Review of “Here Come the Girls 3″

The wonderful thing about a great program of shorts is that, within a couple of hours, you get a whirlwind tour of a whole bunch of characters, settings, stories and worlds – the best of which present moments in time, simple ideas or themes with crystal clarity. Here Come the Girls 3 offers some of the greatest shorts of the last few years – and while a few of them are actually a couple of years old, it’s a fantastic mix. Featuring three tear-jerking dramas and six lighter, funnier offerings, there’s hardly a clunker in the bunch.

The collection begins with Gianna Sobol‘s Public Relations, an adorable, mildly campy romp about two personal assistants to two overbearing, domineering women (who just so happen to be related). Genevieve lives in New York under the thumb of Candice (Wendi McLendon-Covey of Reno 911 fame), and spends many days (and nights) on the phone with her counterpart, Sara, in LA.  Candice decides it’s time to take a trip out west to visit with her sister and our bi-coastal besties get to meet in person for the first time. Of course, our leading ladies hit it off – much to the chagrin of their employers. It’s light, sweet, and very funny, setting the tone (largely) for the rest of the program.

Next up is Trophy, a 2008 short that takes conventional patriarchal wisdom and twists it so hard that it’s impossible not to smirk at the clever ending. Teenaged Hayden goes for a weekend visit to her playboy dad’s house, only to find that daddy has gotten himself affianced to a gorgeous woman only a few years older than her. Rather than pout about it, however, Hayden makes a new “friend.” It’s a sexy and deliciously funny little film, and a wonder that we haven’t heard more from director Karla DiBenedetto recently.

The “tissues and issues” subtitle actually gets relevant for Jenifer Malmqvist‘s Birthday, the first serious drama in the bunch. A Swedish film about a lesbian couple celebrating a birthday and a conception, things turn nasty when Sara finds out just how wife Katerina became pregnant. It’s touching and tough material, with a few light moments provided by the couple’s hilarious daughter, Johanna.

Michelle Pollino‘s Looking For is the campiest of the comedies in the collection, a day-glo take on online dating services and the hideous process of finding the right match. It’s funny with a long stretch of whacked out stereotypes and dating nightmare stories on display, but the ultra-high camp factor means this one drags on a bit too long.

Lucha, from filmmaker Maria Breaux, returns to the serious tone, this time featuring two women hiding out during the 1980s insurgency in El Salvador. They are longtime lovers – one a pacifist, the other a woman itching to fight alongside her brother. It’s powerful, with excellent acting and writing (one memorable line: “God doesn’t carry a gun”), though it pales somewhat in comparison to the next drama, Mosa.

Almost anything would, though: Ana Moreno‘s Mosa offers some of the most intense 15 minutes in short filmmaking. The story of a gorgeous queer South African woman who is the victim of a heinous hate crime ( so-called “corrective rape), she manages to escape thanks to her looks and an interested London fashion photographer, but finds herself in another difficult situation soon enough. It’s edge-of-your seat intense and powerfully performed – the sort of film that sticks with you long after the credits roll.

Tonally opposite, but still powerfully made is Organism, a very funny, surreal and still somehow incredibly honest depiction of high school life from director Nina Reyes Rosenberg. Carman and Jen are teen lovers who have the same taste in porn (naughty nuns, of course), though Carman struggles with her sexuality and the punk-styled Jen is more than OK with being out and proud. It doesn’t shy away from the awkwardness of being young and confused (and entrenched in high school politics), though the overall tone is dreamy and more than a little sweet.

The most hysterically funny of all the films in the collection is the five-minute long Fresh Air Therapy, a German “moment in time” movie about a squabbling couple on a therapist’s couch by director Christoph Scheerman. Their time in the session is punctuated by one absolutely hilarious, unexpected incident, and maturity be damned, this reviewer almost fell off of her seat with laughter.

Finishing out the collection is Lee Sung-eun ‘s I Am Jin Young, a pleasantly funny (and adorable) Korean short about a particularly precocious 10-year-old girl pondering her own sexuality. Jin Young is smarter than all of the kids in her class (she thinks them childish), and looking for something more interesting in her life, when she promptly falls madly in love with her mother’s female “friend “. Little Jin Young narrates the whole story, including hilarious vignette’s comparing women (especially her crush) to men.

Most short collections tend to be a bit hit or miss — that’s the nature of the beast — but minus a few overlong scenes in Looking For, and perhaps a moment or two in Lucha, this is one of the most rock-solid compilations of the form. Perhaps because the shorts on offer span a few years, the folks at Pecadillo Pictures were able to truly pick and choose – and Here Come the Girls 3 is all the better for it.

Watch the trailer for Here Come the Girls 3:

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