Bad News

By Markus Meedt | Comedy
A politician goes on a popular TV show. Then a scandal unfolds.

One of the U.K.'s most divisive politicians, Alan Rotger, is set to appear on a popular morning show, and the crew is nervous. But as the five-minute countdown ticks down, a fresh scandal begins to unfold.

As the politician's handlers scramble to get ahead of the potential peccadillo. But as efforts proceed, these efforts have their after-effects.

Directed by Markus Meedt from a script written by Alexander Gibbons and Gabriel Henrique Gonzalez, this razor-sharp dramedy short examines the perfect toxic storm created by the confluence of mass media and politics, feeding the insatiable need for headlines in exchange for furthering their agenda.

The narrative has many threads weaving in and out: a politician and his wife at an embarrassing crisis point, tense co-hosts, stressed-out television producers. The crackling, rapid-pace dialogue lays most of the storytelling groundwork, and the excellent script crams in background information, character motive and point-of-view with brisk, economical efficiency.

The quicksilver tempo and ironic wit would be perfect for a screwball comedy, but it's captured in a mobile, roving camera, and the film unfurls in one engaging, adept one-take shot. Appealing to fans of absurdist, darkly funny political comedies like "In the Loop" and "Veep," this approach captures the stealthily (and then not so stealthily) circus-like hive as each event unfolds, like anxiety roving like a contagion from one party to another.

From weaving a dense, intelligent narrative in a compressed timeframe to its fast, fluid camerawork, the short takes a lot of risks, and there's a lot of information for an audience to take in and incorporate, just as a new development bubbles up, shifting the game. But actor Edward Hogg ably holds up the tent as the politician at the center of the maelstrom, playing both the self-absorption of a wannabe power player scrambling to keep his aspirations alive and a man flailing in his personal life. When the two dovetail in a spectacularly craven collision, we witness not just one politician's Hail Mary, but the birth of a media tempest guaranteed to draw headlines even after lives are ruined.

This maelstrom is the true subject of "Bad News," even as it foregrounds the very real human problems that will feed weeks of clickbait headlines to come. Failed marriages, personal foibles, grudges small and big: they're all fodder for an endless news cycle that must renew itself with fresh drama and outrage. The conclusion pulls together news and politics in a way that feeds both, leaving behind the wreckage of personal lives and emotions in its wake.

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