Thursday, May 5, 2011

Braid (2011)

Before I get to the review I want to tell you a story, and its a good one with a great pay off, so bare with this long winded opening.

Back on April 27th I posted my daily report on the films from Tribeca and it included by review of several of the films that appeared in the collection Take as Directed.I had walked out of the collection before the end because there was only one film I had actually liked and I wanted to cut my losses.

Not long after the post went up I got an email from Chun-Yi Hsieh who directed one of the films I missed asking me to please try and see his short film Braid. He said that he wanted to hear what I had to say about it. I said I would if we could come up with a way to see it without having to go through the shorts that preceded. He then let me know that the film was in the press library and that I could see it there. Since I had the on-line access I checked to see if it was there as well and found it was, except that it was one of two shorts I tried that didn't work.

After a couple of days where the film wasn't working, I emailed Mr Hsieh to say I still wasn't able to see the film and I asked was there any other way I could see the film? He was kind enough to get me access to the film via other means.

Let me begin by saying that I think Chun-Yi Hsieh will like what I have to say, since his insistance I see Braid has led me to a wonderful little film and hopefully allowed me to get in on the ground floor on the career of a very talented filmmaker.

This film is a small little gem of cinema that, hopefully, heralds the entry of a masterful new filmmaker into the world filmmaking community. Braid knocked my socks off and was one of the finds of the Tribeca Film Festival.Its a film to make you WOW.

I don't say this lightly, or because the director contacted me, since if you've been reading all of my Tribeca coverage, you know that after 54 features and 23 other shorts I saw a great many things I didn't like andsaid so. If I didn't truly like it I wouldn't have given it it's own review, I would have lumped it in Sunday's long piece on shorts.

The plot is simple: An unemployed father is grieving the death of his wife. Unsure of what to do he comes up with a plan that will affect his life and that of his daughter. Unfortunately, or fortunately, dad doesn't figure the cutest kitten you'll ever want to see, into his plan. How it plays out is the film.

This is a great looking and fantastically acted film that reminds me of some of the best recent dramas coming out of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Actually that's selling the film short since the film simply looks like some of the best films coming out anywhere at any length.

The joy of the film is that even though the film is only 15 minutes long it never feels rushed. The film unfolds at it's own pace. This is important since there were several films I saw at Tribeca that looked good or had a good story, but had no sense of pacing. The film Bunny for example, was a great looking little film with a good story but moved along at such a clip that the film felt like it was on speed. With Braid the story plays out in perfect order. If you want more proof consider I would have sat and watched this film for as long as it took with out moving, where as several of the other shorts, many shorter than this had me getting up in the middle to get a drink or jumping to the end.

I love how Hsieh chooses how to tell his story. There are all these little details that say volumes about what is going on (watch how we get filled in on the relationship between the father and deceased mother in a few carefully chosen photos). What you think is a random shot or action actually has meaning later on. I love to watch a director at work who trusts his audience enough not to explain everything and to let us do some work and piece things togeher.

I'm not going to really say much more. You have to understand that the pain of writing about is short films is that they are hard to do so with out taking away all of the suspense. While they can have a great complexity, revealing too many details can spoil them. I'd like to explain a few more things that happen in Braid in detail but the film is too short, I don't want to take away all of the surprises and "Ah Ha!" moments.

It's a beautifully constructed film that really rocks.

I want to state again that I believe that Braid, assuming my instincts are correct, is going to be the early work of a director who is going to be dazzling us for years to come. I know it's hard to tell from one short film but Chun-Yi Hsieh seems to be the real deal. I wasn't certain until I took a look at another short film that he did called Toy Man . It's a four minute black and white film that kicks you in the gut and shows that he is a man who is only improving.

If you can keep an eye out for Braid, it's a really good film that promises us great things in the future...and entertains and moves us in the present.


  1. I would check Chun-Yi Hsieh since he will have the best idea of where the film will be.