What could you possibly say in a film that is only four minutes long? Well, if it’s a film by Jesse Burks, the sky is the limit! In his newest short film, he continues to astound viewers with his unusual story-telling techniques and his ability to surprise you. Two of his previous films, “One Please” and “Cured,” were gruesomely shocking and funny. But “That Unusual Brick” shows us that Burks has many more ideas and tricks up his creative sleeve.
We find our main character (Harley Burks) in an upscale sushi cafe, beautifully appointed with warm brick and wood decor. It’s obvious that this man is extremely neurotic when it comes to order as he rearranges, ever so slightly, the angle of his chopsticks and the symmetry and balance of the cups on the table. When his food is presented, a little askew of course, he once again makes sure to put things in order, but before he can take his first bite, order is completely thrown off with a tap, tap, tap behind the brick wall. What he discovers is bizarrely unexpected and mind-boggling with a reaction that is equally odd.
Burks’ has such a keen eye for taking an ordinary situation and making it different, sometimes visually jarring and in this case, conceptually conflicting. His perspective, particularly in “The Unusual Brick” is as much of the story as the main character, giving a certain depth to the story that is wonderfully rich. The cinematography utilizes a camera angle that seats us at the table across from this young man, allowing us to not only observe his strange obsession with precision, but to experience it.
This is a dialogue-free film, but it is far from silent. The music is also a character, giving us the right emotion to feel at each turning point in the film. The whimsical nature soon turns to unease, as the music stops and we hear only the din of the diners and the tapping behind the wall. Burks’ astute awareness of the emotional power of music and his attention to detail in sound effects creates the precision of a seasoned filmmaker.
Harley Burks fine tunes his perfectionistic character, paying close attention to subtle expressions and body language. While he utters not a word, he is very bold in what he communicates.
Color also communicates so much in this film. It’s bright, clear and crisp with bold colors sharply on display in both the foreground and background…until we see what’s behind the wall. The colors change perfectly capturing the feeling of the scene.
Burks finds another winner with “That Unusual Brick.” It’s gorgeously shot, expertly acted, creatively written and executed, and all with such attention to detail, allowing an unexpected story to unfold in just four short minutes. This striking and captivating style of filmmaking is a hallmark of Burks’ work.