Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tribeca ’12: Pitch Black Heist (short)

Michael Fassbender is fully clothed, while Liam Cunningham is really drunk.  Together, they are a mismatched pair of crooks hired to pull off a very dark caper in John Maclean’s Pitch Black Heist (trailer here), the winner of the 2012 BAFTA Award for best short film, which screens today as part of the Status Update programming block at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival.

Known simply as Michael and Liam, two safecrackers are meeting each other for the first time on a very unusual job.  They are two retrieve some item (it hardly matters what) from a safe with a light-sensitive alarm.  To prepare, they practice navigating a dummied-up room in complete darkness.  On the day in question, they meet in a quiet pub and wait for their employer to send them the all-clear.  However, they find themselves cooling their heels far longer than they expected, so they start doing what you’re supposed to do in a pub, lest they attract attention.

Pitch has a nice little twist at the end that Maclean adroitly lays the ground work for, without glaringly telegraphing it.  Frankly, this concept could be relatively easily expanded into a feature, which makes the economy of Maclean’s thirteen minute storytelling all the more noteworthy.  Still, the real entertainment is watching the boozy interaction between co-executive producers Fassbender and Cunningham.  Both actors have genuinely intense screen presences, perfectly suited to their roles in Pitch.

It all looks quite stylish as well, thanks to Robbie Ryan’s appropriately noir black-and-white cinematography.  A neat little ironic crime drama, Pitch Black Heist is one of the overlooked treats of the Tribeca line-up.  As per tradition, all short film blocks screen today (4/29), the concluding day of this year’s festival.