Chanticleer Films’ ever-fascinating Discovery Program, which gives industry professionals a first-time opportunity to direct a short film, brings “Hogg’s Heaven,” written and directed by Michael Taav. Taav creates a quite odd but engaging and humorous little film.
Struggling poet William Hogg (Keith Gordon) wins his first small poetry prize , something called the Gardenia Award. After he reads his winning entry in public, a piece that looks harshly at his parents, an audience member accuses him of being too judgmental.
Hogg invites his parents over for dinner, not only to celebrate but also to re-evaluate them–perhaps he was too critical.
His parents (Michael Fairman and Shirley Knight) immediately find the award laughable, and they lance into him with many criticisms, all in the name of love.
With wine drinking and the arrival of his uninvited sisters (Tracy Griffith and Jessie Nelson), Hogg’s psychological abuse rises to new heights. The dysfunctionality becomes a tangled warped ode to the American family.
Keith Gordon’s Hogg appears to be a variation of the Miles character on “Murphy Brown,” but with a twist. Hoggs’ self-confidence is as fragile as a first frost. Gordon shows this could be any person brought up under the constant thumb of criticism.
Shirley Knight and Michael Fairman excel as the brusque parents, the kind of people who might love setting frogs afire. Tracy Griffith adds to the dementia with suggestions of incest.
The photography by Chris Squires and music by Richard Gibbs also show confident talents.