July and Half of August - (Short Film)
12 Minutes | DCP
Screening Friday, April 21 at 1:00 pm just prior to the screening of "They Call us Monsters"
Matt Zoller Seitz
“Let’s just say that men and women have a different concept of time,” Neve (Annika Marks) tells her ex-lover Jack (Robert Baker) in “July and Half of August.” Like a lot of statements in this terse, piercing short film, which watches the former couple tie off loose ends during a single conversation at a dive bar, it is at once true and not true, analytical and self-serving. The film captures how a certain kind of smart person talks: sincerely and passionately, but also in a way that flaunts their education and intellect, in hopes of salving old wounds and convincing the listener that the image they’re trying to put forth is accurate, and not just hype or wishful thinking.
“July and Half of August” is directed by Brandeaux Torville, in stark black-and-white that evokes a Billy Wilder comedy, and written by film critic Sheila O’Malley, a regular contributor to RogerEbert.com. It is part of a projected feature film that tells the story of Jack and Neve’s relationship, which, as the title indicates, unfolded in about six weeks on summer, and that was so rooted in raw intellectual and sexual chemistry that neither party seems comfortable describing it as a relationship. I was lucky enough to attend the first reading of Sheila’s original version of “July and Half of August” a few years ago—one of those rare, welcome occasions when a friend asks you to give them notes on something they made and not only do you not have to struggle to come up with complimentary things to say, you run out of superlatives because the work is so good that you can feel the audience leaning forward in their seats to see what the characters will say next. What’s fascinating to me about this short, though, is that you can intuit what came before just from watching Marks and Baker talk, listen, chew ice, and fiddle with their hair or with the rim of a beer glass. Like a finely wrought minimalist short story, it sketches a key moment in two people's lives in a handful of words and images.