4.02.2006

Review of Jason Lockyer's Look at Me Now

Look At Me Now
USA/ 1 m / Jason Lockyer
Rating: 7.5/10
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Jason Lockyer makes minute-long pieces mostly about pigeons. But these are remarkable little films: his feathered friends (or rivals?) are just a common theme in these expressive pieces that vary from comical to introspective. The films use cut-out and drawn animation, which are created with technical proficiency and an artistic eye, in addition to live-action footage. Look At Me Now features a meticulous attention to detail in its animation: the pulsating glow of the TV set (which plays another Bender Film, Now Here), a pan around the messy living room, and birds and roaches which eventually interrupt the TV watching. The soundtracks are as quirky as the animations and scenes, and set the moods effectively. Lockyer's films do frequently fall into silliness or abstraction, but still hit at a much deeper level than typical internet shorts.

All the Bender Films are utterly lacking in pretension, and the taglines that accompany each of the films on the site poke fun at typical over-serious filmmakers. They are as amusing as the shorts: Look At Me Now, for instance, is "a story of a chubby man with so much love to give, but so much hurt inside." It's definitely worth taking a few minutes to view this and the other shorts on the Bender Films site, which is updated monthly with new pieces.

-- Shortening review by dmwf

Review of Luis Buñuel's Un Chien Andalou

Un Chien Andalou
France / 18 m / Luis Buñuel
Rating: 9.5/10
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This is the original, the mother of them all. Made in 1929, the opening scene featuring the slicing of a woman's eye with a razor has sliced through the perceptions of the viewing public and forced us to alter our views of cinema ever since then. This masterpiece has lost little of its impact over the last 75+ years, as audiences still struggle to made order out of the nightmarish chaos presented by Buñuel and collaborator Salvador Dalí. Surrealist master Dalí would participate in only a handful of other films in his career, while Buñuel would go on to direct such great films as Belle de Jour and The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, though none as purely surrealist as this.

Although the downloadable file is very large (> 150 MB), this print on the UBUWEB site is good quality (but remember that this was made in the '20s!). The music was chosen by Bunuel himself in 1960, but this film was originally constructed as silent. It may be advisable to watch the film in that manner, so as to better absorb such cinematic elements as the form cuts, the diagonal line motifs, and all of the bizarre surrealistic images from severed hands and breast groping to ants coming out of stigmata-like wounds. Project on your own meanings, interpret it or not, if you watch this film that so influenced everyone from Godard to Lynch, it will not soon be forgotten.

Shortening review by dmwf

Review of Kyle Kleefeld's Blooming Dahlia

Blooming Dahlia
USA / 8m / Kyle Kleefeld
Rating: 1.5/10
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Soft-core porn star turned IFILM auteur Kyle Kleefeld's goth flesh pic Blooming Dahlia is perfect proof of why you should never choose your internet film viewing based on any kind of "Most Popular" ranking. Blooming Dahlia has been viewed over 600,000 times, solely due to its featuring burlesque beauty (and Marilyn Manson wife) Dita von Teese in the buff. The acting in this film is worse than any porn, the most advanced cinematographic technique is that it's in black and white, and the film somehow manages to drag despite only 8 minutes length and Miss von Teese's silicone-filled mamaries. The only attempts at anything creepy are quickly foiled by "Fritz E... Enoch"'s laughable over-emoting. The kicker comes at the end when the photograph starts, like, bleeding... Wooah, how'd they think of that one?

So in a market where AtomFilms's viewer's are 80% male, and the even-worse IFILM has one of its 12 channels completely dedicated to "Girls," the curse of the "Most Popular" cannot be ignored. The "Highest Rated" are typically not much better: this film actually averaged 4 out of 5 stars on the site. Just something to keep in mind while surfing these and other sites: meanwhile Blooming Dahlia will remain most viewed until the next naked babe comes along.

-- Shortening review by dmwf

3.26.2006

Review of Peter Herron's Blind Before Yesterday

Blind Before Yesterday
USA / 30s / Peter Herron
Rating: 7/10
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This film was made for Ithaca College's CellFlix Festival, a contest for shorts under 30 seconds shot entirely with cell phone cameras. While high school student Peter Herron's film didn't take away the grand prize, his Blind Before Yesterday is the best of the lot. Poetic shots including a seaside sunset, new perspectives on mass transit, and a beautiful slo-mo shot taken from the camera tumbling through the air, all sleekly edited together, makes for quite an aesthetically pleasing half-minute. Herron shows his age a bit with the "art is everywhere" ending (unneccesary because the images speak this louder than any words). But the real question is did he really leave his cell on the train tracks to get that one shot?

-- Shortening review by dmwf

Review of Patryk Rebisz's Between You and Me

Between You and Me
USA / 5 m / Patryk Rebisz
Rating: 8/10
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Patryk Rebisz's remarkable short Between You and Me should be an inspiration to low-budget filmmakers everywhere: it is entirely shot with a still digital camera. The piece follows a young photographer and her camera around New York. However unlike the still photo-romans such as Chris Marker's La Jetée, which rarely suggest motion, the camera here is set to rapid-fire, causing a unique jerky effect. The cinematography makes excellent use of this, with a different types of jerkiness used to convey the moods of the characters. The additional use of moving camera gives a Matrix-like three-dimensionality to many shots as well. Although the story stretches believability in parts, the director should be commended for his integration of his techniques into the storyline of the work, creating a beautiful stand-alone piece.

-- Shortening review by dmwf

Review of Jason Reitman's Consent

Consent
USA / 6m / Jason Reitman
Rating: 3/10
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Just in case one needed an additional reminder of the sad state of the internet short film industry, AtomFilms has put Jason Reitman's short Consent first on its "Top 10 2005 Films" list. The film underachieves even within Atom's forte, the mildly titillating PG-13 sex comedy, as most of the jokes fizzle and the plot remains predictable throughout. The film depicts a young couple on their first date who exchange legal documents prior to their makeout session, and this inherently misogynistic premise is developed with gags based on tired gender stereotypes. Only the most sexually frustrated internet surfing teens will find anything of interest here. See the "Love Contract" sketch in the infamous Rick James episode of Chappelle's Show for the laugh-out-loud treatment of the same topic; this film instead packs the humourous wallop of an end-of-episode SNL sketch with some pop star or pro athlete stumbling over their lines. The only saving aspects are the deadpan performances of Jeff Witzke and Katy Ostrander, who as the lawyers inject some life into the otherwise feeble legal repartee.

The introduction to this film on the AtomFilms site encourages viewers to make sure to go see Reitman's new feature, out in theaters now. But there's no way that Atom's editors could have been influenced by some payola in their selection of the "Best of 2005"... And does that name sound familiar? Director Jason Reitman is the son of Hollywood director Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, Meatballs). While Jason does get cool points for his portrayal of the teenage boy caught smooching by Ahnold in Kindergarten Cop, this doesn't exactly bolster my hopes of new indie filmmakers with last names other than Scorsese or Coppola making it big. But keep on sending in your submissions to Atom! Internet shorts are helping to allow anyone to make it big in film, right?

-- Shortening review by dmwf

Welcome

Welcome to our new short film review blog, Shortening! We hope this can be a useful source of information for reviews and critiques of internet short films. All the films we review are available online for free viewing (and the links to the films are given at the top of each review).

You can reach us by email at shorteningreviews@yahoo.com, and the address here is shorteningreviews.blogspot.com. Send us links to your favorite (or your own) short films, and we will review the most interesting ones.