Daily Short: Martin McDonagh’s Six Shooter

6 Oct

Well, it’s about time that ShortStack become something like a real blog. That VMAs project, while briefly fun, didn’t exactly pan out (though I’m so bitter about Katy Perry beating Adele to the top that I feel we should forget the whole thing altogether). In its place, this space will be devoted to everything short film.

I’ll cover shorts news and film festivals large and small, with a special focus on getting video up for you to watch at home. I’ll do some digging for great shorts on the web waiting to be discovered, and keep things in perspective with some looking back at great little films from years past. There’ll probably be some good-natured pontificating about the internet and the future of the form, too. To kick things off, here’s a first regular feature for the blog: a daily online short to give you a small cinematic break from the humdrum.

Opening with this particular short is, in a way, like my own humble version of TCM’s inaugural broadcast of Gone with the Wind. Just as that epic inspires so many to become enamored of Old Hollywood, Martin McDonagh’s Six Shooter is a big part of how I first fell in love with shorts. Perfectly self-contained and masterfully paced, this darkly comic exploration of grief almost defies characterization. Subverting the tired praise of “I laughed, I cried,” Six Shooter often brings you to riotous giggles and a profound sense of pathos in precisely the same moment. McDonagh rocks from quiet, mournful scenes to wildly punchy conversation, complemented by the central train hurtling through the pastoral Irish countryside.

Brendan Gleeson and Rúaidhrí Conroy are excellent, in many ways the ideal actors for the script’s inspired collision of stoic anguish and hilariously confrontational dialogue. Not a single second of the film’s twenty-seven minutes is wasted, nor is there demand for a single instant more. A good short film can inspire you to want a feature adaptation; a great short film makes the very idea seem ridiculous. Six Shooter is one of the latter, a meticulously timed ride that hurtles along for half an hour before shrewdly dropping you off somewhere between stops. Watch it here:

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