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By Melanie Haupt, March 14, 2008, Screens

Reel Shorts 2

D: Various

Never underestimate the power of a poly-blend sweater and a sharp-edged necktie. The highlight of the second of the three Reel Shorts programs is, hands-down, "The European Kid" (D: Ian Martin), never smug in its celebration of mid-century modern home colors and an unlikely sex god. Indeed, it makes dysfunction seem, well, fun. "Beijing Haze" (D: J.P. Chan) is a poignant first-person narration of a young woman who reflects on her emigration from China, while she smokes her last cigarette from her homeland, and, perhaps, nurtures a new dream of going home. "Bachianas No. 5" (D: Curtis Taylor) turns a cruddy peepshow into an operatic stage and wins the most points for originality. The oddest offering, perhaps, is "The Problem With Machines That Communicate" (D: Matt McCormick), featuring the Shins' Marty Crandall, his ex-girlfriend Elyse Sewell, and outsider artist George Andrus, all isolated and coping with it in their own unique ways. Reel Shorts 2, ultimately, is concerned with the plight of being human, which isn't always pretty but consistently fascinating and sometimes even hilarious.

Friday, March 14, noon, Alamo Lamar

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