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Gasman 1997
Description: It's the Christmas season. With her mom's help, Lynne, a woman of perhaps eight, dresses up; her younger brother Steven plays with a toy car. The kids leave with their dad, who's affectionate with them. They walk down a railroad track where an unkempt girl waits with two children, about the same age as Lynne and Steven. The kids go with them. They're all headed to a vacation party at a pub. Lynne notices that the woman acts all too familiar with her dad. What's going on?
Released: 01 Oct 1998 Director: Lynne Ramsay Writers: Lynne Ramsay, Harold Manning (french adaptation) Actors: Lynne Ramsay Jr., Martin Anderson, James Ramsay, Denise Flannagan Genres: Short, Drama
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Gasman Reviews:

Gasman is a proper short movie - tiny plot, none of it said explicitly, but a larger storyline going on around the camera. Like most of Lynne Ramsey's items (Ratcatcher being the greatest and most enjoyable example, because it isn't a short)it feels like and probably is 1970s/80s East-end Glasgow, the struggling classes and a fairly grim outlook, but you see the tiny sparks of interest in true lives, and being a tiny storyline said very much from a child's mission of view, it's much more hopeful, interesting and satisfied than it should have been. The characters, so few, and so tiny seen in the short still have immense believability and completeness. Most folks will search this dull, but if you're the type of person who knows how to receive keep of a copy, you're probably the kind of person who'd play it. Arty, but not impenetrable, easy but thought-provoking.


It's grim up north the old telling goes; Gasman by Lynne Ramsey won't change that stereotype but it does illustrate the talent of this director. This short movie shares similarities with the both work of Mike Leigh and social realist 'kitchen sink' movies of the sixties, in showing a slice of life storyline from the lower classes. Read; bleak setting and diegetic sound.Set in an undisclosed Scottish town at Christmas, the storyline concerns a day in the life of lower class father (James Ramsey), daughter Lynne (Lynne Ramsey Jr) and son Steven (Martin Anderson) as they walk the tracks. En route, they mysteriously pick up more kids from a girl (Jackie Quinn), Lisa (Lisa Taylor) and Robert (Robert McEwan). Gasman is a strong piece, due in no tiny part to the performance by Lynne Ramsey Jr. It is a strong portrait of a working class young woman and the confusion she faces. When pretending to be Dorothy from the Sorcerer of Oz, you really trust that 'There's no zone like home.' The helping cast are also suitably bedraggled for their characters to be believable. There are some fine visual flourishes in this short piece; the close shots of folks getting ready for their day out give the movie a very intimate feel, as if you are really looking into their family life. There is appropriate test of light and dark contrast, in particular as they are in wide shot walking up the tracks. Also, the working club Christmas party is visual delight, with kid POV shots, slow motion and chopped up editing. At times the Scottish dialect is quite difficult to follow with the sound quality being quite raw. My main trouble with the movie would be that Gasman doesn't have anything original to say. Gasman is suitably bleak according to category convention but its essential message being that it's challenging growing up in a lower class environment has been a mainstay of social realist cinema since before Kes. Still grim it would seem.


I've never been a fanatic of short movies for their 'art-school' and 'experimental' qualities. Simply being a product of those two is not enough. They are almost everytime too personal, too opaque, and too much obviously serving as 'stepping-stones'.I was therefore satisfied to see Lynne Ramsay's short movies as the chrysalis for her magnificent detail films. I was also impressed to learn that she won the Cannes short-film prize, *twice*. And actually I can see what others saw in her, for _Gasman_ is the greatest short movie I have ever seen.Available on the Criterion DVD with _Small Deaths_ and the less nice _Kill the Day_, _Gasman_ is a fully-fledged, visionary movie that translates directly into the skill and grace of _Ratcatcher_._Gasman_ moves directly from the first piece of _Short Deaths_, with the distant father and Lynne Ramsay Jr. again taking centre screen. But _Gasman_ comes to a type a fruition--a full storyline with many of the same themes and techniques of _Ratcatcher_: closely observed yet elliptical human behaviour, housing projects, slum-beauty, children's natures, a jumbled impressionistic globe caught in partial body closeups and shots from behind people.The movie 'tells' nothing, but the storyline is dead clear and builds slowly to an emotional pitch that is almost unbearable.This is a movie of jaw-dropping beauty. Sounds trite, but that's how I feel. When the Da and two children walk on the tracks, the camera is set to a partially closed iris which intensifies the accessible light and colour in an otherworldly sheen--one that is gone when they return on the same tracks at night, in disappointment. Beauty in service of storyline is the key.This *is* the greatest short movie I have ever seen.



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