Director; Andy Kastelic. Starring; Jack Forcinito, Calvin Olson, Shayleen Mitchell. Not Rated. Color. 16 Minutes.
Throughout my years of high school, film school, and working in the film circuit for over a decade I have seen hundreds of short indie films in my day. You’ve got the ones that had huge production issues to those with problematic locations or actors. You also have the ones that just plain SUCK and are made by idiots. But rarely, as in I could count on two hands how rare, you get an indie short that is top to bottom an absolute triumph. That is the best way to describe “Typhoon”.
Our opening frame is of a green algae filled river. Suddenly a man emerges gasping for air. That man is Magpie (Jack Forcinito), an escaped convict using the less populated areas of the countryside while looking to free himself from his prison shackles. Struggling to move effectively while going through various tunnels and fields, the man finds a barely standing abandoned home with a couch he can sleep behind in hopes of not being discovered by authorities.
Morning arrives and Magpie is woken by an unexpected visitor. A young boy named Pete (Calvin Olson) is eating himself a peanut butter sandwich and appears to be on his way to school. Things turn dark real quick as Pete has a noose with the intention of killing himself. Instead of trying to stop the youngster Magpie sees an opportunity. The rope is tied all wrong if the kid wants to die instantly. The two strike up a deal, Pete gets the prisoner the means to get out of his cuffs and in exchange he’ll show the boy how to properly kill himself in return. Not exactly your typical mentor student relationship, but somehow writer/director Andy Kastelic accomplishes that bond in a very touching way without forcing it.
Once he’s all cleaned up Magpie is ready to head toward Texas and Pete is ready for the rope. With very little time together something about their unexpected crossing of paths changes both the man and the child emotionally and psychologically. We even find out what Magpie did, but I will allow you to discover that.
Having watched it twice back to back immediately “Typhoon” becomes even more powerful as you delve into it. Jack Forcinito is an absolute powerhouse with his portrayal of a broken man that will always be haunted with what he did, mainly because it was so heinous even though he did not do it intentionally. The silent child played by Calvin Olson portrays so much by doing so little that we sympathize for him instantly. Cinematographer Jannis Schelenz is at the top of his game here. Frames have clearly been meticulously planned out and are beautiful, but he never falls into the indie movie trap of making you feel like he is showing off. The visuals show the story as much as the script.
“Typhoon” is a fascinating title for this piece. I’m sure the filmmakers have their own reasons, but I always try to interpret it for myself as a viewer. For me it refers to what a typhoon is, a destructive force on the surface with a beautiful calm at the center. Obviously the journey beyond what we see between these two characters in this short window of calm is going to be, let us just say complicated. But for that blip in life, understanding is achieved.
This happens for me a few times every year when watching cinema. There are some movies that are such a pile of dog crap that criticizing them is done with my eyes closed. Then there are those where I literally have no criticism of any kind. No exaggeration, “Typhoon” is one of the best indie shorts I have ever seen. Genre, country of origin, or budget does not matter. I call every film like I see ’em. I call “Typhoon” a masterpiece.