Written on 23rd Sep 2012.

Following the highly successful showings of its annual Oscar® Nominated Short Films, ShortsTV™ now presents STARS IN SHORTS, a celebrity-packed release of short movies featuring some of the world’s most recognized and celebrated stars. The program is a tour de force of award winning talent including Colin Firth, Judi Dench, Kenneth Branagh, Keira Knightley, Julia Stiles, Wes Bentley, Jason Alexander, Lily Tomlin and Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Prepare to laugh out loud, to be shocked and to love the endearingly quirky as they bring you some of your favorite stars as you’ve never seen them before.

The seven short movies showcased in ShortsTV™’s Stars in Shorts include:
View slideshow: Stars in Shorts

The Procession – Lily Tomlin seems to have a very fresh, new face in this short film, almost unrecognizable, but oh so lovely. She plays a mother to Jessie Tyler Ferguson’s son, both going to the funeral of a girl who was a friend of Lily’s daughter, but whom neither Lily nor Jessie had ever met. So, no emotional investment there. After the funeral, they get stuck in the car procession to the cemetery and stop at a red light. Now, the half of the procession behind them is following them and they don’t know where they’re going. This could happen to anyone, so we can all relate. But their emotionally roller coaster ride as they hunt for the burial site is something only these two comedians can pull off.

Steve – Colin Firth portrays an unusually needy neighbor to an exasperated Keira Knightley and a preoccupied Tom Mison in this intriguing and quirky movie. WIth each of Firth’s unnecessary visits to his neighbors, the emotional ante is upped and his mesmerizing acting skill rivets the audience. Fifteen minutes is all it takes to get the whole story and thrill at the interplay of these characters.

Sexting – Julia Stiles gives a standout performance as a young woman fed up with her relationship with a married man in this Neil LaBute-directed comedy. I could see the payoff as soon as Stiles sat down at the cafe where a woman was sitting and drinking some iced tea. Still, a monologue of over 7 minutes, with the actress looking straight into the camera, is a thing to behold. Stiles pulled it off with a combination of whimsy and control.

Not Your Time – Jason Alexander is an aspiring Hollywood screenwriter at the end of his rope in this engaging musical comedy. We watch Sid Rosenthal as a child about to have a colitis operation, then inspired by Sammy Davis, Jr., in ‘Golden Boy’ on Broadway, through his musical comedy education to his disappointments in the real world of Hollywood, till he decides to put an end to it, all to a fun soundtrack, eight dancers and one singer in the style of ‘All That Jazz’ (1979).
Prodigal – Starring Kenneth Branagh, Travis Crim (also writer) and Jennifer Morrison. Parents of a paranormal child enact a dangerous plan to free her from the frightening grip of a clandestine organization in this suspense-filled sci-fi thriller. Another take on the protect-the-gifted-child-from-scientific-research genre. It could have even been shorter than the 25 minute running time, with its over long scene with Branagh discussing the child’s future with her father, but the payoff 17 minutes in is worth the wait.

After School Special – Starring Wes Bentley, Sarah Paulson and written by Neil LaBute. A man and a woman have an awkward encounter at an indoor playground. I’m waiting to see if the stranger really has a child with him or if he’s a stalker. But LaBute, ever since his debut film ‘In The Company of Men’ (1997), has always been full of surprises and shocks. He leaves us with a big ‘Huh!?’ at the end of this 9 minute story. Yes, it has a beginning, middle and end, with lots to think about after.

Friend Request Pending – Judi Dench captures your heart while trying to navigate the complicated landscape of internet dating; with Tom Hiddleston. If two 16 year old valley girls had played the parts of Judi Dench and Penny Rider, the dialogue would be the same. This is the influence social media has on all, horny teens to senior ladies living in the British countryside. And these actresses ring as true in their performances as anyone looking for love on the net. LOL.

Starts September 28 at Opera Plaza Cinema in San Francisco, Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley, Camera 3 in San Jose, and Summerfield Cinemas in Santa Rosa.

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