Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sundance shorts, part two: The last word for 2007

Below are the animated films at Last week's festival.

Bobby Bird: The Devil in Denim
Directed by Carson Mell
TRT 7:00/DVD/Color

Using extremely limited animation and the “Clutch Cargo Mouth Technique”, Bobby Bird explains how he got his many tattoos. Somewhat interesting, it begins to drag after about three minutes, which is extremely quick, all told.

Destiny Manifesto
Directed by Martha Colburn
TRT 9:00/DVD/Color

What claims to be an exploration between the visual and psychological parallels between the American western frontier and the conflict in the Middle East, is in fact a clueless attack on the United States and everything it stands for. Following what stands in for a plot, America and Americans are evil and all they bring are suffering and death. It’s actually rather gross, in a creative sort of way, with paintings on cut out paintings of the old west and Iraq.

The sort of political mush which is so popular at the moment.

Duct Tape and Cover
Directed by Gene Park
TRT 4:00/DVD/Color

What’s supposed to be a satirical response to the Department of Homeland Security's recent advice for Americans to ready themselves for possible chemical and biological warfare, it is in fact far too late for the humor to work. It’s a willful misunderstanding of the original advisory, and while the animation is excellent, this is about as unfunny as you can get. The use of the notorious “Duck and Cover” propaganda film made by the government back in 1951 makes false comparisons.

More political mush, something I’m afraid we’ll see a lot more of.

Golden Age
Directed by Aaron Augenblick
TRT 10:00/DVD/Color

A compellation of episodes from the Comedy Central Web series by the creator of “Wondershowzen.” Some of the “skits” are actually rather good, and others are merely pointless. That’s what happens when you have a brilliant pitch and subsequently run out of ideas. Still it’s mostly funny.

How She Slept At Night
Directed by Lilli Carre
TRT 4:00/DVD/Color

This is about a man’s recollections of his wife, whom he seems to have begun to forget. Like the narrator’s faulty memory, the film is a bit of nothing with an air of sadness to it. The stylization is an interesting touch, and reminds one of the work of Lynda Barry.

One Rat Short
Directed by Alex Weil
TRT 10:00/HD Cam/Color

A subway rat is led by the mesmerizing ballet of a discarded bag of crunchy cheese product into an adventure of love and loss on a dark Manhattan night, in which he fights an evil robot and almost finds happiness. This was far more effecting than I imagined. The computer animation approaches the Pixar/Dreamworks level. This may actually be short listed for next year’s Oscars.

Phantom Canyon
Directed by Stacey Steers
TRT 10:00/HDCam/Color

A curious woman encounters enormous insects and Batman (the other one) in a pivotal journey through the mind of someone very much like Terry Gilliam. The use of antique engravings is very much like the interstitals from the old Monty Python series. The film is actually interesting in spots, although the sound was kind of wonky.

The Light Surgeons Present: In Passing
Directed by Christopher Thomas Allen & Robert Rainbow
TRT 6:00/DVD/Color

Jo Welborn, who’s around 90% blind explains her life and how she experiences things, in an exploration of the psycho-geography of Manchester, England, using computer graphics to simulate blindness and allow the seeing to share in this experience.

It’s actually extremely effective, and despite the banality, rather moving. It’s sad that it didn’t win any awards.

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