‘Wolf’s Calling’ Review: The past is a weapon in Toshiaki Toyoda’s new short film

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By Michael B. Murphy

Featuring an impressive lineup of actors, traditional Japanese musical instruments, and elements of chanbara cinema, Wolf’s Calling is a captivating short film/music video hybrid about a gun, a girl and the radical act of remembering. 

In April of last year, director Toshiaki Toyoda (whose previous films include Blue Spring and 9 Souls) was arrested at his home on suspicion of possessing a firearm. Fortunately, the 51-year-old filmmaker was cleared of any wrongdoing and released from jail days later when investigators discovered his gun was actually a World War II-era family heirloom that no longer worked.

Promoted as Toyoda’s response to his arrest, the 17-minute short Wolf’s Calling is a contemplative and political tale about a girl reconnecting to her nation’s past after discovering a long-forgotten gun. It’s also a badass music video scored by the Japanese anti-modernist punk band Seppuku Pistols.

Warning: Spoilers Below

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BUFF15 Coverage: ‘Are We Not Cats’ Review

Photo Courtesy of www.xanderrobin.com

Photo Courtesy of http://www.xanderrobin.com

One of the highlights of the 15th annual Boston Underground Film Festival (BUFF15) this year was the short film Are We Not Cats.

Written, produced, directed and edited by Xander Robin, an up-and-comer from Brooklyn, New York, who graduated from Florida State University with a BFA in Motion Picture Arts, Are We Not Cats delighted the Brattle Theater audience it was screened before.

Xander makes great use of his 12 minute runtime and quickly sets up the films simple premise – a young couple are on a road trip when the young man (played by Michael Patrick) discovers his girlfriend (the beautiful Kelsea Dakota) has been compulsively eating his hair while he sleeps.

Patrick and Dakota work well together and the latter gives a daring performance that should be commended.

With such a short runtime, it’d be impossible to discuss what occurs within the film without spoiling the ending (and boy what an ending it is).

The final eight seconds of the film make the movie, a fact which Xander admits to in his interview with me (to be posted later). To give away this brilliantly quirky film’s ending would be a disservice to Xander and those who have yet to see it.

I wasn’t the only one who really dug this movie as it won “Director’s Choice Award for Short Film.”

This is a little movie with a big heart and it definitely stood out at this year’s festival.