I’ve noticed that describing the film as a “golf documentary” isn’t the most exciting way to put it. But after watching the kids in the film one really does want to take up the game.
The mantra of multiple sports documentaries featured during the South by Southwest Film Festival that all follow a form of American mythologist Joseph Campbell’s so-called “hero’s journey”: They are called to adventure; cross the threshold into a new world; face tests, allies, and enemies; and return home changed.
That’s a keen observation that sort of goes along with the idea that there are only seven basic plots in all of literature and storytelling. (I have the Joseph Campbell book by the way, it’s a scholarly and challenging read.)
Finally, Twitch Film:
Packed with some of the most charming seven and eight year-olds ever captured, Greenbaum takes us into their lives and dares us not to fall in love. Of course it isn’t enough to just setup a camera and hit record and both Greenbaum and editor Billy McMillin do a remarkable job of crafting a concise narrative, no easy feat with eight different kids to follow.
Documentaries can be just as entertaining as any narrative film if you have the right subjects. I haven’t seen any of them, but I suspect that is the secret to recent films like Searching for Sugar Man, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, and The Queen of Versailles.
UPDATE 3/15 – Austin Chronicle:
The film is full of kids who still play like kids off the course and demonstrate a calm beyond their years when the round begins. While a cast of characters this large could easily hinder a doc’s focus, it works perfectly in The Short Game to give both a global view and to show how sports can be a Zen-like calling at any age.
UPDATE 3/15 – Playmaker Online:
Greenbaum not only picked great kids to feature, but the documentary is paced and shot incredibly well. There’s no fat to trim. And the game is treated on such a grandiose schedule that you’d think that this documentary was about pros playing in The Masters. There are sweeping helicopter shots when the kids practice, high frame shots when the kids are hitting out of the bunker, and the action of the tournament is narrated by a guy who sounds just like Dick Enberg.
(Here are some highlights from my additional music in the score):