By midlandsmovies, Jan 22 2020 09:10PM
Midlands Review - Smoking Kills
Directed by Jacob Gates Orgill
Shot in artistic monochrome, Smoking Kills is a new 5-minute short from Derby-based director Jacob Gates Orgill.
With coffee brewing and the hub-bub of customers, we start the short in a small café as a man frets over an unfinished newspaper crossword.
As another drink is passed to him by a waitress, he continues with his word puzzle but pauses to change a nicotine patch under the sleeve of his shirt.
The stark black and white visuals are a nice touch in Smoking Kills. When money is limited and colour grading a luxury on some local films, a bit of creative thinking can help turn lower budget affairs into a classier production. And this works well here.
The story continues as the man later breaks open some nicotine gum as we see his stress levels go upwards. Is it his cravings? Or the frustration of a particular difficult clue in the newspaper?
Nearby, a group of men chat nonchalantly but one well-coiffed gent with a cigarette tucked behind his ear attracts our protagonist’s eyes. The director here slows down the visuals when the gent heads outside to smoke and the absence of sound focuses the lead’s attention (and our own) on this obsessive act.
And as his friends join him outside for a “toke”, the man back inside at his table begins to sweat and the music swells to heighten the tension as we become fixated on the tiny details of the café: A slowly dripping tap. A bead of sweat. The fun and laughter of the men enjoying their snouts.
One thing to note at this point is that the shots in Smoking Kills are well composed and the filmmaker uses a lot of varied camera angles to keep the small location interesting. Without colour, the excellent use of shot depth definitely helps keep the short visually arresting.
But as the man becomes fixated on these small things, we begin to ask ourselves "will he finally snap"?
Well, you’ll have to watch to find out but Smoking Kills is a terrific film about infatuation and addiction with an added dash of dark humour. Although the subject matter isn’t wholly unique, the excellent use of colour (or lack of), clever film editing and some effective cinematic flourishes all help light up the screen in this very satisfying short.