Now Go See a Movie: "Harry Grown Up"

Posted by Ryan Michael Decker on Saturday, April 6, 2013
Day two of the second annual Julien Dubuque International Film Festival and the first day of this year's film screenings has come to a close.  I'm a newbie to blogging, but you can't beat the publishing speed (please forgive my spelling and grammatical mistakes).  I'm venturing into this medium because, dear reader, I must urgently implore you attend the Festival if you have not or are not already.

Leading up to the festival and in the past two days, I have seen a number of films (features and shorts) that have been selected for a simple reason: they are damn good.

So Right, So Smart, a feature documentary featuring some of the world's most reputable environmental experts and the country's brightest minds in business, got me thinking about significant and profitable sustainability in a more proactive and empowered way. My brain is still buzzing.  Corpus Christie: Playing with Redemption is a beautiful, sad/scary at times, documentary and story of the triumph of human perseverance, conscience their relationship to art (it doesn't hurt that I'm a theatre guy at heart).  Daylight Fades is an exceptional example visual and auditory craftsmanship.  The genuine, to-the-point writing and acting in this vampire romance had me actually enjoying a vampire romance (Yes I just went there. Take that Twilight!).  Moreover, these independent films are engaging to watch.

I want to give a little more room in this post to a short I saw early today that I have not been able to shake off: "Harry Grown Up."  New York is a tough place to find love. Especially for an 18-month-old living on his own.  This 17-minute film by Mark Nickelsburg is as delightful as is it impactful.

The black-and-white short manages to resonate in the viewer's schema with almost archetypal writing and imagery (at one time substituting empty milk bottles for empty beer bottles) while creating a narrative that is not as predictable as it's familiar qualities would lead us to believe.  The hopeless protagonist, Harry, is portrayed physically by a 18-month-old child with the inner-dialogue of a mature voice actor.  With the exception of a brief scene with Harry's babysitter in the opening, this voice drives the entirety of the piece.  The voice actor's sincerity rivals that of the unabashed baby actor's natural expression, creating a singular protagonist and point-of-view.  Their authenticity (as well as the entire cast's) serves the script's base writing, resulting in a visceral film experience that is relatable, humorous, and charming.  Of course, I cannot ignore the exceptional production quality of audio, a perfectly-suited underscore, and clever cinematography -- the foundation film medium is built on.  It's easy to believe that this short is the winner of five previous film festivals, including New York ShortsFest Best of New York and Atlanta Shorts Fest Best Comedy.  At our very own Julien Film Fest, the piece was one of three nominees for Best Short.  "Harry Grown Up": 5/5 Stars.

You have two more days and and six more screen times as of this post to catch as much as you can of this year's Julien Dubuque International Film Festival.  Venues span south Main, indicated by red festival flags at their doors.  Tickets are available online and at the Hotel Julien on Main St.  What are you waiting for?  Don't want to miss this wonderful opportunity right under your nose. Now go see a movie!


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