Castles In The Air Image

Castles In The Air

By Michael Talbot-Haynes | June 7, 2024

Someone has the fever for more cabin in the short cinematic paean to isolation Castles In The Air, written, directed, edited, and starring Patrick Kevin Cheesebrough. It opens with a man (Cheesebrough) sitting in a bed, deep in a book, until he slams it shut. While he proceeds to keep himself amused with activities, a voiceover of the man speaks about how it is relatively easy not to interact with anyone.

He speaks about how you still keep everyone you know internalized, with your memories keeping them around you while you are alone. You can imagine whole conversations, sometimes ones that go on for hours. To illustrate, the man becomes both a psychiatrist and a patient at the same time. The man interviews himself about the meaning of his dream where he a lady with the biggest wedgie he has every seen. Soon, visuals start accompanying the concepts, and the short becomes a visual tone poem while the voiceover reflects on solitude further.


“…speaks about how it is relatively easy not to interact with anyone.”

This short really hit home with me. Castles In The Air is able to communicate an elaborate understanding of seclusion with style in its 22-minute running time. At first, you wonder whether the narrator is stuck in some Antarctic-level unpopulated area, but it soon becomes apparent that he is alone by choice. Many people follow this way of living, usually due to a deep devotion to their field of expertise. While the behavior here may seem strange to some, many artists and scientists will recognize their own patterns. Sometimes, other people just get in the way. This was my attitude in the early 90s, back when I was a leather hermit drinking myself to death in New York and later Toledo. Yes, the alcohol provided a wet cocoon for my misanthropy, but at the core I fought I was busy trying to make something of myself. Cheesebrough not only shows the pain, he also shows the elevation of a life unbound by behavior obligation when in society. 

Film is a language and language can be used to make poetry. Cheesebrough, as a filmmaker, speaks the language of film fluently. His instincts on timing and scene composition are astoundingly sharp. He has a diabolical talent for continuously drawing the viewer’s focus deeper, as I kept being pulled in by his next flourish. The score by Raspalt compliments the proceedings with an ethereal atmosphere.

There are times when there is an over-reliance on heavily antiquated references to high culture. I know this is part of the intellectual plane the main character chooses to dwell on, as we have the bookshelves to prove it. However, these chains of sophistication sometimes keep Cheesebrough’s eagle from fully taking off. When you have the cinematic intuition of a Chaplin, you don’t need to drag in the musty stench of the ages to establish your importance. Castles In The Air is a beautiful beam of light blasting long out from a lonely place.

Castles In The Air (2024)

Directed and Written: Patrick Kevin Cheesebrough

Starring: Patrick Kevin Cheesebrough, etc.

Movie score: 7.5/10

Castles In The Air Image

"…instincts on timing and scene composition are astoundingly sharp..."

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