When I was a teenager, I wouldn’t pick up a book unless it was part of a series, or over 300 pages. At the speed I read, I felt like I needed a lot of book to justify the time spent reading the book. I think I read every trilogy, five part epic and franchise on the market. It wasn’t till I was in college before I realize how much of what I was reading was filler. I look back on these trilogies and often I can only recall one scene out of an entire series because that one scene was really all the writer had that was worth reading about.
Which brings us to ‘Cashback’. The best thing about this 2006 DVD is that the 102 minute film comes with the 2004, 18 minute short film. It also reinforces my love for the short story which is always worth 15$ to be reminded of.
The premise of both films is simple and brilliant. Ben works a night job and in the alienating despair that comes from working nights while the rest of the world sleeps, Ben devolps the ability to freeze time. Being an artist, this allows him to observe, undress and sketch the women who come to the grocery store he works at.
In the short film, this concept is lean, brilliant, moody and sexy. It sets the tone for late night desperation perfectly as well as capturing the timeless nature of such a job. When he undresses the frozen women, it manages to avoid being creepy. I don’t know how any creative person could not fall in love with the short film.
The long film however bloats out of control. An ex-girlfriend is introduced, as well as several short stories about early childhood sexual discoveries, a wacky best friend, a lucky career break, a wacky kung-fu coworker and I could be wrong, but I think at some point they were trapped in a forest with a bunch of Orcs. Although I enjoyed some of the diversions introduced in the long film, I found myself missing the central theme of beauty and loneliness. It is replaced with a diluted splatter of sex, slapstick comedy and tits. It was often amusing, but always meaningless.
I highly recommend this DVD because the short film is sexy and brilliant, while the long film is an education to any short story writer.