Short Stay Screen 85 of 15 reviews

Short Stay

2016

Short Stay Poster
  • Touching and funny in a cringe-worthy way, Short Stay is one of the most original debuts of the year, and looks more deeply and darkly at a common type of middle-class American existence that most indies shy away from in favour of something more chic and gratifying.

  • Short Stay manages to contain multitudes despite initially seeming unassuming and sparse, unexpectedly locating a wholly new and refreshingly unsentimental brand of humanism within the mundane fabric of the kinds of lives that cinema hasn’t hitherto deigned to depict. Fendt carefully bypasses any immediate resemblances to mumblecore, instead drawing from his own unique host of influences to arrive at a way of working and a constellation of themes and tones that has become his and his alone.

  • The grain of the film, and Fendt’s neutrally illustrative filming style (point the camera at the person or thing and keep that camera or thing in the center of an uncluttered frame) give Short Stay a curiously retro style reminiscent of the talkier side of the French New Wave, an avowed influence... Short Stay is pushed further to abstraction by the deliberately flat performances, even as the dialogue flirts with absurdism.

  • This is slacker cinema for people who can't even be bothered to light a joint — in its own strange way a marvelous thing.

  • Brevity is by no means the only virtue of the 60-minute gem Short Stay, a rich, deceptively modest dissection of the perils of inertia—for as its ungainly protagonist discovers, anything that falls into your lap can just as easily fall out of it. This stripped-down story of a less-than-dynamic man lets its gentle humor tip over into the excruciating again and again, functioning like a finely tuned moral tale whose tenderness for its characters doesn't mean it won't expose their shortcomings.

  • Mike Maccherone as Mike, the aimless guy we follow from New Jersey to Philadelphia and back, is a remarkably unremarkable presence on screen, and I mean that in the best way. The way this character clings to a bottom-rung job or opts to sleep on the floor of a sublet when the real tenants so clearly want him out of there is fascinating in that it ought to be off-putting at least, if not downright disturbing—but somehow isn’t.

  • Short Stay does not feel like a bigger film than director Ted Fendt's charmingly ill-fitting shorts, but rather is a more robust, fuller in passing detail and commonplace incident. In other words: unassuming, but charged.

  • These aren’t locales that have extensive representation in the majority of American cinema, so it’s refreshing simply on that level to see them so thoroughly lived-in here, but even more so, one should note the indifference with which this is approached: this is where these people live, and that is all. These brief sightings into the Fendt cinematic universe are a welcome respite from the self-important attention-seekers of current American Independent Cinema to my mind.

  • What is Mike, deep down, getting out of such an uncomfortable situation? The tension manifests through Fendt and DP Sage Einarsen's unobtrusive but perceptive camera, which bounces gently among multiple focal points (the glasses bobbing on Mike's chest, Mark's frustrated expressions as he ties his shoes), collecting items of behavioral interest.

  • With characteristic rigor, Fendt has said that he tries “to keep [his] feelings out of the films,” but surely his devotion to this landscape has to do with the humid summer lushness of the city, and the wet wintertime desolation of its suburbs. There is a pleasure in the glimpses of this world, seen as Mike runs or walks or loiters in it, and it is a pleasure that’s uniquely possible on film. Why else would anyone feel such fealty to it?

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    Sight & Sound: Giovanni Marchini Camia
    December 02, 2016 | Viennale | Sight & Sound January 2017 Issue (p. 60)

    With its milieu of directionless twenty-somethings (played by the director's friends), its awkwardly deadpan humour and unassuming aesthetic, Short Stay has a superficial resemblance to early mumblecore – see, for example, Andrew Bujalski's Funny Ha ha (2002) – but is elevated by Fendt's subtle, sophisticated script and affectionate, winsome depiction of the rhythms and textures of suburban Philadelphia.

  • To his credit, Fendt simply winds up the apparatus and lets it go. There is very little directional drive or narrative contrivance in Short Stay, and this, I suppose, could be one way of reading the Straub / Huillet influence. The conflict is small, human, and yet unresolvable. We are watching people trapped by their animal natures, doing the only things they could possibly do.

  • [Fendt's] compact feature Short Stay, which was preceded by a string of comic shorts, is unsurprisingly a work of not-insignificant control, doing precisely what it sets out to do... A wallflower movie if ever there was one, Short Stay isn’t the sort of thing to set the world on fire—which of course such a wet blanket of a movie isn’t intended to do.

  • Simple yet effective in its naturalistic portrait of a man who can’t really fit in anywhere (nor does he seem to want to), this understated slice of East Coast life will mostly please fans of Andrew Bujalski, Joe Swanberg and other low-fi DIY directors when they first started out.

  • Certainly has the courage of its convictions—the protagonist starts out uninteresting apart from being mildly pathetic, and by god he stays that way right to the bitter end. Mostly found this recalcitrance admirable rather than amusing or enlightening, though, and the film feels unduly long despite barely running an hour.

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