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Short Starts: “The Lincoln Lawyer” director Brad Furman’s “Fast Forward”

Short Starts: "The Lincoln Lawyer" director Brad Furman's "Fast Forward"

What would you do if you were given a shot at changing history? If somehow you were given a little glimpse into the future, enough to anticipate an intensely dramatic moment? A tragedy that you’d be able to prevent, if you acted quickly.

This, of course, is an idea that has been tried quite a few times in cinema, to mixed success. One of those successes is a short directed by Brad Furman (whose “The Lincoln Lawyer” opens this weekend), 2002’s “Fast Forward.” A reporter in the news truck outside the Washington Hilton in March of 1981 gets a vision through the TV monitors that five minutes later, someone will attempt to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. From there the short takes off running, and it’s an exciting (if confusing) experience, embedded below.

“Fast Forward” is a fantastic example of an idea that works wonderfully in the short format, and would probably be a disaster as a full-length feature. One thinks of the critically panned and unnecessarily complex “Vantage Point.” This short, however, maintains a simple scenario and its nine minutes allow Furman to create a great deal of intensity without having to stretch out any unnecessary narrative development. The virtue of “Fast Forward,” and the form in general, is its ability to ask pointed questions without the necessity of fully developing and answering them. Here, we are asked to think about time and human ability; whether or not an individual can prevent a tragedy even if he or she sees it coming.

Moreover, Furman does a great job at using confusion to enhance the experience. The footage of the assassination attempt is panicked and jumbled, and so Randall’s vision of the future videotape is far from the crisp informative portrayal he would need to effectively stop the shooter. This muddle just gets more pronounced as he runs out to interrupt the course of history, and by the end of the film you are left entirely unsure as to what just took place before your eyes. Did he stop the shooting? Was he able to have any impact at all? Was the whole thing a fake to begin with? Can you believe anything you see on TV?

In a short film, confusion is a virtue. Asking grand questions without fully answering them is par for the course. Furman does a particularly inspired job here, with “Fast Forward,” which is embedded below. Take a few minutes, give it a look, and embrace the uncertainty.

Fast Forward
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