“Who Is Elmore Dean?”
Capturing a Moment in Six
Most of you know that I love the movies and I am a sucker for epic historical film. A screen actress such as Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra and/or Katherine Hepburn as Eleanor of Aquitaine give(s) brilliant performances. Yet I am constantly amazed at short films these days and how someone can say all that he has to say in just six minutes and this is certainly in opposition to my taste for long historical drama. There is a new film by Max Rothberg that really knocked me out. “Who is Elmore Dean?” is the story of the title character who awakes on the morning of one of the most important days of his life. He is filled has taken on a mind of its own. As Dean attempts to go through his daily routine, his stress becomes more uncontrollable and appears to him to be seems manifesting itself in the inanimate interior of his apartment. (It actually took me longer to write those sentences than it did to watch the film).
Short films come in all lengths. They are, in most cases, considered short if they run about an hour or less but each must have the basic three elements of a beginning, middle and an end. (I bet you knew that). Each short has its goal of presenting a complete a story.
Rothman’s film is very short, very quick and very clever. There is no dialogue and the camera has the job of relaying Elmore’s stress and anxiety. Timothy J. Cox plays Elmore with a silent schizophrenic intensity and he totally looks as if he has become the stressed out character— he looks sad and lost and seems to be internalizing his feelings and this is reflected by the sadness we see in the way he moves. His blank stare is a reflection of his helplessness. As surreal as the idea for the movie may seem at first, we realize that it is all too real
The set looks naturally authentic even as the surreal events happen. About a minute into the film we learn that Elmore Dean is a songwriter and before we actually see him, we see how he lives. We do not see technology but we do see books, a typewriter and vinyl records. Various musical instruments are on display. Elmore’s state of mind is reflected by his messy wastepaper basket and an M.C. Escher print. When we do actually meet Elmore, it is when he wakes and begins his morning routine and we watch his demeanor go from exhausted to frantic. What we really see is man’s constant struggle against the unseen.
Dean is a somewhat reclusive songwriter who has made it big and is about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Even though this one of the most important days of his life, Elmore doesn’t let it change his usual routine much until he realizes that underneath the ordinary, there’s a sense of something wrong which he sees when various small, strange events happen with increasing speed. I do not see what is happening as evil or eerie but rather as mischievous. Elmore seems almost used to these bizarre happenings (or at least a not shocked by them), but he’s certainly aware that something is amiss. Who needs any extra distractions on one of the biggest and busiest days anyone could ever have?
This is a fun short film with a nice twist at the end. We’ve all had days where everything manages to be out of control despite our best efforts so we can sympathize with Elmore.