The Survivor's Guide
of a Newspaper Carrier
Review by Mark Schwab
February 13th, 2019
A quick and cursory glance of writer/director/actor Klifford Barkus' filmography reveals an independent filmmaker who is beginning to dip his toe into some different genre waters. His previous effort, LAST RESORT, won some awards on the fest circuit by bravely turning the camera on himself and delving into some pretty personal and gritty territory. This makes his newest short film, THE SURVIVOR'S GUIDE OF A NEWSPAPER CARRIER, a nice surprise as Barkus shows some comedic moves in contrast to his tougher dark drama.
Klifford Barkus himself stars as a harried paperdude desperate to get caught up on his route (he gets a late start). Wisely keeping things simple in the 8-minute runtime, Barkus keeps his focus on making this a satirical "how-to" film told completely through his eyes as he is forced to deal with his weird customers' quirks and kranks.
True, there aren't huge laughs here and the sound mix is a little dodgy but most of this works surprisingly well. The short moves at a nice clip and I really liked the creative visual ways used to make the most of a limited budget. But I think it is Klifford Barkus' lead performance that carries it over the line ultimately. It's like a pitcher up to bat, scoring the go-ahead run himself to win the game. Barkus has a beaming screen persona where comic timing fits him like a glove - you can't help but root for the guy.
As THE SURVIVOR'S GUIDE OF A NEWSPAPER CARRIER begins its festival run, give it a look. Barkus' film does a nice job of channeling Boots Riley's absurdities without copying them and you'll have a pleasant grin on your face the whole time.