No, I don't mean that One-Day Seminar is "cute" or "kind of funny" or "a bit amusing", I mean that One-Day Seminar is hilarious! It's Clever, well thought out and dead-on with its take on ironic-to-the-point-of-achingly-oblivious.
Still, as a short film, it's hard not to think of how much better One-Day Seminar might have been with a little more polish (and budget). In its way, One-Day Seminar feels a bit more like a pilot for a much longer piece than a stand-alone short. And should such a thing happen, I'd be on board for it. Again, while the comparisons to other works are obvious and hard to resist, One-Day Seminar is never derivative.
We're introduced to this film (and its style of comedy) with an excerpt from an advertent advertisement for "The Tryan Learn Institute", a corporation run by the advertisement's speaker Ted Misanthrope (Grover Silcox) that specializes in "Real Seminars for Real People".
We soon meet the focus of our film, Tommy Murray's Benson Mountebank, a clueless seminar speaker who might equate to the "Alan Smithee" of team building, corporate motivational speakers if he was maybe a little bit more effectual.
One of the most fun things about One-Day Seminar is the fact that Mountebank is hardly alone in his surreal craziness. Much like half the people that Inspector Clouseau meets, virtually the entire cast of One-Day Seminar is "off" in some strange way. If anything, Mountebank is "Crazy in a Crazy Land".
From the Hotel Check-in Clerk who seems to have a very casual relationship with reality (Jeannie Stith) to the Hotel Check-out Clerk who begs for a little clarity (Kelly Minner) the entire show is packed with human question marks.
The saddest thing about the actual seminar isn't the fact that the attendees are as "out-there" as the clerks, but that Benson Mountebank STILL manages to make them seem normal by comparison. Mountebank gives an ironically humorous speech, laded with self-promoting monologues and "helpful" lectures that he completely misses the point of. He even gos so far as to mislead, insult and injure his attendees (that include Mitch Warner, John Cronk, Jack Preston and Kim Patterson). Folks, Mountebank is so oblivious that even with his entire class wearing nametags he still gets their names wrong.
What works so well about One-Day Seminar is that Mountebank is incredibly wrong in so very many ways, but is articulate enough to believably pass in the world of the film that is, as I said, just crazy enough to let him succeed. In this way, Binder seems to be satarizing those ineffectual middle-management suck-ups (and seminar runners) who seem to make it based on everything but knowledge or experience.
There are plenty of times during the brief (less than twenty-minute) runtime of One-Day Seminar that the intelligent viewer and listener will either laugh out loud or guffaw nervously up their sleeve (depending on what they see and have seen). There is a sharp attention to detail here, implying that Binder has planned every frame of his short film. Even the names are cleverly planned, from "Misanthrope" to "Mountebank" to "Tryan Learn". Peggy Koleduk even plays a character named "Edna Happenstance".
At the same time, One-Day Seminar has the occasional moment that feels more independent than its wise script calls for. There are a few stiff acting moments and a few slow editing moments. These do stand out more, however, simply because so often Binder as both writer and director handles the timing of his comedic set-ups extremely well. The flaws are more noteworthy once we take into account the high-quality moments.
In short, One-Day Seminar does one of the best things a short film can do... it leaves the audience wanting more. As an Ultra-Indie the film does great work with its limited budget, creating an experience much funnier than most episodes of a half-hour comedy series. There's definitely something here worth a longer focus, be it as a series of shorts, a full-length feature or even something completely different (reference intended). No matter what it is, with the promise Martin Binder and company show here, it should be worth watching.
Three and One Half Stars out of Five for One-Day Seminar, the little Indie with big laughs. In its present form it might not stand up to the better-funded and marketed films of its kind, but the sense of humor, timing and ironic storytelling that Martin Binder is a master of makes this one more than worth watching and laughing with all the way through. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a meeting to attend. From what I understand, the speaker is just brilliant and it may really change my life. I can't wait! Sigh. I hope they let us out early, man!
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Seriously, it was so hot. It was this bottomless chick from the back just bent over so you could see the most beautiful vision you could ever hope to see with beads of water all over this shaven vulva. SO beautiful!
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