Kaylinn (Georgia Mischak) is basic. She’s pretentious as fuck, has no friends and documents her sad life with endless selfies. Gross. At least that’s what Gloria (Chelsea Devantez) wants to believe as she scrolls through Kaylinn’s Instagram. Gloria is dating Nick (Nelson Franklin) and is participating in the time-honored tradition of projecting one’s insecurities by cyber stalking her boyfriend’s ex. Maybe it’s time for Gloria to get over it? Or maybe she needs to scroll through a few more pictures first?
Basic packs a punch in a mere 3 minutes and 3 seconds. This short is written, produced and directed by Chelsea Devantez who also stars in the film. Basic is relatable in so many ways. For many women dating in the age of social media, there’s so much at stake with our already fragile egos and the pressure to present ourselves in the best possible light. And in the early days of a relationship, building confidence is difficult and takes time. It’s easy to slip and become infatuated with a perceived threat that doesn’t really exist. I’ve been in Gloria’s situation before. I have cyber-stalked a boyfriend’s ex. I have said some things that reveal some deep-seated insecurities and pettiness.
Basic is funny, engaging and endlessly watchable. It was shot over 2 days in LA with a small crew and tiny budget. The production quality is fantastic and I really loved the aesthetics and the film’s soundtrack. All three actors were great but I was especially entranced by Mischak and Devantez’ performances. If you’re on the lookout for a relatable comedy, look no further than Basic.
“I was hoping to be married by my next colonoscopy.”
Steve Markle wants to get married. After his disastrous Christmas day proposal to his longtime girlfriend ends in heartbreak, the 42 year old filmmaker goes on a journey to learn more about women, relationships and himself. Over the course of a year he interviews a variety of interesting women, either to date them or to be educated by them. These women include his elementary school crush, a lumberjack, a pilot, a heart transplant recipient, a professional cuddler, a hat designer, a sensual massage coach, a dominatrix, a tattoo artist, another filmmaker, a sex club owner, etc. Steve is willing to try new things and put himself outside of his comfort zone. In traveling to meet with these women, he finds disappointment and enlightenment along the way. Of all the women he meets it’s Erin, the serial date who blogs about only dating for the free meals, whom Steve finds a meaningful connection with. Ultimately, Steve has to learn that his desperation for marriage won’t get the final result he desires. Instead he has to be content with the present if there ever is going to be a future.
Shoot to Marry is a heartfelt documentary that is equal parts introspective, quirky, funny, sad and joyful.
Usually in a review like this I would refer to the filmmaker by his or her last name. But this is such an intimate documentary that in a weird way I felt like I really go to know Steve and through his film I made a new friend. I found myself rooting for him from the very beginning and even felt second hand embarrassment at his failures and sheer joy at his accomplishments. Steve is genuine and funny. I found myself heartily laughing at his one liners. Going for a routine colonoscopy he jokes “it’s probably just cancer.” While filming a tattoo artist named Danielle tattooing another Danielle he observes that what he’s doing is “fucked up” and quips, “I should be making a real documentary about climate change or spelling bees.”
Steve wrote, produced, starred, directed and edited Shoot to Marry. The film chronicles his year long pursuit, which is fascinating on its own, but it’s the coda that comes 5 years later that really makes the documentary something special. And I’ll admit it, I had a good cry by the end. Bring some tissues for this one.
Shoot to Marry premieres at the 2020 Slamdance Film Festival. You can find out more information about this documentary at the official website.
“A movie about love for those who think they’ve found the one… but quickly regret swiping right.”
Directed by Aaron Fradkin and written by Fradkin and Victoria Fratz, Electric Love follows a group of 20-somethings as they navigate the dating landscape of modern day L.A. These interconnected stories feature young single people in various states of courtship whether it’s a blind-date, hook-up or a long-term relationship. The film explores straight, bisexual and gay relationships as well as polyamory and monogamy. In an increasingly technological world, our smartphones have become an integral part of not only how we approach dating but how we connect with others.
Searching for normalcy in the complicated world of dating can be trying at best. That’s what photographer Emma (Mia Serafino) and filmmaker Adam (Zachary Mooren) discover as they search for potential mates on dating apps like Bumble, JDate, Tinder, Grindr and OkCupid. Their friends are not having much luck either. Adam’s gay BFF Greg (Matt Bush) is struggling to move from clandestine hook-ups to a solid relationship. Emma’s roommate Charlotte (Misha Reeves), a sex and relationships podcaster and outspoken advocate for polyamory, is dealing with an equally outspoken adversary, internet troll Abe Rosen (Ben Faigus). Other characters in this L.A. bubble include relationship vlogger The Love Zoltar (Fahim Anwar) who offers the protagonists much needed advice in their dating journey, William (Kyle Howard) a clueless single guy who has an eye out for Emma, and a long-distance couple who’ve decided to take a giant leap forward and move in together. When Emma and Adam start dating, will they be able to set aside their dating hang-ups to experience a meaningful connection?
Electric Love is an enjoyable little indie about modern day dating. It’s refreshing to have two approachable and accessible protagonists (played by Serafino and Mooren). It felt like I was watching two real people date each other rather than two movie stars pretending to do so. I didn’t quite get an L.A. vibe from this film that I was expecting. It did however capture the awkwardness of being single, the miscommunication, the mixed messages and the disappointments. The thing that stays true is that regardless of the generation, dating is and always will be difficult. The film ends of a positive and hopeful note. It’s not a groundbreaking story but a reassuring one.