Embrace Your Inner Grump with "Curmudgeons"

Curmudgeon. Yes, let’s start with the word. Funny little piece of vocabulary there, right? So, what exactly is a curmudgeon? My pal Merriam-Webster tells me that it’s “a person (especially an old man) who is easily annoyed or angered and who often complains.” In that case, it’s a word that looks/sounds exactly like what it means. It’s ridiculous, a bit angry looking and doesn’t really roll off the tongue very well. However, there is no better word for Danny DeVito’s recent Vimeo Staff Pick Premiere, “Curmudgeons”, because...well, it’s the title of the film, sure…but it comes to mean so much more by the end. DeVito’s short (written by the brilliant Joshua Conkel) takes place at an assisted living facility, showcasing the shocking yet endearing relationship between two foul-mouthed aging senior citizens. By their sides are their respective (and equally crude) children. Production of this film was quite the family affair as well, with Danny DeVito's kids, Jake and Lucy, onboard. At is plays out, “Curmudgeons” becomes both vulgar and beautiful - often within the same breath. In an instant, a single line of dialogue can go from filthy slur to totally lovable phrase. By the end, the off the wall surprise in the story comes so naturally that you can’t help but smile getting to know these grumpy old men, their families and the strange manner in which they all show they care. Because of the sometimes foul language swordplay, the whole film is like a storybook romance you hide from your kids but secretly enjoy in private. One of the highlights of this short is character actor David Margulies, remembered in quite the role. Though he passed away earlier this year, Margulies was thankfully able to see a cut of the film. Hopefully, he would have been a bit of a grump (to stay in character) but beyond proud of the final product. His talent is honored in a bittersweet way, giving this short an extra layer of magic. The way his character bounces off of the others is sheer acting beauty. With DeVito’s delicate yet exact directing and Conkel’s narrative foundation, the whole package is enhanced to a different dimension. Premiering at Tribeca Film Festival and winner of the Indie Street Film Festival’s New Jersey Short Audience Award, NJ-native DeVito attracted the crowds, the love and the adoration he deserves from all audiences. He's a legend. So, when a legend makes a thing you better believe that thing is gonna be A+. “Curmudgeons” was the perfect kick off for Vimeo’s new Staff Pick Premieres. It’s like a song, but instead of notes, it uses humor and potty mouth humanity, written in a way that humans really didn’t know they needed until they found this film. Yea, you read that right. You need this film. A legend begets a legendary little short. So, come on, dummy, time to see the damn thing! If “Curmudgeons” doesn’t make you wanna embrace your inner curmudgeon, then I don’t know what will. After watching, you may just realise that there is an advantage to embracing vulgarity and being a lovable little pain in the butt yourself! Take a few minutes out of your day and watch Devito's grumpy, lovable film, now playing on Vimeo


Featured Short: Kim Sherman's "Dogwalker"

Let me paint a picture for you, dear reader: Woman walks dogs for a living. Woman finds her client’s dog dead. Woman stuffs dog’s body into a suitcase and heads for the train. Woman meets a nice, handsome fella’ who gives her a hand. And then, suddenly: Bloody-nose woman heads home empty handed.  Got all that? If so, would you believe me if I told you it all happens in the same short film, in under 12-minutes? Peaked your interest? Wondering where it all went wrong? Keep reading because filmmaker Kim Sherman’s 2016 award-winning film "Dogwalker", now available online, is the stuff of urban legends. Like long-standing myths, campfire stories, drunken party memories passed from person to person, “Dogwalker” is like a total dark fairy tale from another reality. It’s a bittersweet film that almost plays out as a non-story until the very end when you can’t believe what you’ve just witnessed. Trust me, you won’t leave this film silently in the past. You’re going to want to tell someone…anyone…about this one. A sweet rendition of a tale you may have heard in passing, complete with pastel hues and quirky emotions, Sherman’s short dark comedy is a must-watch. Check out the surreal film below and then do your part and pass it on!  

Featured Short Film: "Emotional Fusebox"

Mondays. They always come back around too quickly. But hey! Mondays are also a time for featured Indie Street shorts, so they can't be all that bad, eh? How about we brighten up the beginning of your workweek with another amazing online short film?! Last week, we featured a review on Rachel Tunnard's "Adult Life Skills", a whimsical meditation on one woman's stunted emotional development and what it means to finally come of age (even at the rather adult age of almost 30). We mentioned in our review (time for a revisit!) that the 2016 Tribeca-winning filmmaker's feature was an expanded version of her BAFTA-nominated short (and pilot), "Emotional Fusebox". Well, we couldn't just leave it at that. We adored the British short so much, it just needed to be featured on its own. If you've ever had that feeling of being left behind in life, you need to watch this film. Both funny and heartbreaking, it takes two very different emotions and fuses them into a quirky yet relatable examination of what it means to finally face reality.  Jodie Whittaker plays Anna (the same role she reprises in "Adult Life Skills"), a reclusive young woman that lives in her mother's shed in the backyard. Burying herself away from the rest of the world and her own future, she spends much of her time in a fantasy, making little videos with her thumbs. She'd probably be content living out the rest of her life in the middle of this existential crises, but her mother has other plans. When a handsome stranger shows up with a bit of car trouble, this oddball little film takes an unexpected and dramatic turn that reveals exactly what past has caused Anna's stagnant present and directionless future. It's a beautiful transition from the absurd to just pure, bittersweet emotion, showing us that not everybody's story is as it seems.  What "Adult Life Skills" does in over an hour, "Emotional Fusebox" does in just 15 minutes. Charming with cozy, offbeat qualities, it's easy to see why the short transitioned so well into its successful feature length version. Because of Whittaker's likeability as a character and Tunnard's tight direction, both the short and long version of this story work like a package, complementing yet standing out on their own. Melodrama is left behind to reveal a rather easy going interpretation of what it means to have everything you need while feeling like you have nothing at all. In "Emotional Fusebox" we don't really get closure, only a shred of hope and a way to cope. And isn't that just how life really is? Tunnard does well not to wrap up Anna's story. No, like we mentioned about "Adult Life Skills" - life is bloody messy. So, like Anna, it's one step at a time towards the future. Take your first step now by checking out "Emotional Fusebox"!  

  Loving this film? You can watch more of the best (and free!) online shorts now on Indie Street!

Featured Short: "Killer", A Coming of Age Story

Growing up is hard. If you don't agree with that statement, you are probably either a baby or you have memory loss. Or maybe those formative years are so excruciatingly painful to recall, you've chosen to bury the memories deep down into your past. If that's so, no worries - you're not alone. When I was a child, I often felt like I was the only human being in the world and everyone else was a robot - or vice versa. As long as I felt like the odd one out, I felt comfortable. And though I spent the first five years of my life pretty much mute, that didn't stop me from thinking I could curse all the losers at school via telepathy. This was my "superpower", and because I didn't have many friends, no one could tell me otherwise. Behind my back, they would just call me adorable and shy. How little they knew of my powers! And then one day, just like that, I grew up. It's a hell of an awkward time to recall. Let's just say, thank god there wasn't middle school Facebook in the 1990s.  Did you have a "superpower" as a kid? One that made you a breed all your own? Impervious to all adults, geeks and bullies? Chances are, yea you did. Dusty, the young protagonist in Matt Kazman's festival favorite, "Killer", sure did. This unapologetic, 20-minute ride into adolescence is heightened and beautifully unforgiving in how it chooses to portray its particular brand of "coming of age". You see, Dusty's friends are spreading a sorta ol' wives tale that when you masturbate, somebody dies. This results in poor Dusty thinking that when he ... uh ... pleasures himself, he is capable of murder. And because of strange circumstances beyond his control, he's not crazy in thinking that. The first time he masturbates, his mother accidentally dies. The second time, a bird flies into the window and dies. Will there be a third time? Well, with the looming threat of the school bully weighing on him, he's willing to find out. Dusty's grief turns his "superpower" into a ticket - one that could possibly help him overcome the thick of that awkward inbetween time in life - between childhood and adulthood. Puberty, sex, experimentation, standing up for himself ... it seems touching is the cause and effect, or the answer, that he was looking for all along.  In the end, Dusty ... well, Dusty learns. Like I said, growing up is hard. There's no "superpower" that gets you through it all. You've got to learn for yourself through every awkward mistake and mishap. It just so happens Kazman gave his character one of the most solidly embarrassing ways to "come of age". "Killer" is fun, brutal, and hilarious while still embracing and balancing a necessary sadness. This is a dark comedy after all. Throughout the silliness of "Killer", we also see a young boy experience the loss of his mother and a newly widowed father learn to teach his son the right values in life. The two extremes meet in the middle and it just works. From being a hit everywhere from Sundance to Palm Springs, "Killer" came out on top of its festival run, earning the Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Short at the Seattle International Film Festival.  We've all been kids before and this short will remind you of how good it is to be a grown up. With age comes wisdom, so count your lucky stars your "superpower" was left in the past. But heck, for old times' sake, relive those years by checking out "Killer" now! Enjoyed this short? You can watch Kazman's other Indie Street featured short film, "Hasta La Vista", here!

ISFF Winner "Thunder Road" Now Available on Vimeo!

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Film at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival along with a slew of other awards, including the first ever Jury Prize for Best Narrative Short at our very own Indie Street Film Festival, Jim Cummings’ short “Thunder Road” has earned an impressive reputation. A cleverly directed and produced continuous one-shot film starring Cummings as an uptight cop at his own mother’s funeral, "Thunder Road" also stars a rather memorable eulogy involving one rather popular Springsteen song you won't soon forget. Perfectly executed from its sobering beginning to its hilarious yet touching finale, this a short film that balances both a tragic and comedic air so well that it seems to mesh into a completely new genre by the end.  Outside of all its festival wins, “Thunder Road” also gained recognition online when Cummings was granted digital rights to the Bruce Springsteen song of the same name, after he put out an open letter to the musical icon and record label that circulated the internet. Why did he do this? Simply to be able to release the film on Vimeo - for free to the public! And this is what he did. Today. So, now we can all enjoy this perfectly paced eulogy as it all goes to pieces and evolves into one of the greatest dance scenes ever committed to a short film.  A personal favorite of all of us over at Indie Street, we can’t recommend “Thunder Road” enough. Bill Augustin, ISFF Programming Director, stated: "Told in a single take, on the surface "Thunder Road" could be written off as a simple short more akin to a one act play than an award-worthy film. However, the emotional journey Jim Cummings takes us on through his mesmerizing performance and ultra-focused direction allows this pitch black comedy to transcend its simple concept. It was no surprise to us on the ISFF staff when the esteemed jury chose to honor it with the award for best narrative short." "Thunder Road” is now available to watch on Vimeo for free here! Give this clever, ridiculous and moving short a watch (or 2 or 3) and then spread the love and share it with everyone you know!

Featured Short Film: Outrageously Bizarre "Seth"

A crowd favorite at the midnight shorts program at SXSW, “Seth” is a comedy beyond outrageous. Honestly, it’s hard to find the exact words to describe this bizarre film from first-time writer and director Zach Lasry. Watch the film. Scratch your head. Ask yourself, “What the hell did I just watch?!” And then take a moment to reflect and finally realize that the film is genius in its otherwordly, imaginative way of holding nothing back. I found “Seth” somewhat relatable in a totally non-relatable way and I can’t really describe why. I encourage to go into the film blindly, expect the unexpected and then maybe you’ll understand. It’s all about the character here and the comedic structure built around him. Logan George plays this role in a performance like none other. The film follows the story of Seth, a demented, grown man-child that finally completes all his daily goals, surrounded by the support of his only friends, his stuffed animal collection. Unfortunately, his final goal of impressing his father becomes an adventure of self-worth and pride that Seth will stop at nothing to complete. From a luxurious four course spread of corn products to a reenactment of the Godfather, the one thing that finally brings the two together is best left unsaid and better watched. Find out the secret to father-son bonding and watch the hilariously insane film now!

Rest Stop: the Hilarious Yet Dark Side to Wanderlust

Ah, the millennials. Young, confused, stuck in a digital world and yet still full of such wanderlust. This is a generation that not only sees life through the rectangular screen of an iPhone. They also want to see the world - a world they believe will finally “get them” and allow them to be who they were destined to be. Sure, sounds silly, but I’m sure we all know someone that has accepted this philosophy as their own - and with no humility. I, myself, know of two acquaintances that have just recently quit their jobs and will be traveling into the unknown (AKA Europe) for the unforeseeable future (1-2 months). Gotta give it to them. Escaping reality is fun and we’re all a little jealous of the balls it takes to figure that out. Yet, sometimes, even in your greatest fantasy, reality comes rearing its ugly head. Case in point for actress Cari Leslie’s character Meredith in “Rest Stop”, a hilarious yet eerily real feeling short comedy by award-winning filmmaker Kate Herron.  The short follows a birdlike, hyper backpacker, Meredith, as she takes a short selfie and milkshake break at a dirty old British service station somewhere in the middle of her “life changing” trip around Europe. During what she thinks is downtime, she meets a mysterious man that claims he's her guardian angel and finally gives her direction to find meaning in her life. At least that’s what her naivety tells her. Little do we know, Meredith is so desperate for that meaning, she’s willing to gobble up any information that will help her on her path towards the rest of her (apparently short) life. Unfortunately, people aren’t always who they say they are, which gets our innocent little selfie snapping, blog writing Meredith into a bit of a pickle. A range of expressions from our two characters simply glows under the dimly lit rest stop, and a simple set up leads to a great looking film with emotions that actually feel vaguely familiar.  If you enjoyed the sharp humor of “Rest Stop”, good news! Herron and writer Monica Heisey are currently working on a feature length version of the film. Hopefully, the film will elaborate on our annoying yet lovable protagonist and pick up where it left off - on a journey into the wittiest unknown. Be sure to get onboard that adventure beforehand by watching the hilarious, short festival favorite now on Vimeo!  If you enjoyed “Rest Stop”, be sure to check out some more of the best shorts of the web!

Featured Short "Blood Drinker" Follows Tale of Unlikely

With high energy and a "bloody" unexpected conclusion, "Blood Drinker" packs in a wallop of a narrative in an extremely short running time. Our hip, moral hero Mikey, an insulted elderly dog named Blood Drinker, and a rather rude gang of men called the Coke Boys (donned in sweet Coca-Cola sweatshirts) make up this quirky yet straight to the point short film. Be warned, the film leaves you with an ending totally out of left field but just as satisfying as a swig of soda when you know it's bad for you.  Currently working on their first feature, it seems a total given that the Stas Brothers are sure to produce a hit based on the success of their prior work. It's just a question of how great and how weird that success will be! Check out some more of the most unique short films currently available!

"Inheritance": A Tale of An Unlikely Form of Magic

From documentaries (including his recent Sheffield Doc/Fest winner "Dear Araucaria") to the highly imaginative and low key hilarious narrative found within "Inheritance", director Matt Houghton's talents seem to naturally cover the full storytelling spectrum. "Inheritance" follows the story of Joe, a man that finds himself gaining an unlikely sort of inheritance as well as an appreciation for the unexpected. Punchy, short, smartly written, and crisply shot, this creatively kooky short film is definitely worth the quick watch. Be sure to check out Pulse Films' other unicorn-centric short film to get a glimpse into this weirdly magical yet totally nonchalant universe. The comedic, award-winning "Cool Unicorn Bruv", directed by Ninian Doff,  is also available on Vimeo ( and is a must watch for any unicorn obsessed film lover. If there was ever a platform and time to bring true awareness to the world of unicorn appreciation within short films, it would appear to be here and now! Check out more of the best short films on the web.

"Hasta La Vista": Exploring The Most Unlikely Earworm

Matt Kazman and Matt Porter's short "Hasta La Vista" is one of those films that may make you cringe as much as cheer. While cringing and laughing at the same time may look questionable, there's no questions about this film: it's a cracking good time from beginning to end. When socially awkward Andy (Josh Rabinowitz) offends his unlikely love interest at a party by confusing an obvious insult with a nursery rhyme about hippos, he embarks on a journey to clear his name and find the answer behind the hippo of all tunes. Little does he know, the answer literally sings to him in the most unlikely of places. Far from a nursery rhyme, will Andy ever discover the source of his anxiety and get the girl? With a longer running time of around 22 minutes, "Hasta La Vista" works well because it makes perfect usage of its length by spending plenty of time building its characters and setting them into motion. What starts as a party film quickly morphs into a detective film of adorably epic and quirky proportions. A well deserved Vimeo staff pick as well as an official selection at various festivals, including the LES Film Festival and the Austin Film Festival, both Matts, as well as lead actor/writer Josh Rabinowitz and cinematographer Ryan Nethery, definitely make a strong team of talent to be on the lookout for in the near future. "Hips like a hippity hippo" may be one of the most endearing and delightfully underhanded insults to be born from a film script. Be warned, you might find this earworm of a ditty playing in your head long after viewing, but you can trust me in saying that you'll be far from complaining after watching this film. Check out an interview the team did with Paste Magazine here. While you're at it, why not check out some more of the best shorts on the web. 

New Years Short Film Highlight: "Party Animal"

Former winner of the IFP’s Emerging Visions Award, Adam Bowers successfully envisions and brings to screen a humorously familiar party world with a disturbing side. His fun, party hard short film "Party Animal" introduces us to Chris, a lovable screw up that is both endearing and a sad excuse for an adult. As a man that hasn't quite outgrown his own party animal side, to disastrous results at that, let his story be an entertaining warning for us all this upcoming New Year's Eve. Will we celebrate in joyful moderation or ring in 2016 lost in a beer guzzling, champagne toting haze that would make this hardcore party animal proud?