Knuckleball (2011) – By Josh Samford

This is the second short subject film that I have covered from director Jordan Kerfeld, and it is the second one that I have thoroughly enjoyed. His previous short, Fingers (reviewed here on Rogue Cinema), was a quirky and yet sentimental look at a man reliving several memories. Kerfeld returns to those sentimental roots, but takes away some of the hyper-stylized content of his previous short and instead works entirely within a real world atmosphere. Here his focus is predominately on the father-son relationship but I also see the director working on things like exposition, character development and working with his actors. All three of these points show him finding tremendous amounts of success, and I must confess I enjoyed this short even more than his previous work.

Considering that this is only a seven minute short, there really isn’t a lot of driving narrative so it’s difficult to tackle a plot synopsis without giving away the entire short. However, the basics are that the movie follows a young boy named Milo who is a baseball-obsessed young kid in the midst of moving. The father and son team have recently fallen on hard times financially, and Milo hopes that he can gather up the money needed by being signed to a major league baseball team.

I often find myself talking about the heart and soul to be found in a piece of cinema, but so often the concept is a bit hard to pin down. Generally, when I use phrases like this, I’m trying to relate the love and passion that the filmmakers put into the movie when it seems obvious. Knuckleball shows director Jordan Kerfeld pinning his heart and soul on video, and after you’re finished watching this very short film you can’t help but feel a bit touched by the entire experience. There’s no three act structure or requisite melodrama, but instead we see characters going through the motions of life and we see what it is for a father to sit back and learn right alongside his son who is doing the same.

You know, this is the sort of thing I wish more film students actually attempted. This isn’t about presenting a fresh take on neo-realism or discussing the postmodernist influence on cinema since the 1960’s. This is about characters, its about people and it is about relationships. A quick somewhat sentimental glance into the relationship between a father and son, it’s so sweet you may even tear up. A moving short that features tremendous performances from the two main cast members (Timothy McKinney and the young Alexander Wruck), Knuckleball is a breath of fresh air for being such a sweet and tender look at very human characters. You can read more about the project at its official website: http://kballfilm.com