That Terrible Jazz (2014)

This unique and stylistic short film throws you straight into the past; most defined by the fact that it has been shot in black and white. Watching the whole 16 minutes in black and white changes the effect of the film to make it intriguing and delving the audience into a past and the mystery of the missing saxophone player. The black and white effect to the film is also excellently harmonised with the costume and props in order to create this past so different to modern day. From the suits, to everyone smoking in every scene, to the telephones, down to all details.

Sam Sellers (Ephraim Davis) is a private investigator. He is hired by bar owner, Nicky (Timothy J. Cox), in order to discover what happened to Wynn DuMont (Gyasi Howard). Meanwhile, the rest of the Jazz band have no idea what happened to him. Sam goes on his investigation trying to solve what happened, while the audience secretly know more about the characters than he does, yet we’re not entirely sure what we know. On his route, we meet Jimmy Calder (David A. Rodriguez) and Bethany (Ellay Watson); both of them we feel are hiding something from Sam. The audience is caught into the mystery, unknown to what has happened to Wynn. So the movie stays intriguing until the very end. And still then, there are some things we are unsure of.


The audience is also kept away from personal information of all the characters; we don’t actually find out much about any of them, although it’s not needed. We just know what we need to know and that keeps the film close to the plot and doesn’t stray. However, saying this, there are some moments where it seems the camera is suggesting things the audience might need to know about the main protagonist, Sam. There is a focus on particular things drawing the audience’s attention to it, for example the notebook or the empty glass.

Among all this, there is tense music which is instrumental and works well with not only the style of the film but the plot. Also the title cleverly comes from the main protagonist’s own comment at the very end of the film.


This director is very clever in creating an intriguing short film, where the audience is captivated into what happened to Wynn. Even if they’re previously suggested to what has already happened, we cannot be sure of anything until the end. So I would recommend delving into a mysterious past and discovering what happened to the poor saxophone player.

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