shellef is known for taking simple situations and finding a universe of interpretation behind them – and then presents it to audiences with beauty, expertise, and flare.
Speaking of silent films … Mohamed Maged took simple good manners and turned it into a comic episode of The Twilight Zone with Trapped.
Shivan Verma is rude. Slamming into someone and knocking them, and their groceries, to the floor, and then continuing on his path is an everyday occurrence (especially in NYC) but here it’s different. Somehow he becomes condemned to circle that block for all eternity – a modern Sisyphos in some ways. While this sounds dire, Verma’s total confusion ad eventual silent film style tantrum gave us a palpable level of humor in this eerie idea of a film.
Chantal Casutt appears in this as the young woman whose groceries are dashed on the ground by the careless Verma. However, Maged – upon Casutt’s reentrance – changed his style from a one camera far shot to eerie closeups and enigmatic smiling from Casutt, whose smile tells us there is something happening here and she knows about it.
Watched separately, these two films are two cautionary tales but put together we get the idea to beware Casutt … as she may have strong connections to the REAL underworld.