Chris Bryant

Atropa (2015, Eli Sasich)

Atropa is just short enough–around nine minutes–not to be too frustrating in its failures.

Director Sasich–and his production designer, Alec Contestabile–do a great job creating this little space ship where the lead (Anthony Bonaventura) tools about and plays chess with his computer. Eventually he finds a ship and then things progress through a silly expository conversation scene (Sasich’s Alien nods are intentional, which is good because there’s nothing to the scene without them) and then a cliffhanger.

Only, while Bonaventura does a perfectly good job investigating the titular spaceship and so on, he’s not much of an actor. Neither are the other actors in the film. Of course, the script isn’t good either. Atropa is all style, no substance.

And it’s great style. Greg Cotten’s photography, the CG… all awesome. It’s a shame Sasich felt the need to burden it with an attempt at a story.

1/3Not Recommended


Directed by Eli Sasich; screenplay by Clay Tolbert, based on a story by Sasich and Tolbert; director of photography, Greg Cotten; edited by Zachary Anderson and Sasich; music by Kevin Riepl; production designer, Alec Contestabile; produced by Chris Bryant.

Starring Anthony Bonaventura (OMG Officer Cole Freeman), Jeannie Bolet (Moira Williams), Ben Kliewer (Andrew Jensen), Chris Voss (Jacob Sanders) and David M. Edelstien (Captain Robert McKay).

Record/Play (2012, Jesse Atlas)

Record/Play is an awesome little short. Director Atlas–along with his co-writer, Aaron Wolfe–does something rather amazing. He starts with fetishizing old cassettes. The unnamed protagonist, played by Mustafa Shakir, sits and replays old cassette tapes. They each have labels, they each are from different places (which soon becomes important).

But then his Sony Walkman breaks and he has to change out a diode or something. Atlas goes just far enough into the technical, the circuit board, the process of repairing the device; he never lets it become too much about nostalgia because then, almost out of nowhere, Record/Play becomes something else entirely.

Even as unpredictable as its main plot point plays, the finale is expected. But watching the protagonist try and try again to get it right is where Record/Play really amazes.

Wonderful music from Greg Townley, great photography from Blake McClure.

It’s outstanding.

3/3Highly Recommended


Directed by Jesse Atlas; screenplay by Aaron Wolfe and Atlas, based on a story by Atlas; director of photography, Blake McClure; edited by Wolfe; music by Greg Townley; production designer, Alec Contestabile; produced by Chris Bryant.

Starring Mustafa Shakir (Man) and Deepti Gupta (Woman).

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