Directed by Christopher Andre Marks
I’ve probably harped on the topic of the short format more times than I can remember, but typically the best short films leave you wanting more while still managing to proverbially “fill you up”. Sometimes, however, there are short films which simply leave you wanting more. The latest ESPN 30 for 30 short, Tiger Hood, is the latter. An extremely short seven minutes, the shortest in the series and only the fourth that comes in at less than ten minutes, Tiger Hood tells us the story of Patrick Q.F. Barr, or “Tiger Hood” as he is known in New York. Barr is a photographer who spends his days selling his photographs on the street and killing time hitting milk cartons around like they’re golf balls.
Sports are often great opportunities to find time in our hectic lives to express ourselves in a moment of joy or relaxation. Golf in particular, despite its frustrating qualities is a relaxing game meant to be calmly enjoyed. Barr is seen to express frustration with how his life has turned out, which fails to measure up to his expectations, but he is also seen with a joyous, not acceptance, but recognition of his current state in life. What Christopher Andre Marks film lacks is much context. Delivering a very swift, minimalist approach to Barr’s story gives the character and his pastime little time to build a foundation or sympathetic model for the viewer to becomes fully invested in the story. There is a great story to be told here, I am sure, but seven minutes hardly does it justice.
With more detail added around this shell of a film, more context and more depth into how Barr came to this point in his life, how he developed the game he plays on the streets of New York, what is his approach to the game of golf; these are all things which could illuminate the story much more than the finished product we see on screen. I couldn’t help but think of Ramin Bahrani’s New York neo neo realist films (Man Push Cart and Chop Shop), and how the themes and style of those films could have informed this documentary and infused it with the certain drab flash of life it badly needs. Tiger Hood is a missed opportunity at a potentially great story. It didn’t need to be feature length, but it needed to be longer than just seven minutes of barely scratching the surface.