4 Stars
Year Released: 2008
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 15 minutes
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Sittin’ in a tree house shooting off bottle rockets. Drunken tire swinging. Sounds like an average high school weekend with your friends, right? Well, now imagine that there are no friends. And there’s no bored teenager waiting for the next episode of “Randy Jackson’s America’s Best Dance Crew” to come on. It’s a creepy balding guy suffering from alcoholism and a bad case of IWANNAKILLSOMEBODY. Yalmer (Rusty Menkes), “Copper on the Chopping Block’s” socially detached lead, drinks, swings, and saunas alone. That is, unless the only family he’s got, his tattoo-covered sister (Carrice Chardin) and her tough mother (Marti Starsnick) come over to visit. As it turns out, Yalmer’s got something special planned for their next visit.

Kai Orion’s enthralling short takes a little while to get going. But when it does… Shot in Michigan’s beautiful snow-covered woodlands, “Chopping Bloc”k combines peaceful cinematography with a violent narrative which gives Fargo a run for its money. The three performances are equally impressive. Menkes keeps his character believable, never crossing over into the dreaded Far-Fetched Villain territory. Even the film’s fourth on-screen participant, a large black bear, holds his own in front of the camera.

“Chopping Block’s” slow and steady build-up ultimately pays off when the narrative reaches its climax. A series of expertly crafted shots piece together to create an ending that’ll leave jaws dropping and heads shaking in humorous disbelief. Overall, Orion’s film is an impressive feat which combines noteworthy technical abilities with strong storytelling, a combination any filmmaker would hope to achieve.

Posted on January 22, 2009 in Reviews by

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